Snow and Avalanche Center 2009 Avalanche News

Online Avalanche Institute to Open

The Avalanche Center,, is proud to announce that our new Avalanche Institute will be open this season. Our cornerstone project is a complete Level 1 course with all non-field material presented online. Field days will be available from partners, with the first one scheduled for Oregon in December. (Courtesy of AlpenPro)

The Avalanche Institute began about three seasons ago, and most of the Level 1 course has been available to select groups of students for the past two seasons. While the results and feedback have been excellent the endeavor has required far more work than initially anticipated and therefore nothing has been offered to the general public prior to this season.

Coursework is implemented using the open source Dokeos software. This is popular among universities in Europe as well as for continuing professional education in the medical fields as well as others. Our courses will not be the result of a one-time effort that is left on the web for people to use with no guidance, communication or feedback. There are quizes to test and reinforce the material, there are tools such as a drop box for communicating with instructors and other students, and many other interactive features.

The amount of material included in the Level 1 course exceeds what can possibly be taught in a traditional 24 hour course including field time. No longer do instructors need to make decisions and compromises on content due to a shortage of time. No longer will students miss out on some material as a result of being tired, late, or busy. All students will cover the same material - all of it. On their terms and at their leisure when they are ready to concentrate.

A challenge system is also in place for people who feel that they know the material in a course or module. They can take the quizes without going through the instruction for a nominal fee. If they are successful the fee may be applied to any other module or course of their choice. This permits people who do know the material to take only advanced modules or topics, to qualify for field day attendance, or achieve certification.

Advanced topics will be made available as well, by the end of the season. Level 1 modules or certification will serve as prerequisites in most cases.

The name "Avalanche Institute" was introduced several years ago when the online facilities were first installed. (In 2005, actually.) It is already being copied for local programs. While imitation may be the best form of flattery we want to be clear that we are not affiliated with any other program, and also that we are not slapping the name onto a traditional program in order to imply that it has become something more. The Avalanche Institute is unique and the entire program and methodology are new.

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Avalanche Institute


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