This month the issue of online Scuba Instruction has come to my attention. The concept behind the program is not that different to home study programs offered by many agencies and dive stores worldwide. Put simply the vast bulk of theory is done at home or wherever the potential diver has time to learn.
It was a fairly straight forward process of reading a manual and completing the knowledge reviews and quizzes before attending a short classroom session to review the material covered in private study, do some dive table work and complete a final theory exam. Primed with this information the budding diver to be heads off on vacation and completes his or her course in some idyllic location that serves drinks with little umbrellas as the sunsets over the ocean. That was the Nineties; today it is becoming a whole new ball game.
Even PADI the worlds largest training agency has begun moves to develop a system for online scuba education, BSAC has over recent times developed a superb interactive Q & A theory element to there site. Other major training agencies are also pushing the world of "edive" learning.
The fact that agencies are starting to concede that online learning will be become a reality in the next few years is a quantum leap forward and will ensure that the materials provided are up to date and most importantly when you enroll in a programme you will be learning in a program that has been educationally developed for online instruction.
Most importantly the multimedia material you require to e’learn is going to be developed for online instruction and not a text book with a couple of interactive home made quizzes. Courses will contain legally legitimate material and not a pirated copy or downloaded. Why is this important well in a litigious society the moment something goes wrong the first action is to call the lawyer then the ambulance. The current teaching systems are designed with this in mind and have fallbacks that will counter the ambulance chasing sharks.
If you seek online dive education, and have no doubt that it is the future. Check what you are receiving , check the credentials of the online instructor ask for verification and most importantly check that standards and procedures are being adhered too. If you have any questions, then contact the training agency that you are being certified with to ensure that what you are receiving is from an educationally valid program with backup and not a get rich e’scheme.
Like a quality learn to dive course the price reflects the service, materials and help you can expect to receive, paying $50 for an open water dive course and expecting the same service as a $250 course is foolhardy. Learning online will be no different, if anything the costs could in the initial couple of years be slightly higher to reflect that the customer is the one with the best end of the deal more of their own time, whilst the Instructor and Dive Store will have more work to do and will be spending more time to get these courses working effectively.