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Old 04-13-2011, 06:05 PM   #21
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Before I update this thread, is there anyone among the 14,000+ members of this board who has actually completed the AARP online defensive driving course?

I see several of you have done it in person... anyone done it online recently?
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Old 04-16-2011, 12:36 PM   #22
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Does anyone know off hand if we would get a larger discount for taking any DD course in-person instead of on line? I'm 65, DW is 63. State Farm insurance.

Probably not a good idea, but it would be fun to show up for an in-person course in the Corvette with the exhaust open, my helmet on the seat, and numbers on the door. Hmmmm...
Smarter to take the Toyota, I guess.
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Old 04-16-2011, 01:14 PM   #23
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OK, no reportage from other online alumni, so here's my thoughts on the online course: "Don't do it."

I'm two hours into AARP's online course, and if I have to spend another six hours on it for the graduation certificate then I'd rather devote that time to another colonoscopy prep.

This might just be my own learning style. I don't watch much TV or movies and I generally don't have a lot of patience for information dribbled out at a video pace. (Heck, I can barely wait long enough for this discussion board to load without bringing up Windows Solitaire.) I'd rather read the curriculum (at my personal fast speed) or go hands-on.

I've spent so much time in front of a classroom that I find it very difficult to sit in one as a student, especially if I have to watch an instructor's poor teaching mannerisms while I'm trying to learn. However I also know how to sit in the back of the class, keep my mouth shut and my eyes open, and just pass the time with my own thoughts.

You can't do that with the AARP online course. You still have the annoying voice slooooooowly reading the words on your screen to you, perhaps accompanied with background music or (even worse) actual testimony from other drivers. You have to click a "Next" button on every single freakin' screen, which is no more than three sentences. (It won't advance until you click on the button, sometimes more than once.) To add to the torture, the "Next" button doesn't appear until your announcer has finished droning through the material. Even worse, there's a fast-forward button that works on its own mysterious criteria.

What this means is that a screen loads up and the announcer starts to e-nun-ci-ate the words to you. You've already read them in one glance, and you get it, but you have to spend another 10 seconds randomly clicking on the "FF" icon or trying to guess where the "Next" button will appear. Then it doesn't always respond to the first mouse click. Another screen loads with two sentences and the Chinese Water Torture repeats. Every 10 screens or so you get to "participate" in some sort of random "click around the screen" exercise or an opinion poll. Then you discover that you've just finished module 2.1 of 2.8 in section two. Of eight sections. Just gimme the final exam already, and if I fail a section then I'll sit through those screens.

If you log out to take a break (or if your modem/router glitches) then the presentation backs up a few screens to some arbitrary breakpoint before starting again. If you interrupt the presentation by clicking on the menu then the presentation backs up to that starting point again.

The material isn't much better. I appreciated the screens showing what the view would look like with cataracts or glaucoma or macular degeneration, but I don't need 10 screens of information on how to consult my health professional at every single bodily twinge. I don't need to know how to ask my passengers to talk quietly so that I can concentrate on driving and on listening to the environment for sirens or other traffic. I finally gave up on the alleged course when I got to the second screen (of who knows how many) on the proper neck flexibility & stretching exercises to conduct before you get behind the wheel. After, of course, you consult with your health professional to determine if it's OK to attempt these exercises.

You'd think that the action would move more quickly on the "high bandwidth" setting, but that just lets AARP liven things up with video and animations (which take even longer to buffer). After some experimentation I found that the dialup setting actually moves things along a little faster and with less padding. But there's still plenty of frustration.

The experience would be far more tolerable if AARP had just put a mic on a classroom instructor (while they were teaching actual students) and recorded their audio while showing the PowerPoint presentation. "Pause" and "rewind" are far more helpful than "Next".

Did I mention that spouse and I would each have to do our own separate eight-hour sessions? No sitting side-by-side at one screen discussing the options before choosing our answers-- we each have to log in to our own accounts, click our own quota of "Next" buttons, and pay our separate fees.

I paid $19.95 for the hypothetical opportunity to save $40/year for three years. It's so bad that I'm not even going to ask AARP for my money back. I'm hoping to just let my account expire before my personal information comes to the attention of one of their humans.
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Old 04-16-2011, 02:20 PM   #24
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Thanks for the warning Nords.

Some years ago, instead of a safe driving course, I signed up for an EVOC - emergency vehicle operator's course. It was maybe 50 or 60 bucks more, the value -priceless.

The instructor(s) were PA State police types. Lively instruction. Course included lots of vehicle dynamics, some accident forensics, traffic observation, laws and rules for emergency vehicle operation, good bit of police stories, then a driving course mostly slow speed precision maneuvering. Rule 1: Don't get caught steering with one hand on the course. 2 Days, great fun.

Maybe next I'll sign up for a high speed driving course.
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Old 04-17-2011, 10:41 AM   #25
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Sounds like the online course is a pita. It's be more fun to show up in person on the Suzuki C90T.

