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Course Development – From Inception to Implementation

Monday, December 24, 2018

Course Development – From Inception to Implementation

Without fail, the holiday season sets the mood for me to think back and reflect on things accomplished both on personal and professional levels during the past years.  I find encouragement from these reflections that somehow in a limited amount of time, I was able to complete some goals set in the past year. 

Out of the many professional aspects that I looked back into and reflected upon, one thing that crossed my mind was course development – specifically the development of Inland Spill Response Course for Singapore. I guess I miss my time in conducting fieldwork for assessing and cleaning up land contamination which was what I did prior to joining OSRL. That is why, developing the Inland Spill Response Course for me struck a familiar chord both personally and professionally.

 Well, how does one start developent of a course?

Inception – Planning, Planning and more Planning                   

Lots and lots of planning was involved in the development – from course materials to field deployment.  The course materials were prepared taking into consideration what learning outcomes   would add most value to our future delegates.  Relevancy of topics and modules, delivery mode, learning activities are considered to ensure that they will make an impact and relate to our prospective course participants. Course content is reviewed at multiple levels to guarantee accuracy, relevancy and quality.               

The most interesting part of the development was the conceptualization of the damming exercise included in the course.  It took months of coordination and preparation – from finding suitable location to actual damming operations.    

Finding a suitable site for damming was very challenging.  Singapore is a highly-urbanized country most of the waterways are concretized i.e. limited small “natural” waterways.  Finding a small “natural” waterway is not the only requirement. The accessibility of the waterway for the equipment and personnel logistics is equally important.  Such waterway was identified in one of the parks (Admiralty Park) in Singapore. 1.jpg                  2.jpg

  Location of waterway for damming exercise                          The waterway within Admiralty Park


The next major challenge was securing a permit from relevant regulatory agencies prior to the damming exercise.  We had to liaise and request permission from – not one, not two but three regulatory agencies to be able to execute the damming exercise. Since the waterway is within the park, permission has to be obtained from National Parks Board (NParks) and Public Utilities Board (PUB) for all activities on inland waterways. Last but not least, permission from National Environment Agency (NEA) is required to confirm the controls are in place to ensure that no environmental damage at the site during the actual damming exercise.  

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Preparation of damming materials

 The fun part of the whole process was the actual exercise.  Operations personnel supported in all aspects of the deployment – health and safety, logistics, procedure, among other things.  We enjoyed the deployment despite the heat.

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Deployment of damming materials on the waterway                 The completed dam


Feedback for improvement was gathered, documented and acted upon after the damming exercise.  The lessons learned from the exercise were very valuable as these will also be used as learning points for our future course participants, simplifying the deployment procedures and ensuring health and safety of all during the course delivery.  

Implementation – “The proof of the pudding is in eating”

The real success of the course is in its delivery.  Confidence was high as we were successful in the damming exercise.  True enough, feedback from course participants appreciating our efforts included the following:

·       “Excellent practical experience using booming and skimming.  Well done.  Great team spirit”

·       “Facilitators are experienced. We had a good understanding on hands on deployment. It was a good practical exercise.  Had a good experience on handling during damming operation and understanding how we dealt with it.”

·       “We really appreciated the time and effort you had devoted in organizing the training. The entire course was a good learning experience, we had fun, enjoyed the good food and the opportunity to engage people in the industry.  Do continue to keep up the excellent work.

Reflecting on it deeply, these things doesn’t come easy.  We were able to do this successfully because of the experience and exposure of OSRL personnel in actual spills globally.  Furthermore, it is also our ability to package such experiences and knowledge in a form that is palatable and more importantly adds huge value to our course participants.  


Author Bio(s)

Norman Ramos

Principal Trainer and Consultant

Norman has more than 19 years combined experience in crisis and incident management, oil spill response and preparedness, including training. He has delivered and participated in incident management system (IMS) and crisis management training and exercises, respectively, within Asia-Pacific. He holds Expert Certification in Crisis Management.

Holding a Masters in Environmental Management from the National University of Singapore (NUS), his interests lie in the intersection of oiled wildlife preparedness and response and implementation of IMS in oil spill incidents. Furthermore, he is interested in developing and implementing large-scale exercises on incident and crisis management.