CTL helps Team Oregon craft online course

Person on motorcycle

Team Oregon has trained more than 190,000 riders in the knowledge and skills necessary for safe and responsible motorcycling. (contributed photo)

LIFE@OSU and the Center for Teaching and Learning are introducing a new semi-monthly series highlighting the stories of successful teaching on campus. Faculty featured in the series have all utilized CTL resources in order to better enhance their classroom experiences. For more information about CTL: http://ctl.oregonstate.edu/

This piece was written by Patrick Hahn, communications manager of Team Oregon Motorcycle Safety Program.

Since 1984, Team Oregon – a statewide outreach program of the College of Public Health and Human Sciences – has trained more than 190,000 riders in the knowledge and skills necessary for safe and responsible motorcycling. Courses combine classroom with on-cycle (“range”) instruction and are conducted all in small groups of 10-12 students. In 2011, completion of a Team Oregon course became required by law for all new riders in Oregon.

Time is limited. Consumers are not willing to spend more than a weekend in training. But there are thousands of skills, tricks and tips that could be included in a beginner motorcycle course. Because motorcycle riding carries a real risk of injury and death, we focus on what riders need to know now – those critical things that will prevent a crash. Even so, students quickly discover there is way more to riding than just learning to work the clutch and shift.

When most people think of motorcycle training, they picture the hands-on skills like steering and turning, braking and swerving. But the most important work we do is in the classroom – teaching scanning, hazard identification, judgment, response, strategy, traction management, impairment. To maximize classroom effectiveness, Team Oregon created a hybrid course with a powerful online classroom called eRider™ – the first one like it in the US. Students now learn to assess risk in a virtual riding environment, spot hazards and make decisions using interactive video and other scenario-based applications. Repetition of key concepts is embedded. And students can try the activities again and again to try to get a better score.

During development and testing, program staff took part in the OSU Center for Teaching and Learning’s Hybrid Faculty Learning Community. Guidance from Cub Kahn and the FLC cohort helped ensure the final product was integrated and streamlined – and did not become a “course and a half.” Classroom time dropped from seven hours to four; test scores remained the same.

The online classroom also eliminates the issue of statewide consistency in delivery. Our 200 instructors do not come from educational backgrounds: They are motorcycle riders with day jobs who want to give something back to the riding community. Having students complete the classroom online frees up instructors for what they enjoy the most – coaching students on the range, watching them learn and sharing the joy when they see the light bulb go on over a student’s head – when they suddenly get it, like this student, who said, “Excellent course! Well worth the time. Everyone I’ve ever spoken to about the course has found it absolutely valuable – even the most hardcore bikers. Glad it’s a requirement in Oregon!”

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