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Driving schools embrace convenience of e-learning

ABU DHABI // UAE driving schools are switching in increasing numbers to e-learning to help drivers be safe and responsible on the road.

Waleed Mamoun Afanah is among those who have benefited from the online learning.

Instead of sitting through long classroom lectures on driver attitude and responsibilities and figuring out what each traffic sign, road marking and traffic control device at intersections signifies, the 27-year-old Jordanian simply used his laptop to access the audio-video material from the comfort of his Barsha Heights office.

This month, Emirates Driving Institute (EDI) in Dubai launched the online service for light motor vehicle licence candidates. Students can register at www.edi-uae.com. Each lecture is divided into five to six segments and lasts an hour. After each video, a student must attempt to answer a short quiz consisting of four questions before moving on to the next segment.

“I signed up for the theory, classroom-based lectures last September but I just didn’t have time,” said Mr Afanah, a Dubai resident who has held a Saudi driving licence for 10 years.

“The great thing about it is the flexibility it offers. It was easy for me to stay focused as there were no distractions in my office.”

Since Mr Afanah has a valid GCC driving licence, he was required to take only two instead of eight mandatory lectures.

“The first lecture focuses on how to be a good driver, that no matter how stressful or terrible your day is you have to learn how to control your emotions,” said the marketing manager. “The second lecture helps us understand the concept of traffic signs and signals and obeying the traffic rules.”

At present, the e-learning material is available in English only and covers two lectures. Other languages will soon be introduced, according to a member of EDI’s technical team.

The benefits of e-learning are similar to other online service provisions, such as financial savings through reduced travel needs or reduced environmental impact, said Dr Britta Lang, the UAE country director for UK consultancy Transport Research Laboratory.

“E-learning enables self-paced learning, allows repeated viewing of content and provides consistent materials so all users are guaranteed to receive the same content,” she said.

Wasim Abbas, 29, also signed up for the two e-lectures at EDI.

The Pakistani accountant said the facility allowed him to work at his own pace, in his own time and free from distractions.

“The videos and quizzes were quite helpful,” he said. “Being a safe and responsible driver means caring about the safety of others on the road.”

EDI will continue to offer classroom-based lectures in many languages at its three training and testing centres. At the moment, it conducts more than 100 lectures a day. Each lasts an hour.

Mr Abbas, who is required to take six more lectures at the centre, looks forward to interacting with his instructor.

“I’ll get to hear the questions I may not have thought to ask on my own,” he said.

Belhasa Driving Centre, which offers lecture classes at its training centres in Al Quoz, Al Wasl, Jebel Ali and Nad Al Hamar, plans to offer an e-learning service.

“We are coordinating with a company to make the videos,” said its marketing manager ­Bilal Ahmed. “We are discussing how to go about it.”

Dr Lang said poorly designed e-learning could overload students with a mix of animation, sounds, text and videos and understimulate those learning.

“It is imperative that e-learning is well designed and that organisations invest the time and money to ensure that the e-learning is optimal.”

Emirates Driving Company in Abu Dhabi also plans to go digital.

“Digitalisation is a priority,” said its chief executive, Khaled Al Mansoori.

“Our e-learning project, which is under process, will give us the flexibility to offer all courses in every available language at any time, and allow a more extensive use of audio and visual material.”

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The National