Instructional aids should not be confused with training media. Educators generally describe training media as any physical means that communicates an instructional message to students. For example, the instructor's voice, printed text, video cassettes, interactive computer programs, part-task trainers, flight training devices or flight simulators, and numerous other types of training devices are considered training media. Instructional aids, on the other hand, are devices that assist an instructor in the teaching-learning process. Instructional aids are not self-supporting; they are supplementary training devices. The key factor is that instructional aids support, supplement, or reinforce.
In general, the coverage of instructional aids in the first part of this chapter applies to a classroom setting with one instructor and several students. The discussion about types of instructional aids begins with the most basic aids and progresses to the more complex and expensive aids. The last segment is about new training technologies which may apply to a typical classroom environment, as well as other training environments.
While instructors may become involved in the selection and preparation of instructional aids, usually they are already in place. Instructors simply need to learn how to effectively use them.
For many years, educators have theorized about how the human brain and the memory function during the communicative process. There is general agreement about certain theoretical factors that seem pertinent to understanding the use of instructional aids.
Instructional Aid Theory
For many years, educators have theorized about how the human brain and the memory function during the communicative process. There is general agreement about certain theoretical factors that seem pertinent to understanding the use of instructional aids.
In addition to helping students remember important information, instructional aids have other advantages. When properly used, they help gain and hold the attention of students. Audio or visual aids can be very useful in supporting a topic, and the combination of both audio and visual stimuli is particularly effective since the two most important senses are involved. Instructors should keep in mind that they often are salesmen of ideas, and many of the best sales techniques that attract the attention of potential clients are well worth considering. One caution-the instructional aid should keep student attention on the subject; it should not be a distracting gimmick.
|Clearly, a major goal of all instruction is for the student to be able to retain as much knowledge of the subject as possible, especially the key points. Numerous studies have attempted to determine how well instructional aids serve this purpose. Indications from the studies vary greatly-from modest results, which show a 10 to 15 percent increase in retention, to more optimistic results in which retention is increased by as much as 80 percent.|
Good instructional aids also can help solve certain language barrier problems. Consider the continued expansion of technical terminology in everyday usage. This, coupled with culturally diverse backgrounds of today's students, makes it necessary for instructors to be precise in their choice of terminology. Words or terms used in an instructional aid should be carefully selected to convey the same meaning for the student as they do for the instructor. They should provide an accurate visual image and make learning easier for the student.
Another use for instructional aids is to clarify the relationships between material objects and concepts. When relationships are presented visually, they often are much easier to understand. For example, the subsystems within a physical unit are relatively easy to relate to each other through the use of schematics or diagrams. Symbols, graphs, and diagrams can also show relationships of location, size, time, frequency, and value. By symbolizing the factors involved, it is even possible to visualize abstract relationships.
Instructors are frequently asked to teach more and more in a smaller time frame. Instructional aids can help them do this. For example, instead of using many words to describe a sound, object, or function, the instructor plays a recording of the sound, shows a picture of the object, or presents a diagram of the function. Consequently, the student learns faster and more accurately, and the instructor saves time in the process.
The use of any instructional aid must be planned, based on its ability to support a specific point in a lesson. A simple process can be used to determine if and where instructional aids are necessary.
Aids should be simple and compatible with the learning outcomes to be achieved. Obviously, an explanation of elaborate equipment may require detailed schematics or mockups, but less complex equipment may lend itself to only basic shapes or figures. Since aids are normally used in conjunction with a verbal presentation, words on the aid should be kept to a minimum. In many cases, visual symbols and slogans can replace extended use of verbiage. The instructor should avoid the temptation to use the aids as a crutch. The tendency toward unnecessarily distracting artwork also should be avoided.
Instructional aids should appeal to the student and be based on sound principles of instructional design. When practical, they should encourage student participation. They also should be meaningful to the student, lead to the desired behavioral or learning objectives, and provide appropriate reinforcement. Aids that involve learning a physical skill should guide students toward mastery of the skill or task specified in the lesson objective.
