An Update from the Avalanche Center
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Introduction, From the Director
We're now one month into a new season. Some equipment is selling and budget wise we're scraping by on that and a few contributions people made after our first email a few weeks ago. Snow has fallen in some places already and there has been at least one avalanche fatality in North America, in Canada. Details on that will be added to the Incidents section but have not been yet.
Shirt Sale - We still have some shirts so we're running our sale again. Short sleeved are $15 including the shipping. While they last. When they run out or get close we will order more but the cost is usually $18 plus shipping.
Tech Help - We could use some technical help if any of our computer science type friends are reading this. To install a script we need the GD package (on a BSD server) and it isn't working without install errors. Script installation has rarely been a problem so once this is done we should be able to proceed.
Updating the product lines has been going slow but as part of doing that store items now have (or should have) reliable tags for brand and product type. This will make it feasible to have sales on certain lines across the board or on certain items such as beacons across all products.
Right now the BCA line is completely up to date and to celebrate the shopping cart will automatically deduct 20% from any non-pack BCA product, the Float series packs and related items have a 10% discount. The members discount applies on top of this which amounts to a really great deal for this time of year. There is no set expiration date, it could end tomorrow! (OK, it's not ending tomorrow, but beyond that we haven't decided.)
If you find and report any problems, such as an item not automatically being discounted, we will look into it and send you a free shirt if it turns out that we need to fix something.
We also have a special clearance page. Whenever we post something new we'll announce it on our Facebook page. Right now, while they last, we have 2 old model G3 240 Tech Probes for $30, or $50 for both. This is below the lowest prices on any current models, even the two or three price point ones. We have more things in the queue, possibly including a few beacons we just got more of than we need on the shelf right now.
The final store news is that we are connecting some of the material from the Avalanche Institute to store purchases. Anyone who purchases a beacon can take Module 2 (Safe Travel and Equipment) and Module 3 (Rescue), as well as Module 1 which is a short general background prerequisite. We've also used material from Module 2 to create two very short mini-courses on the use and care of probes and shovels. Anyone who purchases a probe or a shovel can take the corresponding mini-course. These are also free for Avalanche Center members.
Education - Avalanche Institute
As mentioned above, there are two new mini-courses that are free to purchasers of probes and/or shovels as well as to members. These cover useful information that often gets lost in the rush of a full weekend course. These mini-courses are too brief to be able to apply them towards any full modules or courses, but in addition to the educational value they also introduce the Dokeos platform we use, the type of structured learning path typically used, and how quizzes work.
Beacon purchases now include the first three modules of our Level 1 course which cover all of equipment and rescue, as well as safe travel practices. Our general policy of allowing the value of each module to be applied to the full course applies. (Module 1 is background material with no stand-alone value, Modules 2 and 3 each have a set fee.)
In addition to spinning off the mini-courses the first three modules of the Level 1 course have been reviewed and refined, including the workbook sections. No significant changes were made in terms of content but there was some reorganization as well as formatting updates and spelling checks. One advantage of electronic materials over material printed in large quantities is that electronic ones can be updated or corrected almost immediately. This is less commonly warranted now but during development and review there were various changes made based on feedback as soon as it was received.
The final type of work underway on the Avalanche Institute is to improve the organization of information about it. There are complete details for most of the course modules in each course but this has not been linked well with the Institute entry page, which is script-generated by Dokeos primarily for logging in. There is now a prominent link there to a public home page which in turn links to all of this existing detailed information. This is a new page and needs more work but in terms of making details more easily found for courses one is not enrolled in it's a step forward.
Information will also become available in the form of screen-capture video, with the first one to be posted within a few days. This initial one will demonstrate how Avalanche Center members can register, login, and subscribe to the few free (mini-)courses on their own. For most modules an administrator still needs to add users after registration and payment but this is easier and quicker if you already have an account. For non-members an admin will still need to create your account.
On Tap ...
The most immediate efforts will continue along the same lines. The updating of the store needs to be completed, and this will include other sales like the current BCA one. There is a lot to do on the Avalanche Institute which is becoming more of a priority and probably a very important key to the future of the project. A lot of this is tedious and time consuming.
The Incidents section needs to be completed for last season, and we already have one addition to make for this season. This follows closely in the priority list behind the store and educational work.
Even though labor has always been almost entirely donated the spectre of paying overhead costs is always there and the biggest thing that helps the project right now is to contribute. Purchasing your equipment from us helps a lot too and includes membership as well as access to educational material.
Work on these things will continue to the extent possible and another newsletter will bring you up to date in a little while, probably close to or prior to Philanthropy Day on November 15. Keep us in mind as that approaches.