Course Structure

Courses, Modules, Lessons, and Topics

Some courses are fairly straightforward, while others require a more structured hierarchy so instructors and students don’t get lost in the chaos. For example, the 100 Ton Master’s License course contains a lot of information that has to be organized for easy study. We do this by segmenting the information into smaller chunks.

A course is the actual package you are getting ready to open. It lists all minimum requirements if there are any (such as minimum days at sea), states required materials (such as practice charts, or other downloadable reference content), and states the desired outcomes both in skills learned and in certificates gained.

A module is a place holder. Think of it as a container. It contains a number of related lessons. For example, the module for Navigation General, in the 100 Ton’s Master’s License course, has a module titled Navigation General. This includes a lesson on Aids to Navigation as well as a lesson on Meteorology. Both relate to navigation but have their own subsets of coursework.

A lesson consists of a number of related topics. The lesson for Meteorology would contain topics on tides, another topic on weather fronts, and yet another topic on ocean currents. It is similar to a module in that it acts as a container. It will list the various skills you will be learning related to that lesson and its information will be a more focused overview. Lessons contain topics and quizzes.

Topics are stand alone concepts. Like the page you are reading now. This is where the information actually gets delivered. Topics contain media and quizzes.

Once all of the lessons in all of the modules are completed, you will be able to take the final quiz for the course.

Quizzes & Exams

A quiz is used for figuring out if any of this course material makes sense to you. If you pass a quiz we proceed with the assumption you have comprehension by demonstrating mastery.

Many topics end with a short quiz associated directly with that topic. Just a few questions to make sure you have the highlights of the information presented there. Some of these will be multiple choice, some will be true/false, and some may have you match an image to a concept. We like to switch it up a bit to keep things interesting.

There is only one exam, and not all courses require one. Some courses enable you to test with us instead of with the US Coast Guard. This gets you out of having to travel to one of their testing facilities and enables us to proctor your exam instead.

Remember: quizzes track your progression through the course and are made of questions and problems. Exams are in-person proctored affairs and happen off-line, away from the learning system.


Salty Says:

If you miss an answer, don’t worry. Many questions are designed to be misleading. We will go over them together. Who knows? There may be some tips and tricks this old dog can teach you!


There are two styles of progressing through a course. FFree progression allows you to take any topic in any lesson and in any module that you wish, in any order. This is because larger courses, such as the 100 Ton Master’s License course, contain four or more modules and a number of different lessons and topics. If you feel like studying something more mathematically intensive one day or wish to focus on general seamanship the next day, you are free to do so. Varying your study focus can help keep your mind fresh.

Linear progression requires you to take each topic, lesson, and module in the order it is presented. This is useful for shorter courses and where information has more sequential value. Some knots, for example, are based upon the structure of simpler knots. It simply wouldn’t make sense to teach this to you out of order.