Digital age for SCUBA Instructors

The Digital Age for SCUBA Instructors

The digital age is here, and everyone is either adapting to it and thriving, or slowly falling behind in this fast moving, information rich age!

While PADI is at the forefront of researching and developing “eLearning” tools to increase the reach of their programs, many members of PADI don’t realise what amazing tools are out there. The PADI eLearning programs are built using Adobe’s platform, and primarily need Adobe Flash to run, because of this they’re currently only available on Windows. However, if you have an Android or Apple device you can get another version of PADI’s digital programs, PADI Touch.

Other organisations such as SSI, RAID and SDI/TDI all now have eLearning programs that use a very similar platform, while the benefits below are mainly considering what PADI has to offer, they can be taken in to consideration for any of the other agencies.

What are the benefits of going for digital training materials?

While the digital programs don’t currently have a distinctive financial benefit of switching, they definitely still have a huge advantage and will add loads of value to your programs. These benefits include:

  • Mobility – All digital products work on a voucher system, therefore you can make a bulk purchase and link it to your PRO’s account, this will allow you to often receive a big discount and allow you to have stock no matter where in the world you may be. The digital programs come in a variety of languages, so no matter where you are you will be able to convey the theoretical building blocks over to your students.
  • Referrals – in the past referrals have been an awkward situation where the student has already received the materials and a PIC (Positive Identification Card, this is the registration that gets you the PADI card when completing your training) that is credited to either the instructor or dive center who bought the materials. In the event that someone does not complete their PADI course they receive the option of completing it somewhere else in the world while still receiving credit for what they have done. Conventionally the student would lose the value of the PIC and would have to pay again for it. With the digital programs the PIC is linked to the materials, therefore when a student does not complete their training, they would carry over their PIC just as easily as their materials.

What are the benefits of going digital with teaching aids?

Some tools that I find very useful in my day to day dealing as a diving instructor and guiding are the following:

  1. Cloud storage: this has been the single biggest benefit to being able to provide clients with information on the run. I started using dropbox, but soon realized that this platform just didn’t have enough space (if you plan on just using the free version), so I soon moved on to Google Drive. While google drive had ample space, it also gave me the benefit of using the rest of Google’s arsenal of tools!
  2. Google docs and communities were the next set of tools that really streamlined my life and allowed me to move every single teaching aid (forms, liabilities, answer sheets and keys, etc.) on to a single tablet. At this point all I needed was a device that took up less space than any of the PADI manuals that would by themselves be more than the average flight’s weight allowance.
  3. Another digital aid to my programs is bookkeeping software that is free and adds value both to my financial organization and to my communications with clients. I use Wave for this, it’s a straight forward program that is compatible with iOS and Android, and above all keeps the data on the cloud, so no matter where I am I can easily access it.

PADI Prescriptive Teaching lesson guides

These lesson guides not only allowed me to quickly respond to questions, they also gave me a really easy to follow structure for all my courses. The PADI lesson guides are available for most of the programs, and mostly have slides on the entire course curriculum. While many instructors like the recent approach of self-study, I believe that combining self-study and time in the classroom is essential to giving a new diver the best possible insight in the limited time you have with them.

So to summarize all of this, I would recommend you focus on the following:

  1. Get familiar with eLearning materials
  2. Get cloud storage with Google Drive to store all your documentation
  3. Get bookkeeping software such as Wave
  4. Get familiar with PADI’s teaching aids such as prescriptive teaching

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