Posted by: crudbasher | July 15, 2013

Online Traffic School, Or, How Not To Do Online Education

I received a speeding ticket a few months ago. In Florida, as in most states, I can take a drivers improvement course in order to avoid points on my license. I took it this weekend and had a few observations.

I was keen to take it online and experience how it works. I found a very popular online course that would fulfill the requirement and signed up. Their website wasn’t the flashiest but it did work. I put in my info and paid a small fee. So far so good. They said the basic course I had to take was 4 hours. This puzzled me at first. How did they know how long it would take? I figured then I had to watch some videos and then answer some questions. That would account for the time.

I was wrong.

Here’s how it actually worked. The course was divided into modules where each of which presented to me several pages of text and pictures (no videos) talking about driving related subjects. It was pretty simple as I have been driving for over half my life so I was able to blow through it. At the end of each module was a set of “sample” questions which I had to answer to demonstrate my competency with a big 40 question test at the end of the course. These were mostly true or false with a few multiple choice questions mixed in. The questions themselves were embarrassingly obvious as to what the right answer was most of the time. The first module took me about 5 minutes to successfully accomplish. 

Here’s where the whole thing ran off the road (pun intended). I pressed the continue button to go to the next module but it wouldn’t let me. Turns out there is a minimum time that has to be spent on each page. This is dictated by state rules. They suggested that if I finish early to go over the material again. The problem is, some of the modules took me 5-10 minutes to finish but often they gave me 45 min to do it! I then sat there for 30 minutes waiting for the timer to expire!

I don’t blame the company, I blame a system that places the most value on the amount of time spent learning, not if you learn. 

So I ask you, how is this any different than the public school system? If a student finishes early, can they move on to the next subject? Nope. In that case, just sit there and be bored.

It’s truly horrendous. One of the biggest advantages of online learning is to be able to progress at your own pace and they deliberately sabotage that. The only way this makes sense is if wasting 4 hours of my time is part of my punishment. Anything I learn is a bonus but it’s not the main purpose of the course.

Lesson learned.

Not my car. (H/T Wikimedia Commons)

Not my car. (H/T Wikimedia Commons)

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Responses

  1. Yes unfortunately the states have lame systems in place that we have to follow… Like you said, the courses aren’t difficult. But the powers that be have more control over us and like telling us what to do :)


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