Instructional aids have no value in the learning process if they cannot be heard or seen. Recordings of sounds and speeches should be tested for correct volume and quality in the actual environment in which they will be used. Visual aids must be visible to the entire class. All lettering and illustrations must be large enough to be seen easily by the students farthest from the aids' Colors, when used, should provide clear contrast and easily be visible.
The usefulness of aids can be improved by proper sequencing to build on previous learning. Frequently, good organization and natural patterns of logic dictate the sequence. However, use of standardized materials, including a syllabus, is recommended. Sequencing also can be enhanced simply by using overlays on transparencies, stripping techniques on charts and chalk or marker boards, and by imaginative use of magnetic boards. Sequencing can be emphasized and made clearer by the use of contrasting colors.
The effectiveness of aids and the ease of their preparation can be increased by initially planning them in rough draft form. Revisions and alterations are easier to make at that time than after their completion. The rough draft should be carefully checked for technical accuracy, proper terminology, grammar, spelling, basic balance, clarity, and simplicity. Instructional aids should also be reviewed to determine whether their use is feasible in the training environment and whether they are appropriate for the students.
In practice, the choice of instructional aids depends on several factors. Availability, feasibility, or cost may impose realistic limitations. The number of students in a class and the existing facilities are other considerations. In some school situations, the designers of the curriculum determine the use of instructional aids. In this case, the instructor may have little control over their use. On the other hand, an independent instructor may have considerable latitude, but limited resources. Often, instructors must improvise and adapt to the existing circumstances in order to incorporate quality instructional aids.
Some of the most common and economical aids are chalk or marker boards, and supplemental print materials, including charts, diagrams, and graphs. Other aids, which usually are more expensive, are projected materials, video, computer-based programs, and models, mock-ups, or cut-aways.
The chalk or marker board is one of the most widely used tools for instructors. Its versatility and effectiveness provide several advantages for most types of instruction. First, the material presented can be erased, allowing the surface to be used again and again; and second, the boards serve as an excellent medium for joint student- instructor activity in the classroom. The following practices are fundamental in the use of the chalk or marker board:
Supplemental Print Material
Print media, including photographs, reproductions of pictures, drawings, murals, cartoons, and other print materials are valuable supplemental aids. Charts, diagrams, and graphs are also in this category. Many of these items are suitable for long-term use on bulletin boards and in briefing areas. Pictures, drawings, and photographs are especially effective because they provide common visual imagery for both instructors and students. In addition, they also provide realistic details necessary for visual recognition of important subject material. In many cases, this type of supplemental training media may be reproduced in a format for projection on a screen or other clear surface.
Charts, diagrams, and graphs include any printed material which gives information in tabular form. There are several types of charts which can be used in presenting data such as the pie chart, the flow chart, and the organizational chart, among others. The type of chart selected for use depends largely on the type of information the instructor wants to convey. An important factor is the chart's format. Since charts may consist of a series of single sheets or be tied together in a flip-chart format with several pages, the location and handling of them should be planned in advance.
A graph is a symbolic drawing which shows relationships or makes comparisons. The most common types are the line graph and the bar graph. The selection of a graph for use in any given situation depends upon the type of information the instructor wants to convey.
Charts, diagrams, and graphs can be used effectively to show relationships, chronological changes, distributions, components, and flow. They are easy to construct and can be produced in the same manner as pictures. In addition, they can be drawn on a chalk or marker board and can be duplicated. Care must be taken to display only a small amount of material and to make the material as simple but meaningful as possible.
Numerous other useful print items may be considered as supplemental training aids. Some of these include study guides, exercise books, course outlines, and syllabi. Well-designed course outlines are especially useful to students because they list the key points and help students organize note taking during a lecture.
