Thursday, August 3, 2017

Want to know more about Planes and Flight? Check out Doctor Aviation!

When we received Doctor Aviation's Six-month Online Aviation Course for review, my Middlest wasn't quite on board. Although his grandfather had a huge interest in planes and flying, his interest was less so. However, I asked him to give it a go (and mentioned that depending on his use of the program he might be able to earn HS Credit for the course) and so he did.

Doctor Aviation is primarily a video course, with fifteen 45-70 minute video lessons, accessed via subscription. This course exceeded our expectations, as my son enjoyed this course much more than he anticipated. As is key with my children, "Doctor Aviation"  (aka Daryl Smith) has a pleasing voice to listen to, and he explains things well, creating a clear picture of what he is speaking about. And he should know what he's talking about~ he has an extensive history in aviation and flight (over 2000 flying hours) in his 24 years with the Air Force, including teaching at the Air Force Academy and authoring a book on aviation, published by McGraw Hill.

Here is a short introductory video to give you a taste for the course. You can also access the first session for free on the website.

The Video Lessons are broken down into three sections:
Technical Trivia ~ Scientific principles behind flight
Notable Innovators ~ Introductions to those who have affected the history of flight
Legendary Aircraft/Events ~ Specific aircraft and events that have shaped the path of aviation

Guided Study Notes
In addition to the video lessons, Doctor Aviation has made available "Guided Notes" for each lesson, to help your student retain the information given in the video lecture. These are particularly important, as one can't scroll back and forth through the video~ if you want to watch a part of it again, you have to watch the whole video.

The notes are mostly fill-in-the-blank style, which makes it quicker and easier to follow along, and also helps a new note-taker begin to understand how to take notes (ie, how to recognize the important information/keywords).

Learn More Resources
To further the learning aspect of this course there are also "To Learn More" resources including books, websites, and videos. Below is an example found at the end of one of the resource pages with specific suggestions for using the resources for further study...

High School Credit/Exams
There are also Exams (and Answer Keys) available if your student is taking this course for High School Credit... which are not accessed directly on the website. Here is the notice that shows up on the Session 5 page. We haven't gone down that path this summer, just yet, but there is avery good chance that we will continue this fall, to pick up an extra bit of HS Credit!

Some Technical Details
The website is fairly basic and easy to navigate, although the number of ways to get to each lesson was a little confusing/surprising. I'm going to detail that for you a little, just because that was one of the things that made it a little confusing for navigation/course recording purposes.

From the Dashboard Page (below) you can:
  • Watch This Lesson
  • Go to Video Course
The Front "Dashboard" Page

If you click on "Watch This Lesson" you will be brought to this page where you can click play to watch the video lesson, download the Guided Notes (Which are extremely helpful for new note-takers), and download the "To Learn More" resource for the lesson.

If you click on "Go To Video Course" (From the Dashboard Page) you will reach the following page, from which you can click on each of the 15 lessons in order to access them, so if you click on Session 2 you will reach the page shown above. This is the way my son accessed the lessons, without actively clicking on the "mark as complete" button (also shown above)... which meant that his progress wasn't recorded... oops! (Which is why is shows only 6% complete, when in fact when I took this screenshot Middlest was actually 25% of the way through watching the lessons).

You can also click on the "section" (in this case, I clicked on "the Aircraft") which will bring you to another page from which you can access the lesson by clicking on the Session number.

So, a little clunky. I really think that with a little navigation clean up, the website would work a little better. But in the meantime, when you watch a video/complete a lesson, be sure to click that big yellow "Mark As Complete" button if you want to know where you left off.

Also, if the videos could be paused (and remember where you left off if you are called away from watching for some reason), as well as offer a scroll bar if you want to re-listen to a particular portion, that would be major benefit from our perspective.

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
A solid, entertaining introduction to aviation provided by a congenial authority with ample visual interest, note-taking helps, and extra resources. I could see this being super-useful to a CAP (Civil Air Patrol) program, as well as any homeschooler who is interested in flight in any way, shape or form. My semi-interested son (before watching) has told me multiple times how much he has been enjoying the program, which is a pretty good recommendation in my book! :) 
  • Company and Product: Doctor Aviation
  • Product: Six-month Online Aviation Course
  • Ages: If used alone, High School-Adult, If used together, suitable for scouting badges, etc... Middle School? And if you have an elementary student who is fascinated by flight, this would be totally appropriate for them to watch, even if some of it might be above their comprehension level. 
  • Price: $99/half year
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