When the pandemic took hold it grabbed every facet of life and shook it up, sadly with often devastating consequences.
However, out of the gloom came glimmers of hope, and for drivers who'd been subject to stereotypical attitutes rooted in the past for a very long time there was a much needed boost, as the media dedicated space to help viewers and readers understand the importance of truck and bus drivers and consumers and businesses quickly recognised the vital work that drivers do to keep life ticking over.
In terms of driver training, national and regional lockdowns across Europe forced authorities and government departments to rethink their approach to mandatory training.
Widespread refusal to acknowledge or accept eLearning as an alternative to classroom training could no longer be sustained when faced with an unprecedented situation which threatened the very concept of periodic training and CPD, and so a number of relaxations were introduced to help ensure that drivers got the development they needed for their career.
However, not all countries were so responsive. The main barrier to allowing flexibility seemed to be the issue of evaluation, particularly with regard to the trainer, the objectives and the outcomes. The fear was that a lack of face to face engagement in a classroom setting could, in theory, lead to an abuse of the system, and yet many providers reported a positive response from delegates, so much so that eLearning is now a regular method of training delivery because many relaxations remain in place.
But there's a tipping point on the horizon. As the pandemic loosens its grip and we all start to live with Covid, the temporary relaxations will begin to end and the classroom will likely become the default environment for drivers once again. Although the classroom's useful for delivering numerous topics in a secure environment it creates a confined situation where trainers are only able to use a limited number of tools and methodologies.
Surely now is the time to look at the options available for driver CPD and to consider how the virtual classroom can be the model of the future...
This month a new project begins that will investigate learning for drivers in order to strengthen the gamified, digital options available to vocational education training (VET) personnel working in professional driver training. In effect, to make the case for a virtual classroom.
GamingDRV, co-financed by the Erasmus+ programme, is a 3-year project implemented by partners from 5 European countries to address the issue of recognition and to help avoid a further increase in the deficit of skilled professional drivers. Gamification represents a real opportunity for learners in professional driver CPC (especially for those who've been neglected in education and training) by improving the quality and effectiveness of the training and raising the motivation of drivers to learn.
In addition to improving the quality, accessibility and recognition of virtual training for learners, GamingDRV will develop methodology and tools that support VET personnel and trainers to apply innovative and integrated gamified training methods in a virtual classroom setting.
The project team will develop the virtual classroom concept and curriculum for driver CPC training, produce Gamified Learning Elements (GLE) often referred to as microlearning, create “GameTrain” (a train-the-trainer module) to enable trainers to plan, organise, implement and evaluate innovative, inclusive, gamified virtual classroom-based training and develop an online pool of resources targeted at trainers, providing them with high-quality, relevant, affordable, GDPR-compatible tools, methods, instructions and resources for gamified virtual classroom-based training.
Importantly, there'll be guidelines for the use of all project results in and beyond the sector, including the sustainable exploitation of the project and the integration of the approach to virtual learning within regulatory frameworks, highlighting the barriers that exist within today's legislation.
Our hope is that we can demonstrate the possibilities for future driver learning and encourage authorities and government departments to make the relevant legislation and framework more flexible for the sake of the industry.
For more information or to register your interest in the project please contact me at email@example.com