Powered by equal parts social media technology and peer-to-peer network review, World Kayak’s blend of offline and online resources at KayakEducation.com represents the first Web 2.0-enabled approach to adventure sports instruction.
“If there are any other sports out there doing this, they’re pretty much keeping it a secret,” said World Kayak Executive Director James McBeath. McBeath has been responsible for pioneering the use of social networks to connect the whitewater kayaking community and industry. The organization’s two-year-old flagship sites, WorldKayak.com and Worldkayakblogs.com, a mashup of news, information and blogs from whitewater kayakers recently logged 200,000 unique visitors in one month - no mean feat for a sport the Outdoor Industry Association says counts just 2.2 million participants in the United States.
KayakEducation.com gives students access to an eLearning portal offering online text, photos and videos that correspond to on-water training progressions. Online resources for World Kayak accredited instructors include detailed explanations of theory, skill progressions, marketing tools and the opportunity to contribute to the development of new teaching techniques and curriculum.
“Long overdue, World Kayak is bringing paddling instruction into the digital age,” said reigning world freestyle kayak champion Eric “EJ” Jackson. Jackson’s firm, Jackson Kayak, has provided the vision and lion’s share of seed funding for World Kayak.
McBeath explained KayakEducation.com help bolster World Kayak’s overall mission to double participation in whitewater kayaking by providing a technologically advanced “learn” component in the try-learn-play-compete formula for turning novices into enthusiasts. The site also provides the following benefits:
- Greater global coordination of best teaching practices
- Ongoing curriculum updates by World Kayak accredited teaching professionals
- Specialty courses for more advanced disciplines such as playboating and creeking
- Opportunities for educators to promote and cross-market their course offerings
- A central calendar for whitewater instructor trainings and consumer courses
- Cross-promotion with the greater World Kayak community
McBeath explained World Kayak’s educational program follows the natural progression of any paddler: “As you graduate from beginner, to intermediate, into advanced and instructing and on to starting and running your own business in whitewater education, World Kayak provides best practice for you to ensure staying power and effectiveness at the front lines of our growth - the education of kayakers!”
General membership in World Kayak is free; fees to access the education portal start as low as $3 per month for students, topping out at $15 per month for member kayak teaching organizations.
With the introduction of its education platform, World Kayak bolsters its mission to double participation in whitewater kayaking by forging stronger ties among whitewater enthusiasts. World Kayak’s offline activities include a worldwide network of volunteer ambassadors, many of whom coordinate Hometown Throwdowns, regionally based skills competitions for recreational whitewater paddlers.