Academic journal article International Journal of Instructional Media

Designing a System for Computer-Assisted Instruction in Road Education: A First Evaluation

Academic journal article International Journal of Instructional Media

Designing a System for Computer-Assisted Instruction in Road Education: A First Evaluation

Article excerpt


Traffic accidents are among the main problems affecting the most advanced societies and whose economic and human consequences are enormous. One way to reduce this problem is by carrying out an optimal education program for future drivers in order to equate them with the risks that are involved while driving a vehicle. In Spain a network of private driving schools exists to accomplish this purpose. This driver's education deals with two aspects of driving: Theoretical, which includes knowledge of the legal code, signs, manoeuvres, etc. and practical, that deals with driving a car in real situations. In order to attain a driver's license, applicants must pass two exams, each of dealing with one of these aspects.

Teaching of the theoretical component possesses a specific problem. Since many of the contents which must be explained are based on relatively sophisticated graphics representations, the teachers need to find methods that enable the students to visualize these situations. Instructional tools exist which fulfill this objective, such as transparencies, blackboard, video, photographs, models, and of course, gestures and good intentions. All of these methods offer advantages and disadvantages, but instructors are of the opinion that none of them sufficiently accomplish what is needed in the learning situation.

Our research group has designed (Bayard et al., 1996) tools to allow the simulation driving situations. An adaptation to this teaching situation was considered possible and probably beneficial.

Before designing this tool a study was carried out in order to determine precisely what were the weaknesses of the traditional instructional tools (Garcia-Ros & Valero, 1996). This study consisted of the driving instructors filming their sessions of instruction. These films were subsequently analyzed using tools for observational data analysis (Sanderson & Fisher, 1994). By way of example we will comment on some of the inconveniences that were found using a video to present traffic situations:

(a) it presents a sequence of contents which is found to be too rigid when planning and developing the classroom sessions,

(b) it is difficult to attend to individual differences among students -previous knowledge, attitudes toward traffic and interests,

(c) it offers little flexibility for moving through the tape in order to show the critical moments in each situation,

(d) it presents only one perspective and does not allow modifications in order to view the situation from other vehicles that are involved, and

(e) it does not provide more than one viewpoint at a time (e.g. the view is either from inside the vehicle or a general aerial view).

The system which is presented in this paper attempts to improve upon these limitations, and is directed toward:

(1) the creation, editing and presentation of complex traffic situations that are of didactic interest for teaching the concepts, rules and behaviors which are relevant in road safety education (schools) and driving (driving schools),

(2) to be incorporated into the curriculum and to be used in the daily teaching sessions (Chipman, 1993), and

(3) designed in order to facilitate the selection, organization and development of the classroom sessions in an interactive manner.

Sivas requirements and architecture

The SIVAS system requires a PC compatible personal computer with a Pentium processor. 32 Mbytes of memory are suggested. The basic configuration is augmented with a 3D graphic acceleration card. Presently SIVAS works with WindowsNT 3.51, but it has also been shown to run with Windows95 and WindowsNT 4.0. These operative systems include the execution OpenGL, so only the graphics card drivers have to be added.

The system consists of three modules that allow it to be operated by different types of users in different stages (Bayarri et al. …

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