AIARE 2 Hybrid Course Sample Outline

AIARE 2 Goals

The goal of an AIARE 2 is for students to be able to assess uncertainty in avalanche terrain.

AIARE 2 students will build upon what they learned in an AIARE 1 and then apply The AIARE Framework to new and unfamiliar situations while receiving coached mentorship from their instructors. During this process, AIARE 2 students will build-out their AIARE 2 Toolbox: the tools and techniques they develop on-course that directly relate to managing uncertainty with regards to group dynamics, snowpack and terrain.

We want you to keep this big picture in mind when designing your courses for next season and in determining what students will learn on their own and what you will need to review and teach synchronously – whether that is in a classroom, via Zoom, or in the field.

Instruction Modes

We went through all the learning outcomes for an AIARE course and categorized into three types:

    1. Outcomes students can meet on their own with the right resources. For this content, we are creating online learning modules so that students can direct their own learning before and during the course, and have a reference for after the course.
    2. Outcomes best met through instruction from an an expert who can answer questions and speak to local specifics. For this content, we will provide suggestions for virtual or classroom sessions.
    3. Outcomes best met through experiences in the field. For this content, as locally appropriate, you would continue to teach in the field with 1:6 ratios.

What constitutes an AIARE Course?

While there are hours guidelines provided by both A3 and AIARE (24 hour courses with 60% of those hours in the field), they are meant to give you an idea of the scope and design of the course. The goal of the course is not the hours, but the learning outcomes. The goal of the AIARE 1 is for students to be able to use The AIARE Framework to manage their risk in avalanche terrain and continue their learning. 

Keep this guidance and the goal in mind when designing a learning experience (in person or online) for your students next season.

What you will need to do to prepare for the 2020-21 season

As always, AIARE provides curriculum and content to support you delivering high quality avalanche courses. The success of these courses depends on you, the Providers and Instructors (otherwise everything would just be online and non one would need a teacher!). As always, you need to take our curriculum and content and create agendas and an instructional plan that works for the specifics of your venue and staff.

Unless you are making no changes to your courses next year, you will need to adapt your classroom sessions to an online learning environment. We don’t recommend simply holding your classroom sessions as you normally would but via a video conference. If you haven’t experienced 8 hours on Zoom yet, take it from our experience that it is soul crushing.

Keeping it simple, you could use the website for 4(ish) hours of student self-paced learning coupled with 4(ish) hours of video conference classroom instruction. But we also organized the website so that you could also use it to supplement your own online learning curriculum you have developed or as a supplement to a more “typical” classroom session that might be held virtually over 4 or 5 sessions.

Whatever you end up doing, there will be additional planning time required this year to refine agendas and prepare your instructional sessions that will happen via Zoom. We are planning several webinars to help out with using Zoom, Google Classroom, presenting online, and facilitate sharing of ideas among Providers and Instructors for operations during a global pandemic.

Sample Outline

The following is a sample outline of an AIARE 2 hybrid course.

Pre-course setup and communications

  • Introduction Email: Who you (instructors) are. What to expect online, in a virtual classroom (be ready to be on video), in person (including your pandemic risk management protocols). Who to contact with operational or content questions. How long should they expect to wait for a response. What do they need to bring to their first class session (questions? A completed worksheet? Pass a quiz?)
  • Give them homework – in addition to completing the short quizzes online and figuring out anything you’re muddy on, write down areas you are confused or have questions. Revisit those pages the night before the course, see if you’ve figured anything out or if your thinking has changed. Then bring your questions to class.
  • Depending on timing, follow up with a couple of reminders emails of all the previous information. Consider some generic learning prompts (what’s the danger rating today? What’s the avalanche problem? How do you think all this snow we’ve been getting is affecting conditions?)

Module 1: Self-paced instruction

See the AIARE 2 Online Outline for more details and learning outcomes covered by each webpage

  • UNCERTAINTY: Overview
    • Sources of Uncertainty
    • Reducing Uncertainty
    • Employing a terrain mindset
    • Snowpack Basics Review
    • Snowpack Structure
    • Snowpack Metamorphism
    • Persistent Weak Layers
    • Avalanche Problems
    • Why Dig in the Snow?
    • Where to Dig?
    • What Information Comes from Digging?
    • Planning to Reduce Uncertainty
    • Trip Option Catalogs
    • Creating a Catalog
    • The Avalanches and Observation Reference and Terrain
    • Travel Strategies
    • Building Margins

Module 2: Zoom Session(s)

You will need to organize your own content to meet the needs of your audience, method of delivery, and venue. These talking points are all based on current lesson plans and powerpoints. What is suggested here is likely at least a couple of virtual classroom sessions or a least one session with some generous breaks built in.

