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May 2015

Oregon creates online classroom for its motorcycle safety program

In 2014, TEAM OREGON, a cooperative partnership between the Oregon Department of Transportation and Oregon State University, field-tested an online classroom for its mandatory and state-approved TEAM OREGON Motorcycle Safety Program. Called eRider™, this new online program is full of real-world riding scenarios, interactive videos and other learning tools to teach basic (beginner) and intermediate (some experience/returning) riders what they need to know in order to safely ride a motorcycle.

“Our objective was to create a new classroom that meets or exceeds the standards set by the old one,” says Patrick Hahn, communications and outreach manager for the TEAM OREGON Motorcycle Safety Program. “We started from scratch and created something unlike anything we’ve done before.”

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The eRider™ online program features more than 100 different riding scenarios.

From the ground up

When developing eRider, TEAM OREGON looked to the 168 standards in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Model National Standards for Entry-Level Rider Training to inform the program’s content. TEAM OREGON also used crash data from the state to identify eight areas of importance, which are heavily emphasized throughout the course: riding skills, riding strategies, scanning, risk awareness, judgment, impairments, riding gear and group riding.

“The biggest shift in thinking we made with this new education program is that we are more explicit about how driving a motorcycle is different than driving a car,” Hahn says. “People come into the program as car drivers who already know the rules of the road and think that riding a motorcycle is just like driving a car—but it’s not. We teach them to think like a motorcyclist and explain the ways in which it’s different than driving a car.”

There are more than 100 different riding scenarios embedded in the eRider program.

According to Hahn, about 70 percent of those are 8–12-second video clips of riding scenarios, and students must answer questions about the scenes after watching. “For example, we may ask students to identify the most important hazard they see in the frame,” he says. “Or we hit them with questions such as ‘What lane position should you choose in this situation?’ or ‘What is your escape route?’”

The new eRider™ program allows students to complete classroom training online, but hands-on training must be completed in person.


Measuring success

Results from the early stages of the field test revealed that the online students were achieving lower test scores and passing the written exam at a lower rate than those who took the traditional curriculum. So TEAM OREGON looked at the questions the eRider students were missing more frequently, and six questions stood out. “We went back in to modify the [eRider] curriculum to have more of a focus on those six topics, one of which was maximum braking,” Hahn says. “We emphasized the topics with additional interactivity, and review questions to reinforce the concepts and content.” With these modifications, both sets of students are now equally likely to pass the exam.

Additionally, throughout the duration of the field test, both eRider and traditional classroom students were asked to complete two surveys—one pre-course and one post-course—to rate their knowledge before and after the course (see graph below). When comparing surveys between eRider students and classroom students, online students reported greater increases in knowledge and greater post-course knowledge than students in the traditional classroom. Hahn notes that now he is looking to incorporate the interactive videos used in the eRider program into the instructor-led classroom.

Upon approval by the Oregon DOT (anticipated later this spring), eRider will be offered as an online classroom option for Oregon’s basic and intermediate rider training courses; however, students will still be required to complete the hands-on training in person.