By Chris Rogers A

s an early advocate and designer of e-learning materials for ski and snowboard schools and PSIA-AASI, I’ve heard a lot of questions, concerns, and dismissal of e-learning as a tool. One common sentiment is that digital learning can never

replace hands-on, feet-on-the-snow experi- ences for learning to ski and snowboard. My response is this statement: Kids born today will not know a reality

that does not include virtual reality. Consider that for a minute, and then

think back to when you were a kid. What technology was pervasive, and what was just emerging? In the late 80s and early 90s, a family

might have had a shared computer. By the late 90s, many people had their own computers and laptops, and the internet began connecting us all. Digital cameras, cell phones, email, and video streaming, just to name a few “new” technologies, all have gone through phases from early to mainstream adoption to near ubiqui- tous access. The field of education has been evolving

for as long as humans have been teaching each other, and in the last few years tech- nology and education have intertwined in ways that fundamentally change how we learn. Students no longer need to memorize multiplication tables or be able to remember

in what century Aristotle lived; they have a device in their pocket that can calculate thousands of digits of Pi and look up any answer in a matter of seconds. This is not to say that gathering knowledge is no longer important, but that the way in which we do so is continuing to change.


E-learning has developed from simply digitally presenting the same information found in print publi- cations to creative combinations of mixed- media – with video, audio, photos, and text all delivering information in a way that can be revisited as needed and with questions that reinforce learning. Our own PSIA-AASI e-learning modules (at ingCourses) are offerings in this genre that allow us to prepare or “prime” instructors for certification, and we’re already seeing results with candidates coming to exams more prepared. Until recently, e-leaning was primarily

used for traditional education, but the above factors have already led to a generation of

kids who have grown up connected to high- quality audio-visual information. People are learning to learn by watching videos on YouTube and then trying what they’re seeing – an extension of the Watcher- Doer learning style. The next generation of e-learning, powered by innovative orga- nizations like Khan Academy, are using the approach to flip classroom environments; having students take the lesson at home as the homework and use the class time as an opportunity for working through problems, with the teacher available to answer questions. With emerging technologies like drones, 360-degree cameras, and virtual reality headsets, we’re on the verge of a whole new learning style that takes things a step beyond Watcher-Doer and separates expe- riencing from doing. Schools are already using virtual reality “expeditions” to take classroom fieldtrips around the world, through space, and even into the human bloodstream (visit expeditions). While these are cutting-edge uses of technology now, in a few years they’ll be commonplace… and in 10 years they’ll be expectations from the generation of kids who will grow up with virtual reality being part of their everyday lives.


What might that look like in 10 years? For our industry, it could mean fully immersive experiences, with our guests visiting resorts virtually before setting foot on snow. Imag- ine sending new students a virtual experi- ence the week before they arrive – you could introduce their equipment, show them your beginner area, and even walk them through the lesson plan. When they arrive for their lesson they’re primed for learning and ready to hit the ground sliding! Similarly, for clinics and exams train-

What might technology have in store for the snowsports industry? 42 | 32 DEGREES • SPRING 2019

ers could send videos of skills and drills prior to a clinic, so that, just like with the flipped classroom, instructors can prepare in advance and the clinic time with the trainer would revolve around practice and adjust- ment rather than introduction to content. A future version of The Matrix (PSIA-AASI’s video library) might include virtual-reality components that enable candidates to expe- rience National Standards video first-hand, railing a carve as Alpine Team member


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