Enhanced Training Materials
Aviation instructors must cover a broad range of aeronautical knowledge and skill training for pilots and aviation maintenance technicians. The actual training requirements are based in the Federal Aviation Regulations and other publications used by designated pilot and maintenance examiners when they conduct practical tests. While aviation instructors are expected to be familiar with all regulatory training requirements, use of instructor-oriented training materials which are enhanced for regulatory compliance can be very beneficial for ensuring required training is being accomplished, endorsed, and properly documented. Whether working as an individual instructor or employed by a flight or maintenance school, the instructor must ensure that each student accomplishes a number of important benchmarks. Enhanced training materials, which include these benchmarks, can help aviation instructors to complete, endorse, and document required training.
One example of these types of materials includes training syllabi, which have provisions for instructor endorsements and record keeping. Such syllabi not only present the course of training in a logical stepby-step, building block sequence, they contain provisions to remind both students and instructors of critical regulatory training benchmarks which are approaching. Blocks for instructor endorsements also may be included at appropriate points. Provisions for logging training time can be incorporated so the syllabus could also serve as the training record for the student, instructor, or school. When required endorsements and record keeping provisions are designed into training syllabi, it is much easier, from the instructors' standpoint, to conduct required training, track student progress, and certify records. In case the student transfers to another school or instructor, the training record can be reviewed and the student's training status easily assessed.
Another example of enhanced, instructor-oriented material for pilot training is a maneuvers guide or handbook which includes the practical test standards as an integral part of the description of maneuvers and procedures. Students learn from the beginning how to perform the maneuver or procedure and also become familiar with the performance criteria. Instructors need not refer to another document to evaluate the student's performance. The examiner for the Oral and Practical (O&P) is required to ask four questions in each of the subject areas, which are required by the regulations to be taught. The examiner also is required to assign a practical project from each subject area. Individual maintenance instructors, as well as publishers, have compiled lists of typical questions and projects. Use of these questions and projects as part of the syllabus helps an instructor ensure that all subject areas for a particular class have been covered.
There are many ways to incorporate design features in training materials in order to facilitate regulatory compliance, required endorsements, and record keeping. Computer-based training also can be designed so the progress of the student can be tracked and documented. As training becomes more detailed and complex, instructor-oriented materials can be a valuable instructional aid for all aviation instructors. More information on enhanced training materials is presented in Chapter 10.
Traditional aids in this group include motion pictures, filmstrips, slides of various sizes, transparencies for overhead projection, and specialized equipment such as rear screen projection or an opaque projector. However, the use of motion pictures and filmstrips for training has declined, mostly because of availability of more user-friendly media such as video. The essential factor governing continued use is that the content must be current and support the lesson.
Use of projected materials requires planning and practice. The instructor should set up and adjust the equipment and lighting beforehand and then preview the presentation. During a classroom session, the instructor should provide students with an overview of the presentation before showing it. After the presentation, the instructor should allow time for questions and a summary of key points.
Aside from a chalk or marker board, the overhead transparency and projector is still one of the more convenient and cost effective instructional aids. With acetate or plastic, instructors can easily create their own overhead transparencies, or they may purchase commercially produced ones.
The equipment can be placed at the front of the room, allowing the instructor to maintain eye contact with Students. The brilliant light source concentrated at a short distance makes it possible to use the projector in lighted areas. The instructor also can write on a blank transparency as the lesson progresses, much like a chalk or marker board. Additional transparencies can be overlaid onto the original to show development or buildup of an event or display. Overlays can also be cut into various shapes and moved about in relation to the base transparency. This is a useful technique for displaying dial indications or fitting several parts of a component together so relative motion can be simulated.
As with any projection equipment, instructors should ensure that the projector does not obstruct the students' line of sight. The projector usually works better on a low stand, chair, or table. The projection angle should be adjusted to eliminate image distortion. Finally, although the overhead projector is simple to operate and requires little maintenance, it has disadvantages. Most projectors are bulky to handle and store, and the fan used for cooling the projector may be noisy.
Although vastly different from other projection equipment, the opaque projector reflects light from the surface of the picture or three-dimensional object onto a regular projection screen. The height of usable objects is limited to the space between the top of the lowered projection plate and the body of the projector, usually about two or three inches. The area of the picture or object is limited to approximately 10 inches by 10 inches.
