IRF GTE Instructor Conference 2021 welcomed over 80 participants
The IRF’s 2020 Instructor Conference was scheduled to be held in France in May last year but due to the pandemic, was postponed to May this year. As the time approached it became obvious that the pandemic still had its grip on the world. And so the decision was made to run the GTE Instructor Conference online.
Usually the conference organisation needs involve dealing with hosts, potential speakers, subjects and trade partners. This time it was a very technically demanding organisational challenge. The format decided upon was to have pre-recorded presentations from the various speakers lined up, with live discussion and Q&A sessions immediately after each. This worked extremely well, cut down on the chances of technical glitches, and the interactive sessions were appreciated and productive.
In order to maximise attendance globally it was decided to run two sessions of the online conference, at differing times, so as to accommodate as many instructors living in different time zones as possible. This also worked extremely well.
The first session on 10 May was aimed primarily at Europe and eastwards and saw 38 attendees. The second session on the 17 May was aimed at the Americas and saw 46 attendees. In addition to this, each session had six presenters involved. All invitees were certified IRF Instructors and Assessors. Each of the sessions were tailored to develop the knowledge base of the attendees on the various subjects presented. The live questions generated some healthy discussion, with some excellent ideas put forward which will be used to develop future advancements to the GTE Award System.
Below are the GTE Instructor Conference presenters’ pre-recorded presentations:
- Eric Boudreau, IRF 2nd Vice President & Chair of Sport & Competition Committee – Introduction & Welcome
- Sebastian Larcher, IRF Instructor – the new Whitewater Guide award
- Zachary Collier – growing the IRF River Family
- Sean Clarke, GTE Administration – updates to GTE administration
- Mark Hirst, GTE Secretary & IRF Assessor – GTE assessment standards
- Neil Newton Taylor, IRF Assessor – assessing paddleboat skills
- Sean Clarke, GTE Administration – GTE and social media
At the session on 17 May, a fitting one minute’s silence was held in respect for IRF Honorary President and GTE Assessor, Rafael Gallo, whose passing earlier in 2021 has been a big loss to the IRF and felt deeply by many all around the world.
The conference was a great coming together of IRF Instructors and Assessors where the sharing of knowledge, best practices, ideas and experiences contributed to making the experience a rich one for all in attendance. And it has given them, and the GTE System itself, renewed energy to strive forward into the future.
Gabriel Gabriel Cote-Valiquette of Canada had this to say: “The platform used was awesome – I loved that there was a chat box so that people could ask/answer questions and comment. The presenters clearly put a lot of work in the videos that were shared, and I loved that there was an opportunity to ask questions “live” to the presenters after each video. I also like the interaction component to keep people engaged – for example, Mark’s quiz on GTE administration… this made us think.”
Alejandro C Giordano of Spain said “I’d like to congratulate you all for the great effort on this 2021 IRF GTE Instructor Conference which I believe everyone, and personally me, were very satisfied with the quality of all the presentations, simple clear platform and especially the crucial content in it.”
Yasuo Homma of Japan said “It was great to connect with so many people in this format. And I learnt a lot.”
Ena Buenfil Zamudio who hails from Mexico said “It was amazing to meet people working hard, making the rafting industry better for all, for customers, guides and operators.”
Huge thanks must go to Mark Hirst for putting the Conference together, to Sean Clarke for taking on the massive webinar operation learning curve, as well as the production of slides, videos and other media needed for the Conference, and to the presenters – Mark, Sean, Neil, Gaspar, Zach and Sebastian!
The huge success of this online Conference means it certainly won’t be our last online GTE Instructor Conference, but we certainly hope that the ability to have them face to face again is something we can do soon as well!
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