Student Pilots Learn Theory In Virtual Classroom

Lilienthal distance-learning project being integrated into LFT training
The future of multimedia offline and online learning has already begun for student pilots being trained at the Lufthansa Flight Training pilot school in Bremen.
Since the end of September many members of its 304th and 305th student-pilot classes have been absorbing needed theoretical knowledge through their home computers before the start of their actual training. In so doing, they have been participating in an operational test of the Lilienthal distance-learning project - initially as volunteers before this online teaching of theory becomes fully integrated into the school`s regular course on theory, beginning with its 307th class of student pilots.
Over a period of more than two years, which ended this past summer, an Internet-based “European Virtual Pilot School” was developed under the name “Lilienthal”. Initially its curriculum includes all instruction in theory required for the PPL-A private pilot`s license under Europe`s new JAR standards. A hundred hours of theory instruction covering 108 subjects have been broken down into 204 modules (instruction units) comprising a total of some 5,000 HTML pages. Each module consists of from three to twelve learning steps which present information and learning content in the form of text and supporting multimedia elements such as graphics, photographs, animated cartoons, audio, video or interactive CBT sequences (simulations). The learning content is at an above-average level and is aimed primarily at students aspiring to be professional pilots.


As an operational test of the system, six weeks before the start of their formal training the LFT students received a CD-ROM containing a guided tour encompassing a selected 23 of the total 204 modules, plus detailed instructions on how to proceed. The subject matter was primarily basic knowledge on mathematical and physical fundamentals.
The student pilots participating in this virtual class were closely supervised by Lufthansa Flight Training teletutors. They did assignments and exercises in a discussion-group context, and in chat hours discussed questions posed to them and worked on technical problems. In chat rooms they made initial contacts with their future cockpit colleagues. The instructors used a bulletin board to keep their online students informed about the most important new developments. Notice of additional exercises and of the teletutors` chat or discussion hours was also posted on the bulletin board.


In entry tests at the start of their actual training, the students had to demonstrate what they had learned. According to Alexander von Perger, who is in charge of integrating Lilienthal into LFT`s instruction on theory, the students who had participated in the virtual class were well ahead of those who had not. Student pilots are enthusiastic about the advantages of the new learning platform. While in the 304th class 17 of its 28 students had volunteered for this preliminary course, in the 305th it was 22 out of 24. After the next class, ways will be found for realizing potential savings on the learning content covered by the guided tour. To this end, more instructors will be taught how to be teletutors. LFT will then increase the number of modules in the Lilienthal preliminary course, which will then become mandatory for all students.


At Lufthansa Flight Training this distance-learning system will in the long run be used primarily as a preliminary course, as it will at the other founding schools: KLM Flight Academy, Horizon Swiss Flight Academy, École de Pilotage Amaury de la Grange and the Institut Aéronautique Jean Mermoz. The course will ensure that students will start out with a uniform, higher level of knowledge when they begin their formal training, and it will ultimately shorten the time during which they have to be physically present at the school.


More information can be obtained by visiting the Virtual Pilot School`s website at www.pilotschool.net, where one can sign up for a free 30-day demonstration course.

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