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On Foot - Navigation or Map Reading?

Posted By Administration, 20 June 2018

On Foot - Navigation or Map Reading?


Author: Nigel Williams


Several articles in the last edition of the magazine raise issues of what, when, how and who should teach basic map and compass navigation skills.

So how are we taught navigation, is there a universal methodology and are those teaching it trained to do so?

The Geography teacher has to get pupils through an exam which usually involves a 1:50 000 scale map, plotting skills, symbols and grid references among other things - in other words, a static map reading process. Those involved with outdoor activities require students to navigate on the move, a completely different set of skills and level of confidence because the outcome of an error will have a direct consequence.

Who gets the pupils first may have an impact on their learning to navigate, which is a good reason to start in primary school. Both British Orienteering and the National Navigation Award Scheme (NNAS) have materials and training to support that. However, there is no formal course within the UK education system where a teacher can learn to teach navigation. As a result, there is no universal UK system to benchmark the process of either teaching or pupil outcomes.

Most user organisations such as schools, youth organisations and outdoor training organisations came into being before the 1970/1980s when British Orienteering developed a simple and successful teaching process. However, orienteering was viewed sceptically by others as not being relevant to their established methods and aims. The wearing of something akin to pyjamas, running and perceived club membership probably enhanced that view.

Understanding contours

Navigation is taught randomly across many organisations in the UK, largely based on an 80-year-old military methodology. The original focus being to teach accurate plotting skills to pin point trenches and gun positions, accuracy of angles and magnetic variation were vital to avert shelling your own side. Prismatic compasses and mils instead of degrees gave a much greater level of accuracy than our current base plate compasses. The methodology was never designed for outdoor recreation and on the move navigation.

Much of the old teaching requires numeracy skills and is designed to enable the communication of information, little of which is relevant to navigation for recreation. When did you last use a grid reference during a walk in the countryside or need to communicate a bearing? We tend to point at the map and then the direction we want to go in. A simple compass needle to set the map when following linear features is generally sufficient.

Numeracy as a starting point for learning the subject can be a barrier for many learners and later in life may impact people’s confidence to get active outdoors. It may also be a reason why people opt for using a GPS/phone, because it appears to get around the perceived complexities that the teaching methodology has thrown at them in the past. We can’t dismiss grid references but as a starting point it is not going to enthuse.

Magnetic variation currently in the UK is less than the stated accuracy of a standard baseplate compass which according to the manufacturers can be up to 2.5 degrees out. It is irrelevant for beginners and simply adds complexity and confusion. Beginners usually plan to follow tracks and paths where dial turning bearings are not required.

In recent years the orienteering map and its availability has become a huge asset in teaching navigation skills and British Orienteering now have around 560 maps from across the UK on their website which can be down loaded, some free, some for a small payment. Availability of these maps are a game changer for every age group and level of learning. The amount of navigation skills learning and practice that can be achieved in a short space of time is far greater than on any other mapping.

Map setting

Instead of learning 1:50 000 symbols by rote in the class room, imagine giving children an orienteering map of the school /local park grounds without the key on it. Then invite them to go and discover what the symbols are - active learning and building map confidence within their known environment.

Orienteering maps don’t have grid numbers on and competitors use compasses without rotating dials or numbers on and they are arguably the best on foot navigators in the world. The teaching process is not numeracy based, it keeps things simple, fun and as practical as possible with a teaching methodology and progressions that are consistent and can be benchmarked nationally.

NNAS uses a similar approach of developing skills with orienteering map scales and exercises. Ultimately the aim is to develop the skills needed to become confident and competent with standard recreation scale maps 1:25 000, 1: 40 000 and 1:50 000 as well as combining a GPS or altimeter if required.

The key things both these organisations embrace is a simple set of progressions written on one side of A4 and tutors are required to be trained to teach the subject, a 1-day course usually meets most tutor needs. This is absent in virtually all the other major organisations involved with navigation or the teaching of it. The NNAS awards are also being accredited on the Scottish Credits and Qualifications Framework endorsing tutor competence and a clear structure to teaching the subject.

If a simple UK navigation teaching methodology were to be established and tutors trained to deliver a similar approach, the benefits could be wide ranging from supporting the health and obesity agenda and reducing Mountain Rescue call outs to benchmarking between the many outdoor qualifications and youth skills awards.

Learning skills with an orienteering scale map provides many learning and feedback opportunities without having to walk long distances. The environment is often less intimidating than being in the hills and therefore also supports the learning process.

Tags:  education  land  Navigation  on foot  orienteering 

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Note of meeting of the IMO Maritime Safety Committee MSC99 – 16 to 25 May 2018

Posted By Administration, 05 June 2018

Note of meeting of the IMO Maritime Safety Committee MSC99 – 16 to 25 May 2018

Author: Kim Fisher

This was an 8 day meeting of the Maritime Safety Committee under the chairmanship of Mr Bradley Groves (Australia). The Maritime Safety Committee meets three times in a two year cycle nominally for 5 days but is permitted a longer meeting when the period between meetings exceeds 6 months.

A substantive issue at the meeting concerned a regulatory scoping exercise for the use of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS). This was new work which was progressed in a Working Group. A framework was developed including the aim and objective, the preliminary definition of MASS and degrees of autonomy, the list of mandatory regulations to be considered and the applicability in terms of type and size of ships. This will be further developed by a correspondence group for the next meeting.

A further Working Group discussed the issue of safety measures for non-SOLAS ships operating in polar waters as an extension to the Polar Code. This proved to be a difficult topic and will be further discussed at the next meeting. Meanwhile the Sub-committee on Ship Design and Construction (SDC) was tasked with developing recommendatory safety measures for fishing vessels over 24 m in length and pleasure yachts over 300 gross tonnage.

Limited changes to Chapter IV (Radiocommunications) of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) to replace references to “Inmarsat” by “recognized mobile satellite service” were adopted to enter into force on 1 January 2020. This facilitates the introduction of other satellite operators to provide Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) services. The Iridium system had been proposed for recognition and after some debate this was agreed. Further work on its implementation will be carried out by the International Maritime Satellite Organization (IMSO). An initial application for the BeiDou messaging service to be recognised as a further service was accepted.

New work items were agreed for the Japanese Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) to be considered as a future component of the World-Wide Radionavigation System (WWRNS) and for a revision of the guidelines for Vessel Traffic Services.

The workload of the Sub-committee on Navigation Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR) was discussed as it has been proving difficult to achieve all the work. This resulted in a proposal to extend the length of the meeting from 5 to 8 days for the next two years.

The next meeting of MSC is scheduled to take place from 3 to 7 December 2018. A meeting of the Joint IMO/ITU Experts Group is planned for 3 to 7 September 2018 and a meeting of the ICAO/IMO Joint working group is planned for 17 to 21 September 2018. The meeting of the IMO/IHO Harmonization Group on Data Modelling (HGDM) is planned for 29 October to 2 November 2018. A meeting of NCSR is planned for 16 to 25 January 2019.

Tags:  IMO  Maritime  Report  Safety 

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