Prior to the Covid pandemic, ground course training for pilots was lethargically gaining momentum online, with traditional classroom methods arguably still the then preferred method of delivery. As with many areas of life, the Covid pandemic has altered significantly this preference to swing toward online delivery, almost exclusively. While the world negotiates the new normal, aviation negotiates this delivery method. Good news for tech minded people, but for some, this change has demanded quick adaption to these methods, not without some struggle.
So is it all good? Should the industry embrace this brave new world of online teaching and throw away the whiteboards, markers, desks and chairs? Well with every change there is both positives and negatives. Obviously from a cost perspective, online teaching is much more effficient, both in time and resources. Whereas once a group of people might have to be convened from far flung places, now the entire class (including the instructor) could be lying on a beach, or at home, or up on a mountain top (as long as they have internet connection) while they participate in a particular course. This has obvious benefits to the organisation and to the individual. So what’s the downside? As great as online courses and meetings are? Sometimes they just cannot replicate the indivdual attention that face to face in a classroom may bring.
There’s a risk students will be easily distracted and not pay the full attention needed to a particular topic. For subject material that is informative by nature, but not safety critical, this is not such a problem, but for safety critical subject matter, how can an instructor truly see if his pupils are absorbing what is being taught? Of course there is always end of course tests and exams, but these tend to be a highlight cherry pick of the most salient points. There is an opportunity for online learning to become a box ticking exercise, whereby courses are undertaken and completed purely to meet regulartory requirement. This defeats the purpose of having the course in the first place. Classroom learning was by no means infallable, but it did bring the more personal touch. The teacher could gauge much more accurately how the students were managing the course and adjust their teaching methods or content to suit.
In this post Covid era, the aviation industry is having to adapt quickly to survive. Moving to full online learning is not necessarily one of the best or safest developments to emerge out of this ‘new normal.’