Online Ground School Vs. Traditional Ground School

Online Ground School Vs. Traditional Ground School

The landscape of flight training today is quite different from what it was even several years ago. Technology has played a major role in redefining that landscape. Today you see many flight schools operating full-motion simulators and using 360-degree video technology to demonstrate flight maneuvers. Ground school has opened up from the traditional classroom setting to online ground school. While learning online can be a foreign concept to many, it can provide a lot of benefits over traditional ground school. Let’s explore some of the differences.

Traditional Ground School

In-person school is something we are all familiar with. Anyone who has completed grade 1 will have experienced such a setting. There are no surprises here. The standard setup is a cohort of students sitting at desks or tables watching an instructor at the front give a presentation anchored by a PowerPoint slide show. Most ground schools will have hands-on exercises for map reading, flight computing/planning, and other activities as the instructor sees fit. 

The schedule for traditional ground school is normally one of the following:

  • Two or three evenings a week for 3 hours for a term of roughly 3 months. 
  • A Saturday and/or Sunday full-day course that also runs for 2-3 months.

These courses can be set up to follow a set term or can be continuously running. A set term would be a course starting, let's say March 1st, every Tuesday and Thursday evening for three months. This course might only repeat two or three times a year. The ongoing course would run through the normal term and then the following week start again from the first lesson. The advantage to this type of structure is that most flight schools will allow you to start at almost any lesson, preventing you from waiting too long for a new course to start.

The Pros
There are several advantages to a traditional ground school:

  • Provide a familiar learning environment.
  • Allow for more group engagement.
  • One on one interaction with the instructor.
  • A bit more flexibility on activities available.

The Cons
Inevitably there are downsides:

  • Less flexibility for your schedule and lifestyle.
  • If you miss a class you will have to wait until the next one comes around to make up for it or spend a bunch of money for a one on one lesson.
  • You spend time and money driving to the airport for each class.
  • Sometimes ground schools are taught by inexperienced instructors who might not fully grasp the material they are teaching. I want to be cautious not to dig into new instructors...I was one once. But the reality is that instructing is normally a stepping stone to new opportunities for many pilots. Even the keenest and most knowledgeable instructors will eventually move on and be replaced. This creates a lack of consistency within the ground school environment. Some schools have very senior and experienced instructors who teach their ground schools and have for many years, but many do not. 

Online Ground School

Online ground school has been available in Canada for many years. It is not until recently that more than a few options have started popping up. With many businesses using e-learning for employee training, and schools using it over the Covid 19 Pandemic, most of us have been exposed to some type of online learning. Taking your ground school online can have many benefits. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about the shortfalls of online ground school. Some of those misconceptions might stem from years of poor quality content and learning platforms. With today's technology, online ground school can provide an enriched learning experience.

The many advantages to online ground school:

  • Schedule Flexibility.
  • Cheaper because you save time and money by not driving to the airport.
  • Ability to revisit any lesson, quiz, or exam, as many times as you wish.
  • Enhanced graphics, and visuals.
  • The use of many audio/visual aids to enhance learning that won’t be seen in traditional ground school.
  • Oftentimes there is quick access to support any time of the day.
  • You can learn on any device.
  • There are opportunities for students to engage in discussion groups and other online forums which allow a connection between students all over the country. 
  • Online ground schools are often created by industry experts and are immune to the ebbs and flows of the instructor cycles.
  • Online ground school offers the unique opportunity to include all kinds of additional resources that might be optional but will greatly enhance the learning experience.
  • If you choose the right online ground school you will have access to industry professionals that have a wide range of experiences that can help advance your career. 

There are always a few:

  • It takes some people a bit of time to get used to the structure of online learning.
  • No face-to-face engagement with an instructor. Unless the component of the online ground school includes a Zoom-type lecture.
  • For unmotivated students, an online ground school can present a challenge. However, I will say that unmotivated students will find the entirety of pilot training difficult whether online or not. 
  • You don’t get to smell the fine aroma of burning Av-Gas and Jet fuel because you aren’t at the airport. 

Canada's Online Ground School Professionals

Whatever your aviation goals are there will always be different avenues to achieve them. Choose a solution that works best for you. If you choose to take an online ground school then find one that is high quality, engaging and professional. Find a company that is invested in your success and will work with you to achieve your goals. The team at Level Flight is made up of industry professionals who have the knowledge and experience to help you earn your wings. Get in touch today by calling (403) 483-2880 or filling out the online contact form.


If you follow a structured routine that will allow you about 6-8 hours of activity within the course per week you should be able to finish within a few months. Be sure to choose an online ground school that will give you access beyond that time so you can use the ground school as a study resource when preparing for your Transport Canada written exam.

No. The saying you get what you pay for is oftentimes applicable here. Do your homework, choose a program that is modern, provides many avenues of delivery, and does not simply run you through a PowerPoint presentation. The use of high-quality technology to deliver superior ground schools comes at a cost. This might be reflected in the cost of the ground school but can be well worth it.

The best part of flight training is that you can split the ground school apart from the flight school. You may only have one option for flight training in your area. This does not mean you need to be stuck with their ground school. If they offer a quality ground school then great! But if you’d rather take yours elsewhere you certainly have the flexibility to do so.

Take Flight Now

Level Flight is Canada’s best online ground school. It is our mandate to provide higher quality, more engaging training for Canadian Student Pilots. If you are seeking the exhilarating freedom of flight for a hobby or with aspirations of a career in the skies, Level Flight offers the best ground school experience available. Sign up for our online learning platform now and discover the adventure that awaits you at Level Flight. 

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