E-Learning is changing the way the next generation – the digital generation - become divers. I am from a sepia childhood before mobile phones and social media and I still struggle to know my a**e from my elbow when it comes to vlogging, Influencers and Tik-Tok. I am that woman who once had to visit a library and use a Fiche machine to do school research but who now spends far too many hours scrolling through funny dog videos on a device that can switch on her kettle!
E-Learning brings the underwater realm onto your sofa. It allows the flexibility of learning at your own pace, in bite-size self-study morsels, without the pressure of keeping up with others. The materials are interactive and well-designed and to top it all off – all the info is downloadable onto a biscuit thin tablet. You can ditch the boring classroom environment and study with your dog, in the park or even in the work khazi should you so wish.
While I LOVED my Open Water course - which was completed in a nice tropical country – I was one of 5 students and not the sharpest tool in the box. Four days out of a two-week holiday sounded like an age to be studying and doing homework in the evenings. The classroom had no aircon, hard wooden chairs and a dusty video cassette recorder which made the TV flicker and the sound go up and down to inaudible levels. Those old Open Water videos were just a little cheesy, and my mind wandered in and out, aching to be floating in the cool swimming pool outside the window. I couldn’t get out the door quick enough to go and do something practical!
Many years later, when I decided to go pro, I bought my instructor manual from an actual shop where I chatted to a real human shopkeeper. I spent the next 40 minutes cursing its bulk on the humid London Tube - it was sooooo heavy. Along with my equipment, I had to pay for extra luggage allowance to carry it all the way to Sharm el Sheikh. During my Instructor Development Course, the repeated thudding noise of those manuals rang out as my six colleagues and I turned their pages in the classroom. That manual became a handy door stop for more years before sadly ending up in landfill, where modern multimedia doesn’t!
The convenience of e-Learning takes away the burden of homework at inconvenient times; gone is the embarrassment of being the last one to complete a quiz and perhaps have their wrong answers highlighted in front of others; no more do you need to remember 45 minutes of a video section to complete a review successfully; failure is no longer an option as incorrect answers just become another opportunity to review parts of a theory section. Your local dive centre is there to support you should you have any burning questions that the multimedia doesn’t answer, and you can request to Zoom or Facetime an instructor for further assistance.
During the pandemic and its associated lockdowns, many of us have used the opportunity of more free time/time at home to learn or simply just read more. While we have been unable to step into our fins, online scuba learning has flourished and will result in many more highly knowledgeable new divers. For student divers who may have lost their job or been furloughed, e-learning doesn’t require you to put down full payment for a course and, financially, has kept many dive centres going. In April 2020 the RAID training agency even began to offer FREE e-Learning to get more people interested in diving. You can start reading any course that interests you, with no restrictions.