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Learners Using Computer Simulators to Learn to Drive

As a part of the NSW Governments push to improve road safety and the skills of beginning drivers, there are two components to Learners gaining their licence.

 The Driving Test

As part of a range of new road safety initiatives to make our drivers and roads safer, a tougher driving test  was introduced in 2007.

The test focuses on hazard perception and has been designed for learners with extensive driving experience.

Before you take the test, we recommend you read A guide to the Driving Test. It outlines what you need to know and be able to do to pass the Driving Test. You can download the guide from the box at the bottom of this page, or pick up a copy from any motor registry. 

The on-road Driving Test assesses your driving skills, decision-making, awareness of other road users, and how you share the road with other traffic. If you pass this test, you progress from a learner licence to a provisional P1 licence. 

To be eligible to take this test you must:

  Be at least 17 years of age and if under 25 you must have held a learner licence for at least 12 months.

  Have completed at least 120 hours of log book driving practice including 20 hours of night driving.

When you’re ready to take your driving test you’ll need to make a booking and pay a test fee. You can book the test online at myTests (use related link above right), by calling 13 22 13 or at any motor registry.

Applicants that are unsuccessful in passing the driving test must wait a minimum of seven days before reattempting the test.

Part 1 (Knowledge Test)

The Driver Qualification Test (DQT) is one test made up of two parts:

Part 1 tests advanced safe driving knowledge (the Knowledge Test)

Part 2 tests advanced hazard perception skills (the Advanced Hazard Perception Test)

Part 1 of the DQT is similar to the Driver Knowledge Test (DKT), except:

  The questions are harder/more complex

  The questions have 4 alternative answer options (instead of 3)

  No feedback is given after each question

You will be asked 15 multiple choice questions selected at random from a large question pool.


Below is an example of computer simulated test, aimed for Learners to practise their skills…

Build your hazard perception skills

This section of the Driver Qualification Test website lets you practise many of the skills you need to pass the Hazard Perception section of the test and stay alive. The five interactive Flash TM modules below are not examples of the actual hazard perception items. Unlike the hazard perception items which show real traffic situations, the five modules are graphical animations demonstrating the main concepts of hazard perception, including safe following distance, safe gaps and scanning for hazards.

Scanning for Hazards 

Where you will build your ability to cope with unexpected events.

How close is safe? 

Where you will learn safe following distances

Picking safe gaps 

Where you will learn to safely judge safe gaps when crossing a stream of traffic from your right

Picking safe gaps II 

Where you will learn to safely judge safe gaps when turning right at a set of traffic lights

When is it safe to overtake? 

 Where you will learn to safely judge safe gaps when overtaking a stationary vehicle in front of you

The NSW Government have also released an application for use on an iPhone which allows Learners to practice their skills on their phones for convinience.

This website shows examples of driving simulations that are available for purchase. They are a lot like a computer game, but instead the driver is actually situated in a real car. Imagine the possibility for Learner drivers!


Ban computers from schools until children reach age 9, says expert

This article argues that children should be banned from using computers in schools until they are nine-years-old because the early use of technology is destroying their attention spans.