But track day at Summit Point Motorsports Park would likely be better.
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Old 04-17-2011, 11:14 AM   #26
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DW and I recently completed online course. It took about three hours each. I don't understand the negative comments when the in person course is 8 hours. We received our insurance credit immediately upon presentation of completion certificate number. I recomend this course. It refreshes and reminds of bad habits acquired over many years.
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Old 04-17-2011, 03:14 PM   #27
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I took it four months ago. Texas requires a defensive driving course be a specific length of time (the in-person ones I took were a little over seven hours). I'm trying to remember - I think the pace of the AARP course put me right around seven hours.
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Old 04-17-2011, 04:44 PM   #28
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DW and I recently completed online course. It took about three hours each. I don't understand the negative comments when the in person course is 8 hours. We received our insurance credit immediately upon presentation of completion certificate number.
If the whole online course took you three hours, then I don't understand how it took AARP two hours to get me midway through module two of eight. The elapsed time and the number of modules remaining suggested a trend that I wasn't willing to endure.
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Old 04-18-2011, 06:08 AM   #29
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My spouse and I would sit through a defensive driving class every three years to keep the discount. They usually cost about $30 per person. They would be either all day on a Saturday or split in half over two days during the week.

Since we've taken so many in-person classes, the AARP online course was an excellent change in pace. Yes, we each had to pay for the course, get our own signons, and take the tests. It's the same way as in an in-person class. The nice thing about the online course is we could take it at our own pace in the comfort of our house.

I can see why you're frustrated if you've never taken an in-person defensive driving class before. They can be so boring. At least the AARP class was designed for the "older" driver's perspective and was surprisingly interesting. When the current three-year period ends, we'll definitely take the AARP course again.

I just checked. The Texas requirement for DD is a six-hour course. If Barber took the AARP course, I don't know how it was done in three hours since the course is a paced course.
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Old 04-18-2011, 08:50 AM   #30
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If the whole online course took you three hours, then I don't understand how it took AARP two hours to get me midway through module two of eight. The elapsed time and the number of modules remaining suggested a trend that I wasn't willing to endure.
Methinks "Barber" must actually be an AARP employee, and can safely be ignored.

BTW, Thanks to Nords for the warning about this course. I had been considering it, but there's no way I could put up with that nonsense.
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Old 04-18-2011, 09:23 AM   #31
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Methinks "Barber" must actually be an AARP employee, and can safely be ignored.
It does sound that way, but over the years I'm perpetually surprised by what inspires this board's lurkers to decloak.

This course is just hostile to my learning style. If they gave us the "Next" button right away then I'd probably be a little happier. Or, heaven forbid, give us the PDFs or the PowerPoint slides and let us read through the whole thing. Or, golly, here's an idea, just give us the tests at the start of the class and see how we do. But maybe I need to age another 20-25 years before I'll appreciate the curriculum as much as some of the graduates in the testimonials.

This curriculum issue used to come up a lot at our training commands. Someone would design a course for their favorite subject in a way that made sense to the developer but would only serve to annoy the students (who would then find ways to take it out on the instructor). We'd suggest changes and be told "Oh, the curriculum design standards don't let you do it that way." We'd respond with "Well, if you make the changes, would learning still occur, or are we trying to prevent that?" Usually we ended up ignoring the design standards that weren't working for us, and you usually couldn't see any difference.
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Old 04-18-2011, 10:10 AM   #32
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This curriculum issue used to come up a lot at our training commands. Someone would design a course for their favorite subject in a way that made sense to the developer but would only serve to annoy the students (who would then find ways to take it out on the instructor). We'd suggest changes and be told "Oh, the curriculum design standards don't let you do it that way."
I remember that well. Spent a couple of years as an AFROTC instructor, which began with a one-month (IIRC) course in how to design a course. Totally lockstep all the way, no room for creativity. Like you, we mostly ignored the rules and did what made sense.
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Old 04-19-2011, 06:19 AM   #33
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Call several places in your area that offer the defensive driving class and ask how long the course is to get the insurance certificate.
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Old 04-19-2011, 08:05 AM   #34
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To correct above comment. I am a retired barber with no connection to AARP other than using there auto/home insurance for many years. I DO NOT agree with their political alignment or all of the mailings. DW and I did take the online course as stated and will take it again in three years. I am sorry if we don't ALL agree, but that is what makes forums so lively. Have a good day.
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Old 04-19-2011, 09:42 AM   #35
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Call several places in your area that offer the defensive driving class and ask how long the course is to get the insurance certificate.
The reason I'm going online is because Oahu appears to lack any defensive driving classes, let alone "several"...
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Old 04-19-2011, 09:44 AM   #36
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Slow paced as the AARP program is based on Nords' description, at least you don't have to sit through theresponses to teachers asking "Are there any questions?" every few minutes, which I'm sure they do in the real-life classes.
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Old 04-19-2011, 12:19 PM   #37
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It appears Hawaii has not approved the American Safety Council defensive driving curriculum and that's why you can't find an "in person" course.

I know times may have changed, it used to be you could not get credit for defensive driving unless you lived in a state with an approved curriculum. I believe you said you spoke with a USAA customer service person and they said you were eligible for the discount in Hawaii. If I misunderstood and you did not speak with them, you might want to call first before you expend more energy.
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Old 04-19-2011, 07:49 PM   #38
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I believe you said you spoke with a USAA customer service person and they said you were eligible for the discount in Hawaii. If I misunderstood and you did not speak with them, you might want to call first before you expend more energy.
(and from the first post in this thread)
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USAA affirms that they'll reduce our premiums by nearly $40/year for three years if spouse and I complete AARP's program. We'll presumably get a certificate or some other voucher from AARP which we'll report to USAA. USAA claims they don't even need verification-- just our word that we've passed the course and received the credit.
I think that with only ~1.2 million people in the state (I don't know how many are actually licensed drivers), none of the defensive-driving schools could find enough customers to stay in business.

My daughter and I would've loved a father-daughter racing school here after she got her license, but we can't even keep a racetrack open for business. Of course now that she lives in Houston she's done a lot more high-speed driving than me.
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