If you are planning to learn to dive, the choices and advice that are available can make this seemingly simple decision overwhelmingly complex.
Initially perhaps, you are presented with a bewildering array of initials that represent training agencies, each of whom presents themselves as being your best choice. There will also be economic decisions to make as training packages are all differently presented and priced.
It is important to recognize that most people only undergo any training course once. Please bear in mind that while personal recommendation is a good criteria, people will suggest where they trained without any objective comparison.
So, how do you make sense of all this and make an informed choice?
Let's remove agency choices from the beginning. All well known training agencies will have developed an effective way of educating divers. The fact that you are reading this blog shows that you are researching your choices, and if you haven't heard of the agency that an instructor or dive center is recommending, that would suggest that they are not well known.
Far more important is the quality of the instruction that you will receive. This revolves around the dive center and/or instructor that you chose.
Learning anything new requires education. Whilst it is important for instructors to be skilled divers, this is of secondary importance in this instance to them being skilled educators. They are there to train you to dive. Years and years spent diving will enhance any instructor's abilities, but it is perhaps more critical to evaluate how much teaching they have done in their careers.
How do they run their courses? In our experience, it is preferable for there to be hands-on personal instruction. Whilst it is entirely possible to obtain key information in an online learning environment, it offers no options to discuss any issues raised, or to provide specific individual guidelines. For this reason, we recommend that theory training incorporates sessions with an educatorlr.
Instructors should center the educational process around what you need, rather than their convenience (or economics). This cuts both ways, in that you may need to be prepared to spend longer learning than you perhaps anticipate. For example, part of any learning process involves repetition, abbreviating this reduces course times, but equally reduces the effectiveness of the training. Whilst agencies will often allow for high student to instructor ratios or elearning to replace contact time, logic dictates that more individual time spent with an instructor is beneficial. However, low ratios and increased training time inevitably results in more cost.
To conclude, the process of learning to dive is an educational one and its effectiveness is directly attributable to the skill of the instructor. To get the most from your diving course, you should seek out dive centers and instructors committed to providing a learning experience that gives you the time and supervision needed to make you a confident and competent diver.