How NATS engaged a new generation of Air Traffic Controllers

by | Aug 7, 2017 | Case Studies, Evidence for Change, Featured

This case study describes how NATS used e-learning to engage a new generation of trainee flight controllers and increase the success rate of candidates. This project took gold at the 2016 Learning Technologies Awards for ‘Excellence in the design of learning content’ with its use of micro-learning and mini games for Air Traffic Controller training.

NATS logoThe UK air traffic management service, NATS, has been a driving force in the aviation industry, providing Air Traffic Control for the UK and thirty other countries around the world. Their service handles 2.4 million flights alone in the UK, transporting over 250 million passengers. To keep all this traffic flying smoothly, NATS must provide the highest standards of training for their Air Traffic Controllers.

Image: NATS – UK air traffic control: Inside Heathrow Air Traffic Control Tower

The Problem

Each year, the NATS College recruits Trainee Air Traffic Controllers (TATCs) into a demanding three-year programme. Only those who satisfy the high standards required by NATS will progress to become fully qualified Air Traffic Control Officers (ATCOs). However, NATS increasingly found that the level of knowledge amongst its applicants prior to the commencement of training varied considerably.

The college realised that its existing paper-based resources that brought trainees up to a foundation level prior to formal training, was no longer engaging the current generation of trainees. Unless NATS could develop a new way of delivering this foundational knowledge in an engaging way for its new trainees, it would face a crisis in the number progressing to the full training program.

The objective was simple: support all TATCs in reaching the same level of foundational knowledge, to give them the best chance of qualifying.

The Challenge

NATS needed a solution that:

  • Was cost effective to design and deliver
  • Was accessible on both desktop and tablet to maximise take-up
  • Provided content in an engaging format that encouraged TATCs to return

NATS approached SiyonaTech to help it to develop an interactive resource that would provide some of the foundation learning in a more engaging format to meet the expectations and preferred learning style of a new generation of TATCs.

What you’ll learn in this case study

  • How to design and deliver e-learning program that is cost effective
  • How to effectively design a training format that can be accessible on a range of platforms: tablets, desktops and laptops
  • Provided content in an engaging format that encouraged TATCs to return and complete their training
  • How to design a suite of e-learning using highly interactive methods, such as games, simulations, video / audio and animation in their learning solutions, can deliver detailed information effectively
  • How to design a system that will enable learners to track their own improvement and to identify weaknesses and knowledge gaps
  • Enable tutors to more effectively keep on top of individual student progress and to provide tailored support when required

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By Laura Overton, Towards Maturity
Follow on Twitter: @LauraOverton @TowardsMaturity

The case study has been created as part of the Towards Maturity and Learning Technologies Awards Good Practice Partnership, established in 2011.

About NATS

The UK air traffic management service, NATS, has been a driving force in the aviation industry, providing Air Traffic Control for the UK and thirty other countries around the world. Each year their service handles 2.4 million flights alone in the UK, transporting over 250 million passengers. To keep all this traffic flying smoothly, NATS must provide the highest standards of training for their Air Traffic Controllers.

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