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What would your ideal training agency look like?

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba' started by ScubaWithTurk, Jan 18, 2020.

  1. ScubaWithTurk

    ScubaWithTurk Bubble Blowing Buddha

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Huntington Beach, CA
    There have been some good ideas so far and I appreciate the response.

    I have a few thoughts with hopes it won’t derail the brainstorming.

    1. The club way does have some positives but instructors who do not get paid eliminate a career choice. I am a full time instructor and love it. I would hate to have that taken away if all training was to done by me for free.

    2. Adding items to the OW such as nitrox, while it seems like a good idea, has a couple of flaws from POV. The first is that nitrox is not available everywhere so now people in remote locations can’t teach it unless you offer a waiver. Also, the OWC is packed full of info and adding more may not be the best for the student. However, making it an “add-on” for the advanced I can see working.

    3. The DM and Instructor courses and certifications. The DM course could have more in it. Now the focus is on the skill circuit with little focus on guiding divers. Yes there is some but not near enough imo.

    We can’t say you have to have warm and cold water experience to be an instructor. If you grew up in a place with only one and have no desire to leave or dive other environments, why would you need both? It is a limiting factor that would eliminate some wonderful instructors.

    I do feel instructors should be certified and diving levels above what they teach. But to require all instructors to be tech divers is unrealistic. Some places do not allow tech diving. No dives below 30 and NO deco! So it you lived there or wanted to do an IDC there, you could not. It also takes that income from the instructor courses away from the centers.

    I will say that I am a recreational instructor and have found the skills and knowledge I have gained from my tech courses on OC and CCR to be invaluable.

    Back to the instructors and DMs for a minute, I feel both should be certified as nitrox and deep divers. Now I understand why, in some agencies, it is not required. Just as I stated above, due to availability of gases and depth, it would mean many centers could no longer teach these courses. So how do we find a way to be better without being exclusionary?

    Finally, I do not feel that the less divers the better. Just as I don’t feel dive training will never change. It is, like all things, impermanent. It is constantly changing. Sometimes for the good and other times for the worst but it still changes.

    Please keep the comments coming and I will add one I feel is key.

    I would like to see certain levels of diving, be it diver or instructor level, be based on skills acquired rather than on a dive or certification count that can mean very little. I have seen divers with 1000 dives that are trained tech divers but I will not let near me in the water. I have also seen instructors who should not be teaching anyone anything. Being a cave diver and tech instructor does not mean you are good at what you do.

    Evaluate skills first and foremost and yes, more QC on pros.
    chillyinCanada likes this.
  2. Diving Dubai

    Diving Dubai Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
    Since I (was one) that raise the point.

    Tech terminology depends on which agency you learn from. With BSAC back gas deco is taught at the second tier (Sports diver), only after passing and post cert depth progression dives are you certified to the max depth of 35m

    As you know, its easy on a 30m square profile dive with air or even 32% to be restricted by NDl before gas. Hence I'm a firm believer that back gas deco, be taught, and so that DM's and instructors have basic deco knowlege and experience, as well as the skills that go with it.

    I feel that the current Deep course (using PADI terms) be binned in favour of something that teaches very basic backgas deco. The skills and knowledge you receive are applicable in non deco rec diving

    More advanced deco (additional gasses and deeper etc, yes should be a specific course and not a requirement of progression.

    I also feel that (the hypothetical agency) could offer a experience path, again similar to BSAC, where you can gain additionally qualifications levels without having to go down the Instructor path

    eg in BSAC terms

    Ocean Diver = OW&AOW
    Sports Diver = Rescue (albeit with additional modules not covered by commercial organisations
    Dive Leader = DM
    Advanced Diver
    First Class Diver - This is what a Master Scuba diver really should be - and its really difficult to attain

    DL and above are really hard courses, one you certify you really are capable of mentoring other divers. The top two tiers should be deliberately challenging in such a way that you have to put substantial time and effort in to achieve them, not simply pay your money and attend a course.

    I also think that throughout diver training progression the basic OW skills should be re evaluated with ever increasing pass requirements

    So say OW buoyancy to say be within a +/- 2.5' (0.75m) but that window decreases proportionally with each training level.
    NothingClever and ScubaWithTurk like this.
  3. Divectionist

    Divectionist Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Gold Coast, Australia
    I've had exposure to VDTL, PADI and SDI. From 14 years ago to as recent as last year.

    I am surprised how crappy digital content delivery is despite the large amount of dollars charged per user and the large quantity of divers going through what essentially is an LMS. Unlike what an instructor actually does on the ground, this aspect is entirely under the control of an agency. Right now, online content and delivery could be a great point of differentiation for the agency that dares to invest to go beyond the current low standards.

