YouTube serves over one billion learning-related videos every day, and people are becoming more and more comfortable with watching how to do something then applying what they’ve seen in a practical scenario, rather than reading manuals or even attending instructor-led classroom courses.
The theory and techniques for driving can easily be learned and refined using an app for your smartphone or tablet, or using online courses. This ranges from learning to drive a car or motorbike through to specific courses such as a truck loader crane course, and simulators for driving and operating machinery.
In fact, there are hundreds of related apps in the app stores, plus courses available through websites from driver training organisations.
Learner drivers will be focused on road rules and familiarisation with the complexities of driving.
Experienced drivers can expand on these skills by learning about driving dynamics, driving in bad weather conditions, low-speed manoeuvring, driver health and safety, driver compliance and different types of vehicles.
Heavy vehicle drivers have much more to learn than car and motorbike drivers and, in some countries, continuing professional education for drivers is mandatory.
The learning experience will be driven by a learning management system, or LMS. If you are a trainee doing the course, this should provide you with an easy-to-use interface that presents your learning path in a way that is simple to follow.
If you are a manager managing one or more drivers, the LMS should be able to display driver progress through the course and break out statistics relating to areas of learning that drivers might need to address.
Driving has traditionally been taught one-to-one in the vehicle (typically verbally instructing the driver as they operate the vehicle, but it could be with the aid of diagrams to explain specific concepts), or one-to-many in a classroom (typically verbally plus a PowerPoint or videos), followed by practical instruction or assessment using the vehicle. Online learning is simply an alternative delivery method for the instructor imparting the theoretical knowledge, but the driver is then left to apply that knowledge themselves.
Learning via an app has some advantages. It enables the driver to learn at their own pace at a time and location that’s suitable for them. They can review the course materials over and over until they are comfortable that they have learned the material. They can often translate portions of the learning into other languages. There is no instructor bias and the course is delivered the same way every time. Video can show scenarios that are difficult to create in real life, especially if animation is used. For theory tests, an app can mimic the requirements of the final test, leading a new driver to feel comfortable that they have prepared adequately for it. Self-starters can make progress quickly without being held back by the collective ability of a classroom of students.
There are some disadvantages with learning to drive using an app, though. Some students are not computer literate or favour learning being hands-on. There may not be the opportunity for discussion about the course amongst other trainees. Students may not be abe to afford enough data to stream large amounts of video. On a smartphone, detail within a video can be lost. New drivers may gain unfounded confidence before they really have the real-world experience to deal with developing hazards.
For supervisors and trainers using an LMS, a big advantage is transparency of information. Rather than a trainee driver disappearing off to a course where the supervisor doesn’t know what’s being taught, the supervisor is fully aware of all the learning materials and can view in minute detail how a driver has fared with answering questions.
So, how should a driver address their learning using the app? People generally learn best by doing.Therefore, someone who simply looks at videos without actively trying to apply the knowledge will forget what they have learned relatively quickly.
Another way of retaining knowledge that can’t necessarily be practiced immediately is to pass the knowledge on, e.g. by explaining it to someone else.
Apps are here to stay for all kinds of learning. The pace of development in learning methods will be dictated by the functionality offered by learning management systems and video streaming services. Adoption of newer technologies such as augmented reality will, in part, be tied to the ability to monetise it. For now, the most common methods are questionnaires and videos as these are able to be universally used across multiple platforms.