The rapid rise of social media has transformed the way we interact, seek information, and share our experiences. From connecting with friends to joining communities centred around various topics, it has become an integral part of our daily lives. However, when it comes to seeking professional advice, particularly for driving instructors, relying solely on social media platforms like Facebook can lead to a range of challenges and potential pitfalls. In this article, we explore the problems associated with driving instructors using social media for advice and discuss the importance of relying on more reliable sources.
Misinformation and Inaccurate Guidance
One of the biggest problems with seeking advice on social media is the prevalence of misinformation. While these platforms provide a space for individuals to express their opinions, they may lack credibility or expertise in the subject matter. Driving instructors must ensure that the advice they receive is accurate, up-to-date, and aligned with official guidelines and regulations. Relying solely on social media for guidance can expose them and their students to potentially dangerous or incorrect information.
Lack of Context and Individualisation
Social media platforms often provide a one-size-fits-all approach to advice, disregarding the importance of individual circumstances and unique teaching styles. Driving instructors work with a diverse range of students, each with their own learning needs and abilities. Seeking advice from a broad audience on social media may not consider these nuances, leading to ineffective teaching methods or inadequate guidance for specific situations. Tailoring instruction to the individual learner is crucial for effective driving education, and social media may not provide the necessary context for such customisation.
Limited Accountability and Quality Control
Unlike established training programs or professional organisations, social media lacks a comprehensive system of accountability and quality control. Anyone can post advice or share their experiences, regardless of their qualifications or expertise. This lack of accountability makes it difficult for driving instructors to discern the reliability and credibility of the information they encounter on social media platforms. Without an authoritative body or industry standards overseeing the information shared, the risk of following incorrect or substandard advice increases.
Inadequate Discussion and Professional Development
Social media platforms, including Facebook groups, tend to foster short and fragmented interactions. While they can provide a space for discussion, the nature of these platforms often limits the depth and quality of conversations. Driving instructors require ongoing professional development to stay updated with best practices, new regulations, and instructional techniques. Relying solely on social media for such development may hinder their ability to engage in comprehensive and well-rounded discussions, potentially limiting their professional growth.
Ethical and Legal Concerns
Using social media to seek advice can raise ethical and legal concerns for driving instructors. Sharing sensitive or confidential information related to students, instructional techniques, or specific situations on public platforms can compromise student privacy and confidentiality. Additionally, without proper consent, sharing specific details or images related to driving instructions may breach confidentiality agreements. Instructors must exercise caution when seeking advice online to protect the rights and privacy of their students.
Where can I go for information and advice
With all this sad news it can be confusing to where to go for information. Well, I offer some advice to be able to spot some of the positive signs. First and probably the most important, is the advice following the 17 competencies from the DVSA. Driver trainers should use these competencies as a starting block to anything we do or advise on. Many try to dismiss these competencies as rubbish and try to do their own thing. Whatever your view the simple fact is you have to show you have an understanding of the competencies in anything you do with the DVSA so we need to agree that this is the starting block. The competencies are not plucked out of the air by some paper pusher. They are steeped in research and education. Take my word for it, I have done the research and met many of the people who carried it out. The fact is we need to be able to understand each one to begin. So, if you are looking for advice, this is what you will be wanting to hear.
Secondly, I would be looking for advice that contains coaching. Sources that begin to question what you know and build from that. As I like to say, sources that teach you to fish not just feed you fish. Sources that encourage you to question what they say and the reasons behind the advice. Much of my advice starts off with ‘What does it say in the Highway Code?’ or whatever official book is appropriate. I might follow with ‘What problems could YOU see with that?’ I am trying to help instructors learn and understand where to go next time.
Thirdly, what about your reference books etc? I see so many books written by instructors, not using correct teaching or empirical facts. Everything I produce at DTE-Elite is written alongside the DVSA own syllabus and competencies. I challenged someone last night and am more than happy for someone to show me anywhere I do not use this. Yes, occasionally someone will come up with ‘I think you should mention xyz or abc’ but my answer is, show me where the official DVSA have this or the DVLA or any officially recognised publication and they never can. If I mention something outside an official publication, I will add it’s my opinion for you to choose.
While social media platforms offer numerous benefits in terms of connectivity and information sharing, they may not be the most reliable or appropriate source for driving instructors seeking advice. Misinformation, lack of context, limited accountability, inadequate discussion, and ethical concerns all contribute to the potential pitfalls of relying solely on social media for professional guidance. Instead, driving instructors should prioritize established training programs, peer-reviewed publications, and professional organizations for accurate, context-specific, and accountable advice. By seeking reliable sources and engaging in comprehensive professional development, driving instructors can ensure the highest quality of instruction and contribute to a safer driving environment for all.
Dave Foster MA, Dip.DI (or Driving School Dave) is the most qualified driving school owner in the country, after completing his Master’s Degree in Driver Training Education in 2011 at Middlesex University. He also holds a diploma in Driving Instruction and is a Cert Ed. qualified teacher. Dave is the founder and Managing Director of 1st 4 Driving Ltd, and also looks after over 15 driving schools across the country on a consultancy basis.