By Julie Henry, Education Correspondent Published: 7:00AM BST 13 Jun 2010

“The controversial Early Years Foundation Stage, which sets dozens of learning goals for children from their first year to the age of five, says that computers should be introduced from 22 months. The premature introduction and overuse of technology is damaging young children whose brains are not yet fully formed, according to Dr Aric Sigman, a psychologist and author. As a result, the “nappy curriculum” – the statutory rules introduced in 2008 which dictate that toddlers should be introduced to computers as early as 22 months of age – is “subverting the development of children’s cognitive skills”. Speaking to a conference of childcare specialists yesterday, the academic said children needed to use the three dimensional, real world to learn. “There is evidence to show that introducing information and communication technology (ICT) in the early years actually subverts the very skills that Government ministers said they want children to develop, such as the ability to pay attention for sustained periods,” said Mr Sigman. “There is a conflict between multitasking and sustained attention. These things cannot and should not be developed at the same time. Sustained attention must be the building block. “The big problems we are seeing now with children who do not read, or who find it difficult to pay attention to the teacher, or to communicate, are down to attention damage that we are finding in all age groups.” The controversial Early Years Foundation Stage, which sets dozens of learning goals for children from their first year to the age of five, says that computers should be introduced from 22 months and that from 40 months children should be able to “perform simple ICT functions, such as select a channel on the TV remote control and use a mouse and keyboard to use age-appropriate software”. Primary schoolchildren have at least one ICT lesson a week and computer use is widespread in other subjects. Research evidence on the effect of ICT on children’s learning, social development and health is mixed but the debate is becoming increasingly polarised. In the US a number of studies show that age-appropriate software can bring benefits in areas like language development. Other research suggests that prolonged television and computer viewing stunts brain development. Mr Sigman said that while screen technology can be an important tool in learning, it should feature in schools much later than it does at the moment. “It must be introduced and used judiciously at much later ages – ideally at least age nine – or it can subvert the development of the cognitive skills and curiosity it was intended to foster and enhance,” said the author of Remotely Controlled: How Television is Damaging Our Lives. “We risk infantilising the child’s mind by spoon-feeding it with strong audio-visual sensations.” The psychologist dismissed arguments used by some academics and the education technology industry to justify exposing very young children to computer use. “The rationale behind it is that children are interested in these things and that it is the world that children are growing up in. Therefore we must have them getting to grips with it at 22 months,” he said. “Children might be interested in alcohol, hand guns and pornography – that doesn’t mean we should give them access to these things. “Just because children are interested in something, it does not mean by any stretch of the imagination, that it is in their interests to expose them to these things. “Children may well be good at using technology but monkeys can learn to use new technology, it is not necessarily something to strive for in itself.” The Qualifications and Curriculum Development Authority is responsible for advising and assessing schools on the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). However the quango is set to be abolished. The coalition government is reviewing which of its functions should be passed on to the Department for Education. Before the election, the Liberal Democrats said they would scrap the nappy curriculum. Nick Gibb, the Conservative schools minister has described it as a “bureaucratic nightmare”. A Department for Education spokesman said: “No decision has been made yet on the future of the EYFS. Ministers are looking carefully at how best to strengthen the early years framework. “We’re clear about the need to cut bureaucracy to free-up front line professionals in supporting young children’s development.”

Is the way in which education is heading – to ubiquitous learning – positive? Or are we causing issues for children in the future that we don’t know about yet? Or are these kind of ‘findings’ simply scare tactics from people who are worried about the possibilities of technology?


Differentiated Instruction

“Not all students are alike. Based on this knowledge, differentiated instruction applies an approach to teaching and learning that gives students multiple options for taking in information and making sense of ideas. Differentiated instruction is a teaching theory based on the premise that instructional approaches should vary and be adapted in relation to individual and diverse students in classrooms (Tomlinson, 2001).

The model of differentiated instruction requires teachers to be flexible in their approach to teaching and adjust the curriculum and presentation of information to learners rather than expecting students to modify themselves for the curriculum. Many teachers and teacher educators have recently identified differentiated instruction as a method of helping more students in diverse classroom settings experience success.”

I enjoyed the discussion about Christian and Glenn’s posts around Multiple Intelligences (MI). The discussion was around whether Multiple Intelligences should be used to; just test learner strengths, to differentiate curriculum to suit the strengths of individual students or to extend the skills of learners in weaker areas. I believe the theory of MI should be used for all three. Although it is obvious that students have different strengths and different learning styles, they should be extended to build their skills in the areas which they may not be naturally talented in.

There are numerous ways in which a teacher can differentiate the curriculum to ensure that students are able to engage and connect with the learning. The discussions this week shed some interesting light on different strategies to use in the classroom.


