In the past, most pilots obtained ground school training by attending a college or university or sitting through a ground school at the local flight club. The courseware in these various ground schools mostly consisted of printed textbooks, manuals, reference materials, instructor lectures and possibly watching a video or DVD. Learning from these types of courseware materials worked back then however, these training techniques are not meeting the needs of student pilots training today. Students today have grown up watching video games, playing and studying on a computer, and now use mobile devices in the classroom. The new generations of aviation students are looking to use this same technology in their flight training.
It has been proven that the retention of information from reading books or attending a traditional classroom lecture is not the best way of learning. Retaining the information is much lower compared to being actively engaged and participating, practicing activities or collaborating with others. Research by the National Training Laboratories Institute in Bethel, Maine, shows that the retention percentage from information provided from a lecture is only 5 percent, reading books is 10 percent, audio-visual such as a video is 20 percent, but being engaged in an interactive training course, such as online training, retention levels jump to 75-80 percent. The availability of online training is now being used in combination with instructor led training, creating “blended learning.” Blended learning design builds students core knowledge using self-study, eLearning lessons. Then, through instructor-led, higher order learning activities, students apply and articulate their knowledge in practical situations. These activities require the students to analyze, evaluate, and critically think about the correct application of their knowledge in each new situation presented in an activity. The design enhances student achievement by giving the students the opportunity to learn and demonstrate competency in a variety of practical, situational activities in the safety of the classroom, complete with instructor feedback. Jeppesen has created a Flight Training System using online and blended learning applying instructional design that fosters 21st century skill sets such as creativity and innovation, communication and collaboration, research and information fluency as well as critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making.
The number of new pilots has been declining for several years for a number of different reasons. In 2004, there were more than 23,000 new private pilots in the US and in 2013, that number dropped to a little more than 15,000 new private pilots. Many students that are thinking of going into pilot training are deterred because of the misconception that pilot training is too hard, ground training is not interesting or fun or they don’t have the time. Online training helps to minimize or eliminate these perceptions.
Online training courses provide many benefits to both students and instructors. A true interactive course allows the students to be engaged in the training, with the ability to practice through self-testing and exercises, experience multiple modes of media such as animation, video, audio calls, and have access to up to date information and content which may not be available in a textbook. Online training courses also help benefit the instructors and training organizations by providing information such as how long students have been in a course, what lessons they have completed, what tests they have taken and which questions they passed or failed. This provides valuable information to the instructor so they know where to put their focus in the classroom and assess the progression of the student. The ability of online courses to be completed anywhere, with self-paced timing, allows for more time in the classroom for labs, discussions, activities and field tours, which work to enhance learning for the student.
-Robert Brannan, CFI/CFII
Product Manager Jeppesen Aviation Training Solutions