Instructional Aids and Training Technologies (Part Three)


CDs and DVDs are today’s popular video instructional aids. Some educators believe that television and the film industry have produced a visual culture that has actually changed the way people learn.

Passive video, or video that the student watches like a movie, provide motion, color, sound, and in many cases, special effects with advanced graphic and animation techniques. High-quality, commercially produced CDs and DVDs are available for almost every aviation training subject. Consequently, CDs and DVDs have replaced many of the projection-type instructional aids.


For instructors, the convenience of CDs and DVDs is certainly an advantage. The capability to stop, freeze, and replay information is helpful for both instructors and students. CDs and DVDs and the associated equipment, although more expensive than some of the more basic instructional aid equipment, are fairly economical. Unlike other forms of projected material, CDs and DVDs can also be played on a laptop computer.

On the other hand, CDs and DVDs offer their own disadvantages. Students are often accustomed to dramatic, action-packed movies or games designed as entertainment. They also tend to watch movies or TV in a passive way without attempting to absorb what they are seeing and hearing. Instructional CDs and DVDs, in comparison, are perceived as much less exciting and less stimulating visually. This, coupled with an inattentive viewing style, can diminish the instructional value of the CD or DVD.

As is true for any instructional aid, instructors need to follow some basic guidelines when using CDs and DVDs. For example, the 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 CD/DVD 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 CDs and DVDs

“Interactive” refers broadly to computer software that responds quickly to certain choices and commands by the user. A typical system consists of a CD or DVD and a computer. A major advantage of CDs and DVDs is the capability to store enormous amounts of information. As an example, a single CD or DVD may contain all pertinent aviation regulations, plus the complete AIM. With search-and-find features incorporated, a CD or DVD 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 CDs and DVDs solve 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.


Computer-Assisted Learning (CAL)

As mentioned earlier, CAL has become a popular training delivery method. In its basic form, CAL is a combination of more than one instructional media, such as audio, text, graphics, and video (or film) usually shown on a PC.

With CAL, the roles of both student and instructor change. 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. 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-on-one instructor-student interaction. Thus, the instructor provides assistance, reinforcement, and answers for those who need it most.

In this situation, the CAL 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. [Figure 4-19]

Figure 4-19. In a computer-assisted learning environment, the instructor must still ensure that learning objectives are being achieved.

Figure 4-19. In a computer-assisted learning environment, the instructor must still ensure that 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 aide 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.


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.

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.

Cut-aways, another type of model, 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.

Production and equipment costs are limiting factors to consider in developing and using models, mock-ups, and cut-aways. Depending on the nature of the representation, cost can vary. 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.