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Piloting is a crucial stage of materials development

Piloting is a crucial stage of materials development Yogendra Chapagain Abstract- No doubt, piloting is a

Yogendra Chapagain

Abstract- No doubt, piloting is a crucial stage of materials development. It plays significant role in producing effective materials. Here, Mr.Chapagain has attempted to explore the concept of ‘Piloting is a crucial stage of materials development’ through this article, by the help of following TEN questions;

1 what is piloting?

2 what are the types of piloting?

3 what is piloted?

4 who are the piloters?

5 what are the factors that are taken into consideration while piloting?

6 Is piloting activity constrained by different factors?

7 who gets what benefits from piloting?

8 what are the stages of piloting?

9 what can go wrong in piloting process?

10 Is piloting a crucial stage of materials development?

Piloting is one of the aspects of materials development that refers to the pretesting of that material before real or actual implementation to see their effectiveness. Even after a careful writing of materials, there are likely to be some problems. So materials should be administrated first to a group as similar as possible to the one for which it is really intended to identify the problems before the materials are administrated to the intended group. Thus, piloting here refers to all trails/pretesting/pre-assessing activities of the material that take place before it is actually lunched or implemented. It is done to see their effectiveness.

It can be done in two ways: piloting by the individual piloter and piloting by the large scale project. That’s why, there can be two types of piloting: a) piloter’s piloting (piloting by the individual piloter/teacher) b) large scale project based piloting (piloting by the large scale project).The differences between piloter’s piloting and Large scale project based piloting can be pointed out as follows;


Piloter’s piloting

Large scale project based piloting

1) Proximity

Authors are physically closed or present with piloting event because teachers themselves are the piloters.

Authors are physically distanced from piloting event because teachers and piloters may not be the same person.

2) Volition

Piloters have compulsion to use the materials.

Piloters have free choice to use them.

3) Status of materials

Materials will be the part of

Materials will not be the part of


teaching programme.

teaching programme

4) Time

It can be done in flexible time

It can be done in specific and limited period.

5) Channels of communication

It has less or restricted sources/channels for communication or collecting information.

It has high sources/ channels for that purpose.

6) Benefits

It has (- financial). It does not require more money and resources.

It has (+ financial). It requires more money and resources.

Any new materials can be piloted. They may be course book or supplementary materials. Newly developed course book, specifically are piloted.

Piloters are those persons who involve in piloting process. It means that any person can be a piloter. Teachers specifically are piloters. They are taken from a range of teaching situations. Publisher’s marketing staffs or teaching consultants, basically make contacts with piloters(teachers, institutions and students) and invite them to pilot. Putting it another way, editors will contact a range of suitable potential piloters in relevant institutions through either local representative staffs or central members. While selecting the piloters from those institutions or teaching situations that must have following features;

- willing to pilot

- good performance in previous work

- availability at the right time

- being representative of the target learners

- good teaching situation

While piloting the materials, piloters should consider the following thing; piloting should be clear and coherent, piloters should understand the intention of the materials, there should be clear indication of intended audiences, age, level, teaching time, needs, expected outcomes and so on, piloters should provide clear printed pages, s/he should edit before piloting, s/he should understand the aims and scope of piloting, s/he should have questionnaires for piloting from early stage, piloted materials should be provided in colourful version and so on.

Of course, piloting activity is affected by piloting situation and type of materials. For example, it is easy to arrange piloting of materials for adults in private language schools than full -time education schools. In former situation, piloting can be set up in formally by the direct contact with teachers or directors of studies. But in later one, it is very difficult and sensitive. Likewise, it is also affected by types of materials in the sense that supplementary materials, skill materials need low investment for piloting and it takes short time whereas main course books, grammar books, references materials need high investment and it takes long time for piloting. Similarly, there should be good relationship between piolters and publishers to make piloting process effective.

Piloting is beneficial not only for teachers, students and institution ( piloters ) but also for the publishers, authors and materials themselves. Here, I would like to summarize the different benefits that various persons get form piloting process;

Pilot center













-get confidence that materials work or if they do not work some improvements can be

-themselves get considerable benefit from piloting if they are modified in response to

achievement -financial reward -the provision of sets of



before publication




materials -opportunity to contact with different persons

development -immensely valuable information in different levels





the feedback.













Piloting is a systematic and stepwise procedure based activity. Normally, piloting of materials involves following stages;

a) Making decision about the materials to be piloted

In this stage, piolters have to make decision about materials to be piloted. In other words, we, as piloters try to answer the question: what kind of materials should we pilot? It means that we should select materials to be piloted at this stage.

b) Planning the piloting process

We have to make plan for piloting the selected material at this stage. Basically in this stage, we should answer the three questions; where to pilot? , how to pilot? and when to pilot?

c) Making necessary preparation

In this stage, we have to make advance preparation. It means that we should collect and prepare those things that are essential for piloting. Putting it another way, all resources that are necessary to conduct piloting process should be prepared or collected.

d) Producing samples (materials)

Then, publisher should produce different kind of samples or materials that help piloters to pilot the materials. In other words, samples or supporting materials should be produced at this stage.

e) Making contact with piloters

After making advance preparation and producing samples, piolters should be selected through either local representative staffs or central members themselves based on the different criteria which are given in earlier section. Here, piloters do not only refer to teachers but also students and institutions.

f) Distributing samples to the piloters

In this stage, publishers should distribute samples, supporting materials and questionnaire form to the piloters.

g) Collecting information

Then, piloters have to collect information or feedback from different persons such as students, teachers themselves, principal, other administrative staffs and so on. In order to collect such information, s/he can use various tools such as interview, observation, questionnaire, test and so on.

h) Studying information

Finally, collected information should be studied or analyzed for making decision about effectiveness of the piloted material. This stage gives the strong and weak points of the newly developed material. In this stage, publishers, authors and teachers may also involve in studying the information.

Piloting process will be lost or there will be some problems/ wrong in piloting process, if there is;

_ No clear communication

_ No good relationship or rapport


No mutual support

No trust


_ No good will between publishers and piloters. Similarly, piloting will be lost, if publishers do not get feedback or information from pilot centers.

Yes, piloting is a crucial stage of materials development in the sense that it makes materials more effective. Putting it another way, It helps to produce better material by providing different information at two levels.

a) Macro level

-provides general effectiveness of materials

- provides suitability of overall approach for the target groups

- provides its ability to promote learning

b) Micro level

- provides effective feedback for preparing effective materials

- Publishers will be able information


improve material at the

next step by receiving micro level

Similarly, it provides the answers of following questions that help to make materials effective;

a) Are materials practical and accessible?

b) Can teachers and learners follow what is required of them?

c) Is the material organized into suitable and realistic chunks of lesson, sections, units and so on?

d) Does it fit the number of hours available?

e) Does the materials result are satisfactory and measurable?

f) Does it help in teacher development and learner autonomy? And so on.

Thus, piloting process plays the vital role in making effective materials.


Tomlinson, B.(1997). Materials Development in Language Teaching.(Ed.) Cambridge : CUP.

Fulcher, G & Davidson, F.(2007).Language Testing and Assessment : an Advanced Resourse Book. London: Routledge.