  • Introductions: Introduce instructors, the group to each other – what you are going to cover this session; consider 5-10 minutes of discussion about “onboarding for your hybrid AIARE 2” if not specifically addressed in an introductory email.
  • The AIARE Framework Review: Your spiel on why pre-trip hazard assessment is important, perhaps a case study or personal anecdote. This is also an opportunity to understand to what extent your student group has been using The AIARE Framework and how much time they have spent in the backcountry after their AIARE 1 course.
  • Review: Answer questions about the AIARE 2 Pre-Course Quiz

AIARE 2 Content:

There are four examples of synchronous lessons pulled from the AIARE 2 curriculum below. We encourage you to develop additional discussion questions, use break-out sessions, and build ways to check for understanding with Zoom or other web conferencing software. Some big-picture virtual learning ideas include polling, use of the chat-box, participant screen-sharing, break-out rooms, “quick-write” exercises where students write out an answer to question on their own time and then return to the group and integrating Google Classroom discussions and Google Documents into the Zoom platform. Stay tuned for virtual learning professional development opportunities from AIARE this Fall!

Session 1: Snowpack Structure Part 1

Specifically this lesson can address the following learning outcome:

  1. Describe how regional prevailing weather interacts with the course area field venue to influence the snowpack.

Zoom Topic: Introduce Field Locations:

  • Forecast Area Summary/Regional Summary
  • Location in Forecast Zone/Location in Region
  • Discuss Regional Weather Patterns

Session 2: Prepare – Track the Season’s Conditions

Specifically this lesson can address the following learning outcome:

  1. With coaching, build on the pre-course exercise to construct a seasonal snowpack history that includes key weather events related to avalanche cycles, hazard trends leading up to the course, and dates problem layers in the snowpack.

Zoom Topic: Instructor Seasonal Snowpack Summary

  • Keep it simple and repeatable for students.
  • Note layers of concern
  • Note major storm events
  • Note avalanche cycles
    [Consider having students take 5 minutes and sketch out generic snowpack stratigraphy on their own and ask for volunteers to share via Zoom]
  • Review Pre-Course Track the Season’s Conditions Exercise
    [Instructors can share and demo their completed version of the pre-course exercise as well]

Session 3: Plan – Plan Your Trip

Specifically this lesson can address the following learning outcomes:

  1. Describe the role a facilitator plays in ensuring the group uses checklists and achieves consensus.
  2. Identify gaps in knowledge or understanding about the current conditions.
  3. Use maps, photos and guidebooks to identify a route plan that limits the amount of
    avalanche exposure in response to uncertainty.

Zoom Topic: AIARE 1 Trip Planning Review and AIARE 2 Trip Planning Objectives

  • Same process as AIARE 1 but AIARE 2 students will continue developing/refining their toolbox for trip planning
  • Emphasis on consensus and the role of a facilitator in the trip planning process.
  • Relate how uncertainty with group, conditions and terrain might factor into trip planning

Session 4: Prepare – Trip Option Catalogs

Specifically this lesson can address the following learning outcomes:

  1. Identify resources and relevant information to begin building trip option catalogs.
  2. With assistance from an Instructor, use maps and photos to identify avalanche terrain, exposure to avalanches, and potential consequences.

Zoom Topic: Instructor Show/Tell of Venue Specific Trip Option Catalogs

  • Show a collection of venue specific trip option catalogs
  • Keep them simple and discuss pros/cons of maps, photos, guidebooks and web-based options
  • Start the process of identifying potential touring options for field days

Module 3: Self-directed Learning and On Course Assignments

Pre-existing AIARE 2 Pre-Course Assignments

  • Track the Season’s Conditions Spreadsheet (7 days leading up to the course)
  • AIARE 2 Pre-Course Quiz (Check for understanding during AIARE 1 Review Module)

Other learning outcomes

  • Facilitate the creation of a Plan with the advisory or available relevant data that enables a group to limit exposure while traveling in avalanche terrain.
    • Assignment: Complete components of the the PLAN Your Trip section of your AIARE Field Book before arriving to class each morning. Use local forecasts whenever present.
  • Apply the Ride Safely checklists to evaluate conditions and facilitate the process of communicating hazard and risk within a group.
    • Assignment: Sketch profiles from field sessions in graph paper at the back of AIARE Field Book
  • Develop opinions about current conditions and share with group each morning
    • Assignment options could include: discussing where the better riding conditions might exist; explaining where the avalanche problem lies in the terrain; identifying layers of concern
  • Prepare for backcountry travel each season by practicing rescue skills, and by developing a personal catalog of terrain options that relate to the seasonal snowpack history, weather, and avalanche danger.
    • Assignment: Trip Option Catalog Homework Assignment for Final Field Day
  • Facilitate a Debrief that summarizes conditions, reviews decisions, and discusses ways to improve the plan in order to intentionally develop experience.
    • Assignment: Debrief Journal–have students answer the DEBRIEF questions (page 5) in the blank pages at the back of the AIARE Field Book after each field day. They can share the following morning or next class session.

Concluding Thoughts:

Throughout this process we encourage you to think about your students first and the technology second. It can be helpful to place yourself in your student’s shoes and think about how they might be interacting with the content and the instruction. Strive for meeting the course learning outcomes by teaching repeatable skills and processes, and when in doubt, keep it simple.

Design and adapt your instruction so you can answer “yes” to the following questions:

  1. Is this information going to help my students make a better decision in the field?
  2. Will my student get an opportunity to apply this new skill or knowledge in the decision making process?
  3. Is this information observable vs. theoretical?