Items which may be projected are practically limitless. A postage stamp, typed material, textbook illustrations, or a defective spark plug are representative of the items that may be projected. This equipment is especially adapted to enlarging diagrams and small charts for display purposes. Since the material projected requires no special preparation, the cost is very low. Many of the limitations of the overhead projector are also true of the opaque projector.
As indicated previously, video has become one of the most popular of all instructional aids. The initial discussion of video, which follows, is limited to passive video. Interactive video is covered separately.
Passive video cassettes provide motion, color, sound, and in many cases, special effects with advanced graphic and animation techniques. High-quality, commercially produced video cassettes are available for almost every subject pertaining to aviation training. Consequently, video has replaced many of the projection-type instructional aids.
Advantages of video are well documented. The current generation of students is sometimes referred to as the video generation. Some educators have theorized that TV has produced a visual culture that has actually changed the way people learn. In any case, it is apparent that most, if not all, students are familiar with and receptive to video.
For instructors, the convenience of video is certainly an advantage. The capability to easily stop, freeze, rewind, and replay is particularly helpful for both instructors and students. The cost of a video cassette and the associated equipment, although higher than some of the more basic instructional aid equipment, is fairly economical. In addition, the video cassette recorder and television can be used for other than instructional purposes.
Instructors also should be aware of certain disadvantages with video. Students are often accustomed to dramatic, action-packed film or video that is designed as entertainment. At the same time, they tend to watch film or TV in a passive way without attempting to absorb what they are seeing and hearing. Instructional video, in comparison, normally is perceived as much less exciting and less stimulating visually. This, coupled with an inattentive viewing style, can diminish the instructional value of the video.
As is true with any instructional aid, instructors need to follow some basic guidelines when using video. For example, the video presentation is not designed to replace the instructor. Prior planning and rehearsal will help determine the important points and concepts that should be stressed, either during the presentation or as part of a summary. Instructors should also try to prepare students for viewing video programs by telling them what to watch carefully, what is important, or possibly, what is incorrect. In addition, instructors should be available to summarize the presentation and answer any questions students may have regarding content.
Interactive video refers broadly to software that responds quickly to certain choices and commands by the user. A typical system consists of a combination of a compact disk, computer, and video technology. A compact disk (CD) is a format for storing information digitally. A major advantage of a CD is the capability to store enormous amounts of information. As an example, a single compact disk may contain all pertinent aviation regulations, plus the complete AIM. With search and find features incorporated, a CD is a powerful information source. The software may include additional features such as image banks with full color photos and graphics, as well as questions or directions which are programmed to create interactivity for students as they progress through the course.
The questions or directions are programmed using a branching technique, which provides several possible courses of action for the user to choose in order to move from one sequence to another. For example, a program may indicate, "That was incorrect. Go back to ... and try again."
Interactive video solves one of the main problems of passive video in that it increases involvement of the student in the learning process. Well-designed interactive video, when properly used, is highly effective as an instructional aid. Each student essentially receives a customized learning experience.
Distance learning, or distance education, is another trend applicable to aviation. In general terms, distance learning is the use of print or electronic media to deliver instruction when the instructor and student are separated. It also may be defined as a system and process that connects students with resources for learning. As sources for access to information expand, the possibilities for distance learning increases.
Interactive video is one form of computer-based multimedia. However, in recent years, the terms computerbased training (CBT), or multimedia training, have become very popular. The term multimedia is not new. Multimedia has been used for decades in some form or other. In a basic form, multimedia is a combination of more than one instructional media, but it could include several forms of media-audio, text, graphics, and video (or film). Multimedia in a more current context generally implies a computer-based media that is shown on personal computers (PCs). With computerbased multimedia, information access is simplified. Sophisticated databases can organize vast amounts of information which can be quickly sorted, searched, found, and cross-indexed.