Learner Differences

Learner differences, as described by Kalantzis and Cope fall under three headings:


Class: social resource access, employment and social status

Locale: neighborhoods and regions with differential social resources

Family: relationships of domesticity and cohabitation


Age: child development, life phases and peer dynamics

Race: historical and social constructions linked to phenotypical differences

Sex and Sexuality: the bodily realities of masculinity, femininity and varied


Physical and Mental Abilities: spectrums of bodily and cognitive capability


Language: first and second language learners, dialect and social language

Ethnos: national, ethnic, indigenous and diasporic identities

Gendre: identities based on gender and sexual orientation (Kalantzis and Cope


My post this week, focused on AGE. Age is an interesting concept. As we get chronologically older, we are simultaneously developing socially, mentally and physically at different rates. Most mainstream schools group students into what we call classes to suit chronological age. So, for example, within a certain class of students, there could be a 12 year old, who is going through puberty and is mentally advanced for their age and another 12 year old whose thinking and reading skills are the same level as an 8 year old. Although chronologically they are the same age, their developmental levels are vastly different. Composite classes are quite common in Canberra schools. These composite classes, for example a mixture of year 6 and year 5 students has even more range in student age. Schools traditionally ‘pigeon hole’ students into year levels and teach to the ‘age’ because it makes administrative side of things easy and legally, most students finish school at the correct age. Are we doing students an injustice to group them based on chronological age? Should we be more flexible with cross age classes/learning?

As students enter the workplace they inevitably begin working with colleagues of different ages and experience. Sometimes this can be a challenge if these students who are now employees have not been exposed to working with different aged people.

This and the next generation of students are definitely known as the social beings. Technology has made them instantly and consistently accessible to a network of friends. These friends are of different ages, often attend other schools, some of these friends they have not even physically met. Perhaps educators should be looking at online and distance education more flexibly to align with the new generation of students?


Mentoring the Learning Element Process


2009 I found myself in my first year as Executive Teacher in the Arts and Technology Area. Early in the year, we identified as a staff that the curriculum ‘ideas’ and ‘things that were being taught’ were already good. We had expert teachers mentoring both beginning teachers as well as teachers teaching new subject areas without formal training in the specific areas. The problem was, each semester/term the great pedagogy and curriculum sometimes went undocumented, was sometimes packed away and other times forgotten. To combat this issue and in order to support other teachers, as well to ensure accountability we decided to target the curriculum. This meant new Learning Elements needed to be written.

An opportunity to participate in an action research arose for the teachers in our cluster of schools – the Access Asia project. I suggested to one of my teachers to volunteer, which she did. She was in her forth year of teaching and this was her first opportunity to engage with the Learning by Design framework. It was also one of my first opportunities to mentor a teacher through the process of understanding and working with the knowledge processes.


Mentoring the teacher was challenging (in a positive way) and as she explored how to write a Learning Element, I deepened my understanding of LbD. We began with a brainstorm of ideas and refined these on a Placemat. The process of recording ideas on the placemat required a large amount of energy and time – however, because the time and energy was spent here (discussing each knowledge process and the links between each to achieve deep knowledge and understanding to gain learner transformation) this actually made the documentation of the Learning Element easier.  


Knowledge processes to the virgin LbD’er can seem daunting. Until the realisation that analysing, conceptualising, applying and experiencing all rolled in to one neatly presented document = quality learning. The key – as I explained to my teacher is ‘designed learning’ – ensuring that each activity, each order and each concept is planed in a manner that will produce learner transformation and improvement. (Sounds so easy!)

The fun part was picking apart activities – re designing and discussing their worth and purpose. As the teacher travelled through this journey she gained a confidence that allowed her to become more creative and confident.

Her Learning Element, Japanese Textiles was a great first Learning Element. It was used at a National Conference to highlight learner transformation and as an example of quality curriculum.

Evaluation of the unit, both ongoing and summative encouraged the teacher to renew and redesign the learning based on student engagement. This year, this teacher is going to be a part of the 2010 Access Asia project, mentoring a beginning teacher to write a Learning Element.

Learning by Design has surely started to spread in our staffroom and teachers are sharing their Learning Elements with each other. The feedback has been positive and the support enhanced.



This week’s topic made me immediately think of my elder brother – a complete gaming freak! His love of the computer game started with ‘Space Invaders’ and ‘Pac Man’ in the 1980s. His obsession led to exploration of other games and progressed with the technology. It used to concern my parents – the amount of time he spent in his room playing games, rather than studying.

When he explains the online ‘shoot to kill’ games, he sounds as if he is speaking about real life. He loves the thrill, the adrenalin and the comradery he has with his online mates. Knowing how to win these games and navigate through the multi-layers is harder than it looks. There is literacy and language involved in the process. If only my parents had known that he was learning!

