Digital transformation hits the road

Published on the 21/09/2017 | Written by Jonathan Cotton

PrepL eLearning program

Learners don’t need pens, paper and multiple choice options. Drive time starts with a screen…

Queensland’s young drivers will be the first in the world to trial a new interactive online driver test.

Developed in collaboration with the Department of Transport and Brisbane-based tech company Croomo, the PrepL eLearning program is being trialled across Queensland.

Launched Monday, the three month pilot will be rolled out for six high schools and 300 students across Queensland. From there it will move straight into live production and an audience of between 80,000 and 100,000 Queensland learner-drivers.

The program takes between four and six hours to complete and can be done on any smartphone, tablet or computer – in other words, the devices which the learners were likely born with.

“The PrepL solution is a lot better than the current paper-based one,” Croomo Chief Growth Officer Daniel Bermingham told iStart, “which, if we’re honest, isn’t that hard to beat – it’s been around for 40 years.”

Using the program students have to answer more than 380 separate questions, challenges and activities (as opposed to the 30 multichoice questions included on the current paper-based test). The program uses game mechanics and 3D in-car scenes and scenarios to put users figuratively ‘in the driver’s seat’, teaching and testing in – what is hoped – a more engaging way than traditional paper-based tests.

The program has been in development since October 2015.

“The call came from the Queensland government,” said Bermingham. “They knew a solution was out there but they didn’t know how to do it.”

Croomo conducted significant amounts of research during the design phase, testing assumptions and gaining as much insight as possible early on.

“We created detailed profiles and personas, building up exactly who we needed to talk to and testing directly to them,” he said.

Some of those results of that early testing were surprising, with the group finding that first draft, more graphic concepts weren’t being taken as seriously by young audiences.

“The feedback from those early tests was that anything that was too gore-related or was too graphic, desensitized the audience. Because it reminded them of computer games, they actually found it amusing.”

“That was a really good lesson for us”.

Other research showed that accidents among those at highest risk – people under the age of 25 – exhibited certain patterns.

“90 percent of the incidents happen to this under-25 age group. We drilled down into those statistics and we found there were a fatal five areas at play – distraction, speeding, fatigue, seat belts and impaired driving”.

Those insights were then used to inform the content of the app.

18 months and 15,000 man hours later, the group has produced a program that uses neuroscience, psychology and technology in a way that – it hopes – changes attitudes and behavior.

Bermingham said he was delighted to find that the Queensland government was so ready to embrace new technology and work with industry in a collaborative way.

“I’ll be totally honest – it was actually a really good collaborative process,” he said. “All the workshops, all the processes and all the design thinking that was led by us was embraced by government. They really, really worked well with us. They’ve taken our lead, our professional advice and run with it which is really refreshing.”

“Utilising traditional business to tap into innovation using technology and smart thinking companies – there is definitely an appetite in government for that right now. There are a lot of eyes on this product and a lot of focus on getting this rolled out successfully.”

“Government is just really open to these kinds of solutions at the moment.”

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