Real interactivity with computer-based training means the student is fully engaged with the instruction by doing something meaningful which makes the subject of study come alive. For example, the student frequently is able to control the pace of instruction, review previous material, jump forward, and receive instant feedback. With advanced tracking features, computer-based training also can be used to test the student's achievement, compare the results with past performance, and indicate the student's weak or strong areas.
Although computers are often used on an individual basis by students, equipment is available that can project images from a computer screen. This allows the instructor to use a computer in conjunction with specially designed software programs to create presentations for an entire class. The instructor can tailor the presentation for the class, if necessary, and also include graphics at appropriate points.
With computer-based training, the role of both the student and the instructor changes. Students become more involved in their own learning, and instructors may no longer occupy a center-stage position in a typical classroom setting. Instead, instructors become supportive facilitators of the computer-based multimedia program. As such, they serve as guides or resource experts and circulate among students who are working individually or in small groups. This results in considerable one-onone instructor/student interaction. Thus, the instructor provides assistance, reinforcement, and answers questions for those who need it most.
In this situation, the computer-based training should still be considered as an add-on instructional aid to improve traditional classroom instruction. The instructor, although no longer the center of attention, must continue to maintain complete control over the learning environment to ensure learning objectives are being achieved.
A more advanced application of computer-based training may involve less instructor control. For example, a laboratory-type environment may be configured with separate study areas for each student. With this setup, the physical facility is usually referred to as a learning center or training center. Students in these centers are often monitored by a teacher's aid, or other trained personnel, who can provide guidance, answer questions, and act as a conduit to the instructor who is responsible for the training. In this case, the responsible instructor needs to establish procedures to make sure the required training is accomplished, since he or she must certify student competency at the end of the course.
Numerous advantages are attributed to computer-based multimedia training. It is widely used in airline training for both pilots and aviation maintenance technicians. Due to the active nature of CBT, the overall learning process is enhanced in several ways. Well-designed programs allow students to feel like they are in control of what they are learning and how fast they learn it. They can explore areas that interest them and discover more about a subject on their own. In addition, learning often seems more enjoyable than learning from a regular classroom lecture. The main advantages are less time spent on instruction compared to traditional classroom training, and higher levels of mastery and retention.
Disadvantages include the lack of peer interaction and personal feedback. For the instructor, maintaining control of the learning situation may be difficult. It also may be difficult to find good CBT programs for certain subject areas, and the expense associated with the equipment, software, and facilities must be considered. In addition, instructors and students may lack sufficient experience with personal computers to take full advantage of the CBT programs that are available.
Models, Mock-ups, and Cut-Aways
Models, mock-ups, and cut-aways are additional instructional aids. A model is a copy of a real object. It can be an enlargement, a reduction, or the same size as the original. The scale model represents an exact reproduction of the original, while simplified models do not represent reality in all details. Some models are solid and show only the outline of the object they portray, while others can be manipulated or operated. Still others, called cut-aways, are built in sections and can be taken apart to reveal the internal structure. Whenever possible, the various parts should be labeled or colored to clarify relationships.
Although a model may not be a realistic copy of an actual piece of equipment, it can be used effectively in explaining operating principles of various types of equipment. Models are especially adaptable to small group discussions in which students are encouraged to ask questions. A model is even more effective if it works like the original, and if it can be taken apart and reassembled. With the display of an operating model, the students can observe how each part works in relation to the other parts. When the instructor points to each part of the model while explaining these relationships, the students can better understand the mechanical principles involved. As instructional aids, models are usually more practical than originals because they are lightweight and easy to manipulate.
A mock-up is a three-dimensional or specialized type of working model made from real or synthetic materials. It is used for study, training, or testing in place of the real object, which is too costly or too dangerous, or which is impossible to obtain. The mock-up may emphasize or highlight elements or components for learning and eliminate nonessential elements.
Production and equipment costs are limiting factors to consider in developing and using models, mockups, and cut-aways. Depending on the nature of the representation, costs can vary from low to high. For instance, scale replicas are often very expensive. In general, if a two-dimensional representation will satisfy the instructor's requirement, it should be used.
