Recently, I have been creating online drivers education reviews for courses in Texas. This is my Driver’s Education 101 review where I will go over my impressions of the course, so that you can make an educated decision on whether to sign up or not.
Driver’s Education 101 is one of the 18 online driver’s education providers approved by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). Their parent-taught driver education (PTDE) course is available for teens between the ages of 14 and 17. As per the State of Texas, the course and the driving requirements must be completed before your child’s 18th birthday.
Driver’s Education 101 is based in Houston. According to Easy Counter, Driver’s Education 101’s website address was created in July of 2012, making them a relative newcomer to the online driver’s ed scene, and they get about 100 visitors a day. The private nature of the domain registration precludes us from learning who’s behind the company, and we were unable to locate any information whatsoever about the company elsewhere online.
Overall Course Structure
After signing up for the online drivers ed course, the student and instructor must first read the course instructions at the top of the course. After they read the course instructions, then the first lesson will be automatically unlocked. The online lessons are designed to be viewed on desktops, laptops, or tablets with Flash support enabled. (iPad users are encouraged to use a Flash browser, such as Photon Flash Player.) Adobe Reader is required in order to view the in-car activities.
When viewing the lessons, the instructor should discuss the material with the student, answer any questions the student has, quiz the student about the material, share any stories that are related to the course material, and just generally be there to support and make sure the student understands the curriculum.
There are a total of 200 practice questions throughout the course. There is a 5-10 question test after each online lesson. The tests are automatically graded by the system. Students must pass each test with a 70% or higher in order to unlock the next lesson. This ensures that they know the material and are capable of moving on throughout the course. Students can review any previously completed lesson at any time. They can also retake any quiz an unlimited number of times to try to get a better score. The system will keep the highest score that a student attains.
There are no timers on this course that will lock the student out after a certain amount or time or force the student to stay on a specific page for a set number of minutes. The required amount of time to spend on each lesson is given at the beginning of each lesson. It is up to students and their instructors to make sure they spend the required amount of time on each lesson.
It is a lengthy course, but the key is to take it one step at a time, and then move on to the next step. It is not designed to be done overnight. There are instructions for applying for the Texas Learner License and Provisional License when the student has met those qualifications.
All certificates are now provided in digital format (PDF). A link to each certificate is e-mailed and also made available from the Certificates page within the student’s account. After the requirements are met and a student or instructor requests a certificate, the request will be reviewed to make sure everything is in order. If not, the instructor will be informed on what needs to be done. If the student meets all the requirements, then the certificate will be prepared and made available shortly thereafter.”
Driver’s Education 101 Course Pricing
The course fee includes everything your child needs to meet the requirements for obtaining a Texas driver’s license except for two things: the $20 PTDE packet that’s required by the TDLR and which you must have in hand before your child starts the course, and the $16 fee for obtaining a learner’s license.Driver’s Education 101’s PTDE course fee is $97, which is a couple bucks less than what seems to be a more or less standard price of $99 to $150. A few courses cost less, and a handful cost considerably more, so $97 is a reasonable price for this course. You can pay via PayPal, debit card, or credit card.
Unlike some courses, which expire after a certain number of months, this course never expires, so you can access it even years later if you want to brush up on your driving skills. However, as per Texas law, the coursework and driving portion have to be completed before your child’s 18th birthday. If it’s not, you’ll need to sign Junior up for the adult driver’s ed course.
Features of Driver’s Education 101’s PTDE Course
Prior to signing up, Driver’s Education 101’s website is sorely lacking in information about this course, including whether the course is available on mobile devices, and it only explains in the tiny FAQ section that you have to order and receive your PTDE packet from the TDLR before starting the course.
The contact page provides a phone number and a link to send an email, but it doesn’t mention the hours customer support is available. By contrast, many other online drivers education programs offer 24/7/365 customer support options.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the features that are listed on their website and how I thought it stacked up during my review of the course…
Easy-to-understand online slides with audio narration, custom diagrams, and professional photos – The slides look and function very similar to basic PowerPoint slides. The audio narration is TERRIBLE! It is not a human voice, rather, a computerized voice. While it is easy to understand, it did very little to keep my interest and attention. A real human voice would be much better, as many other courses I’ve reviewed have had. The custom diagrams get the job done and the professional photos are nice, but they mostly seem to be stock images and not images created specifically for the course or to improve learning comprehension.