    As far as the practical component is concerned, all hope is lost to control this at a high level when talking retail agencies. I've done or witnessed courses (beyond OWD) from highly rated shops that delivered bare bones instruction but keep customers happy through a bit of fun and bickering. Not what they were hired for but enough to give people an easy time.

    If we're honest, a course should be challenging. My ideal agency, although I had no opportunity to check them out yet, would be something like GUE, who seem to cover some useful ground even in their basic courses. For rec diving once the must have certs are done, my ideal is finding 1 to 1 tuition with an experienced, tech-minded instructor, who invites you to have a say on what weaknesses/challenges/worries to focus on in a solo course, or a session that has no card or title attached to it but is aimed the only thing counts - making you a better diver under more circumstances. Just hiring someone to rattle you around a bit with useful feedback in relatively safe company.

    Edit: I should add that any agency deserving of the title 'ideal' shall not offer dumb specialties.
  4. Diving Dubai

    Diving Dubai Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
    I do have a bug bear with PADI elearning with the quality of the product. The Touch software misses lots of opportunities for interactive graphics teaching basic principles , I hope that the next iteration will be much better

    Define dumb specialties.

    I have changed my opinion on this since going pro, I don't sell specialties only teach (some).

    But here is another way of viewing them

    Some divers, don't have buddies, and they're shy and introspective. Turning up at a dive centre on their own fills them with dread.

    These divers also want some more instructor time - to gain confidence, perhaps work on stuff without progressing to a full course. Specialties allow that, for some they sign up as a way of forcing themselves to go out and dive.

    Diving (IMO) should be inclusive, not everyone aspires to be an elite diver. As long as we ensure that the basic skills are sufficient and well taught, allowing progression for those who choose it, it should be covered.

    So I see a niche for specialities, and heck if a centre wants to develop a speciality that people want to undertake and there is a market for, why not. Just because "we" wouldn't take it doesn't mean the opportunity should be denied to others

    I've said this before, and its worth repeating. A diver may leave a class with all skills mastered, but these skills deteriorate if not practiced, or if the diver has no real desire to maintain the standard. It's human nature and to some extent outside of the control of anyone other than the diver. This is not an excuse for poor teaching however
  5. Vitesse2l

    Vitesse2l Contributor

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Devon UK
    My own club works well with the BSAC structure but does need a strong core team to keep the regular diving going and also manage the yearly training intake. We almost have too many qualified instructors (which is partly why I'm not going that way) along with a real depth of experience and the chance to do lots of diving - the regular stuff locally and new sites if you are willing to organise, plus trips away. Works for me at the moment anyway.

    The deco and dive planning element taught at Sport Diver I thought was really well done and can't imagine going to 30m plus depths without that knowledge or a pony.
    NothingClever likes this.
  6. NothingClever

    NothingClever ScubaBoard Sponsor ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Red Sea and Atlantic Ocean

    I agree with you. I think with a little bit closer supervision of instructors, the bad ones will be discovered and (hopefully) sidelined for re-training, benched for the season or terminated with a “never to return” letter.

    I think there is an onus on regional leaders to get out and interact with the diving community more, both instructors, new divers and seasoned divers alike.

    It’s discouraging (to me) to see good instructors go unrecognized and bad ones carry on unchecked.
    ScubaWithTurk and chillyinCanada like this.
  7. ofg-1

    ofg-1 Course Director

    They would have to have a really cool logo that would make a good patch for my jacket.
  8. NothingClever

    NothingClever ScubaBoard Sponsor ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Red Sea and Atlantic Ocean
    I agree and think this is an important aspect that has to be considered when assessing the state of the recreational SCUBA industry. I further agree that undisciplined divers can not be an excuse for instructors to slide....e.g, “Well, the students aren’t going to practice this anyways after certification so we shouldn’t establish high standards.” I suspect that line of thinking went hand in hand down the slippery slope when certifying agencies made profit the prime driver.
  9. Marie13

    Marie13 Great Lakes Mermaid ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Great Lakes
    I’m sure it’s already been mentioned: DM/instructor candidates to have more dives under their belt before they can even start the course. The minimum is remarkably low. Might stop the zero to hero stuff some. I’ve seen some disasters who are seahorses like their OW students.
  10. rongoodman

    rongoodman ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Albany, NY
    Or maybe not. I was on a trip a while back with an instructor who was recognized for having 1000 dives and he still had to wave his hands around to position himself in the water.

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