Read the statements below and fill in the spaces. I’ll explain why later.
- Between 70% and 80% of __________ never earn a ___________.
- What are the problems with _______________ and why do so many students not finish?
- Above all else, the _________ instructor is key to a successful course of training.
- How well a school manages and supports its ___________ instructors is, not surprisingly, important. The relationship between instructor and student is key.
- According to research results, qualities such as professional demeanor, effective teaching skills, availability for consultations, and proper experience are all important factors related to the student/__________ instructor relationship.
- Issues relating to ___________ instructors, the quality of instruction, and the _________ school were most critical to the process.
- Good _________ instruction is a driving factor of a positive experience and presumably a good predictor of _________ completion.
Few people who know me know that I earned my pilot’s license when I was 17, and that I flew planes, tail draggers, and became proficient in aerobatics during my college years. Concurrently, I also spent several years flying sailplanes (gliders to you muggles). However, late in my degree work, I quit all flying suddenly when a college instructor asked me if flying was taking me towards or away from my goals. I’ve not flown in 40 years, but that doesn’t mean the desire wasn’t there. I’ve not regretted focusing on my career and I’m both proud and satisfied with the path I’ve taken. However, as I near retirement, I’ve begun my studies to return to the sky. Strangely, pilot licenses never expire.
Catching up with the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Flight Training magazine, I came across this March, 2011 article, “The Flight Training Experience: Making it Work,” which reported on an AOPA survey of more than 1000 former student pilots to find out why so many were not completing their studies. Sound familiar already, doesn’t it?
Evidently, “Between 70% and 80% of student pilots never earn a pilot certificate”, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable to draw parallels between online learning and flight training. The article asked, “What are the problems with flight training and why do so many students not finish?”
Analyzing the data, they summarized, “Above all else, the flight instructor is key to a successful course of training. How well a school manages and supports its flight instructors is, not surprisingly, important. The relationship between instructor and student is key.” We easily could have substituted that the online instructor is key to a student’s success and that how the online school works with and supports its instructors is critical. Is the online instructor regularly available for consultations? Has the school provided online instructors professional development in the behavioral, social, and emotional aspects of the online learning environment? Are online instructors prepared to utilize a variety of communication modes to stimulate student engagement online? Does the school provide teachers support to ensure their effectiveness?
“According to research results, qualities such as professional demeanor, effective teaching skills, availability for consultations, and proper experience are all important factors related to the student/flight instructor relationship.” So too is the importance of the student/online instructor relationship as well as the teacher’s skill set, professionalism, and availability
“Issues relating to flight instructors, the quality of instruction, and the flight school were most critical to the process.”
“Good flight instruction is a driving factor of a positive experience and presumably a good predictor of training completion.”
It’s all so simple. Relationships matter, whether it’s between teachers and students, or between schools and their teachers. Pedagogies may change between face-to-face and online instruction, but the relationship between instructors and students is a key factor to student success. Equally important is the professional development required for teachers to transition to the online environment. Understanding how a student learns, what are their immediate needs, where they are based upon ongoing assessments are all common factors that promote student success. The Airplane Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) understands this. We should too.