3D driving videos from the perspective of the driver’s seat demonstrate common driving situations – While some people may find these videos helpful, I found them to be very low budget video animations. For example, there is one section that teaches students how to properly turn the steering wheel, and yet, in the video animation there is no steering wheel! Compared to courses such as iDriveSafely or DriversEd.com, the animations in this course are quite low in quality.
200 professionally-developed practice questions – The practice questions are straight forward and relevant to the content in the course.
Practical driving activities that allow the instructor (parent or legal guardian) to demonstrate driving tasks – This is a great feature of the course. Parents can print out PDF activity sheets with different driving maneuvers they can teach their child. These sheets include step-by-step instructions such as how to create a safe area to practice the maneuvers, teaching techniques, etc. Many parents feel overwhelmed when teaching their teen how to drive and don’t know where to start. These printable driving activities will be a big help.
Tasks for the student to practice that allow for real-world driving experience – These are very similar to the instructor activity guides, but there are also special guides just for teens that they can practice on their own. Again, these are activities that take place in the real-world (not online), but the guides that are provided offer excellent advice, tips, and instructions.
How it Works
Although the website also doesn’t provide much of an explanation about how the course works, I was able to log into the course and check it out for myself.
First, you will need to order your PTDE packet from the TDLR, and once you receive it, your child can start the online course. Once the first six hours of the course are completed, Driver’s Education 101 will send you a certificate (although they don’t mention how long it will take) so that your child can get a learner’s license. Once the learner’s license is in hand, you can start providing the 44 hours of required behind-the-wheel training and observation while your child completes the remaining 26 hours of online coursework. State regulations limit online coursework to two hours a day, which means that the fastest timeframe for completing the online coursework is 16 days.
Driver’s Education 101 provides behind-the-wheel lesson plans in PDF format so you can print them to take along with you during training. Your child will need to complete seven hours of logged driving instruction, 7 hours of logged in-car observation, and 30 hours of supervised driving practice. Ten of those practice hours must be completed at night. But they don’t tell you any of that on the website.
Once the course is complete and your child has passed the final exam (which also isn’t mentioned anywhere on the site,) Driver’s Education 101 will send you a course completion certificate, which is required to obtain a driver’s license.
Things I Liked
As mentioned previously, I think the PDF handouts and driving lesson plans are fantastic. This course is also easy to use and navigate through. They have been approved by the state of Texas and all state mandated requirements as it pertains to online drivers ed courses will be covered in this course. This course is also a bit lower in price than many other alternatives.
Things I Didn’t Like
They boast that their multi-media course, which includes 3-D driving videos, audio narration, photographs, and “easy-to-understand diagrams,” makes the course interesting and helps make it easier to learn how to drive. But here’s the thing. The lessons they provide mostly consists of PowerPoint slideshow presentations with dense text. And yes, the course features audio narration, but the narrator is reading exactly what’s on the screen, and it’s an electronic voice! Yes, that’s right, the narrator is a computer, and having to listen to that for a total of 32 hours will drive anyone stark raving mad.
The 3-D animations, shown from the driver’s perspective, are kind of cool, but those, too, are narrated by Mr. Robot Voice. In addition, there is a lot of blank time where there is no narration and nothing happening in the animation other than the car driving straight down the road. And finally, some of the animations are just terrible. For instance, they teach how to use the “push-pull” steering method using an animated video, and yet, there isn’t even a steering wheel in the video. They don’t even show how to properly move your hands, because hands don’t exist in the animation, either.
The course also requires the use of Flash in order to function properly. That means, if you are using an iPhone, iPad, or any other mobile device that doesn’t allow Flash to be installed, you are out of luck. The course would not function on my iPhone 6.
Rating for Driver’s Education 101
The bottom line is, we’re not impressed with the Driver’s Education 101’s online drivers ed course. I simply found the course to be boring, consisting of mostly powerpoint slides and a computerized voice. The 3D animations were sub-par at best and overall, the course felt as though it was several years of out date. In addition, the course would not work on my iPhone 6.
This course is best for someone who simply wants to get the state minimum requirements done at a low price. However, we think there are some much higher quality options available. If you wish to try a free demo of their course, you can access that here.
Review Updated On 10/23/15