Test preparation material applies to an array of paperbased, video, and computer-based products that are designed by commercial publishers to help student applicants prepare for FAA tests. While test preparation materials may be effective in preparing students for FAA tests, the danger is that students may learn to pass a given test, but fail to learn other critical information essential to safe piloting and maintenance practices. In addition, FAA inspectors and designated examiners have found that student applicants often exhibit a lack of knowledge during oral questioning, even though many have easily passed the FAA knowledge test. A major shortcoming of test preparation materials is that the emphasis is on rote learning, which is the lowest of all levels of learning.
Test preparation materials, as well as instructors, that dwell on teaching the test are shortchanging student applicants. All instructors who use test preparation publications should stress that these materials are not designed as stand-alone learning tools. They should be considered as a supplement to instructor-led training.
While no one person can accurately predict the future, most will agree that new technological advances will affect practically everyone. In aviation training, the increased use of computer technology, such as CBT, simulation, and virtual reality will continue to expand. The proliferation of sources for information has prompted writers to refer to the current era as the information age. Electronic communications, including use of computer databases, voice mail, e-mail, the Internet, the World Wide Web, and satellite-based, wireless communications, have become routine. This explosion of information access has already affected aviation training, and it will be even more significant in the future.
Emerging computer technology includes improved voicerecognition software and miniature electro-optical devices. Voice-recognition technology, which lets computers accept spoken rather than keyed input, is expected to be highly effective for technical training. Miniature electro-optical devices have also advanced beyond the science fiction stage. With these devices, computer-aided information is projected electronically on sunglass-style eyewear which is connected to a lightweight, beltmounted computer. The computer-aided information would be particularly useful for aviation maintenance activities. For example, it would be possible for a technician's eyes to easily move back and forth from computer-generated technical data to the actual hardware while diagnosing and correcting a maintenance problem.
Trends in training indicate a shift from the typical classroom to more extensive use of a lab-type environment with computer work or study stations. This is part of the learning or training center concept in which students become more actively involved and responsible for their own training. In these centers, students will have access to simulation devices, computer networks, and multimedia programs. As a related part of this concept, training system designers advocate more use of group or collaborative learning techniques, cable or closed circuit TV, interactive multimedia, and electronic communications. Aviation-related learning centers are usually associated with colleges, universities, and research centers. The airlines, as well as aeronautical programs at some colleges and universities, have used similar facilities for many years. Further growth in this type of training is likely.
One other type of computer-based technology is virtual reality. Virtual reality (VR) actually is a separate form of computer-based technology. It creates a sensory experience that allows a participant to believe and barely distinguish a virtual experience from a real one. VR uses graphics with animation systems, sounds, and images to reproduce electronic versions of real-life experience. Despite enormous potential, VR, in its current stage of development, has drawbacks. It is extremely expensive, and versions with a head-mounted display sometimes produce unfavorable side effects.
For those engaged in aviation training, the implications of ongoing technological advances should be apparent. The challenge will be to learn how to stay abreast of the changes that apply to training and adopt those that are the most useful and cost effective. Since much of the new technology will be based on computer technology, instructors with well-developed computer skills will be in demand. In the new century, much of the existing technology will become obsolete. New, more efficient, and probably more complex technology will appear and replace the old.
Although the explosion of training technology offers new opportunities, instructors must remember their main teaching goals and be selectively receptive to new possibilities. Electronic information on computer networks and bulletin boards is from commercial providers, as well as community, state, and national government agencies. There is no guarantee that all of this information is current, or even accurate.
Professional instructors need to be resourceful and discriminating. They should study and research extensively in professional journals and other publications as well as use the Internet. Above all, they should use creativity and imagination. There is always a better way to help students learn what they really need to know. In the next chapter, the broad scope of aviation instructor responsibilities is fully covered. Among these are the need for instructors to continue to update and expand their existing levels of knowledge and skill. The subject of professionalism, along with several methods for enhancing the instructor's professional image, also is discussed.
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