Gee (2003) highlights many ways in which computer games can help language learning. One issue that disallows people to notice this, is the premise that computer games are only used for enjoyment and are only for fun’s sake. Seeing as though our students live in an online, digital, multimodal world, we need to adapt to and accommodate this within our teaching and their learning. If games can be used for literacy learning – multimodal literacy – we should encourage (and monitor) their use.

Breaking down stereotypes around gaming is also something that teachers of the Y generation need to work for. If they are unaware of the technology, they need to familiarise themselves, look for the learning that could take place and decide whether it can be used in order to develop literacy and/or social skills. I discussed in my Wiki post that the benefits games can have on learning other languages should be explored. Interactive, virtual games can provide excellent opportunities for students to learn different languages in an interactive and connected manner.

I enjoyed this week’s readings and Wiki posts.


Knowledge Repertoires

This week’s discussion around Knowledge Repertoires got me thinking about the difference between true new learning and pedagogy that looks like new learning, but is actually not quite there yet. There were different examples in the Wiki posts that touched on elements of New Learning. For example, they had elements of students as active knowledge makers, based on the amount of work they were doing (Kalantzis and Cope), but may not have had social cognition and collaborative learning taking place.


I spoke about Universal Design for Learning in my Wiki post, which was aimed at helping all students learn, regardless of ability or disability. It had many principles that underlined its use. However, looking at the principles, I realised that they were really only guidelines for learning, not pedagogy.


After completing my learning element last week, I reflected on the Learning by Design framework. It allows teachers to design curriculum that is meaningful and has complete and well structured pedagogy. 


The move for me now, is to incorporate more technology in to my learning element. When I taught the learning element, I did use Wikis and Blogs, but forgot to type them into CG Learner. There is a lot of social learning and collaboration, which is where I think education needs to be for our students to be successful in the future.


Along the CG Journey

I guess like with most things, the more I use CG Learner, the more I feel comfortable with it. There are teachers in my staffroom who are not doing the course who have begun using CG Learner. I think the best thing about it, is that it is accessible from any computer. There is no need to save the work onto a USB and transport it, with the risk of saving too many copies. It is available online and other collaborators are able to access it, add to it and so on.


The discussion we had around whether to keep the student side or not was interesting, I believe writing of the students side, does allow you to think about how exactly you will explain or introduce the activity to the students. But for experienced educators, I think it would be less time consuming to write the teacher side only. As Bill mentioned, do we just expect that students are able to understand the teacher talk and therefore only write that one? I agree with this idea, as we don’t often show students the learning element anyway. Or should we be doing this?

 Overall, I believe CG Learner is an excellent resource. It is accessible, easy to use and easy to share.


Committed Knowledge and Knowledge Relativism

I found the discussions on Committed Knowledge and Knowledge Relativism extremely interesting. I attended a Catholic school and was taught each subject in primary school, based on the Committed Knowledge model. Our teachers held the knowledge and we learnt from them. The facts were the facts and that was that. Religion was not questioned, it was taught to us and we followed the rules of it. In saying this, I don’t believe it was all bad. I believe I learnt good values from primary school and ways of living and treating people which I live by now.


What changed for me was in high school when of course, we learnt Darwin’s theory of evolution in our science course. We were allowed to compare the seven day theory with the Darwin theory and make our own informed decisions. The highlight for me was in my senior year when my religion teacher asked us to take an element/rule of the Catholic Church and discuss whether or not it was relevant to today’s society. I think that was when the shift from Committed Knowledge to Knowledge Relativism was taking place – at least in my education. ‘Scepticism and cation about whether any one way of making knowledge can produce ‘truth’’ (Kalantzis and Cope) was evident.


My wiki post this week was about Critical Literacy. As I mentioned, it was born out of postmodernism and cultural relativism. The ideas that “…different points of view might be represented, without insisting on the correctness of any one point pf view, explicitly or implicitly”  and “…(some texts) have a habit of leaving out the knowledge and perspectives of those who are not powerful”(Kalanzis and Cope), prompted the need for a critical literacy. Critical Literacy allows students to think about their truths and experiences and think objectively about a text.


Without making the move from Committed Knowledge to Knowledge Relativism and the realisation that life experience and scepticism are important, it would be difficult to move to New Learning.


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