The diving industry is constantly changing. That means our classes have to evolve as well. PADI recognizes this and has always been at the fore front of diver education. Dive Utah realizes this as well and thus we try to implement changes to classes sooner rather than later. The latest change to come down the pipeline is the new and improved Open Water class. This is the third major revision to that class to come out since I have been involved in the dive industry.
Each time we see a new course it means we have to change how we teach and learn new ways to present the new information. New technologies are changing the way we send and receive information. We have a revamped book and DVD for those who want to learn the traditional way but we also have a new toy. PADI has introduced the first ever scuba course via the platform of a tablet. It is the same information as the book and DVD but integrated together similar to the old Multimedia program they had a few years ago. Anyone who has spent some time navigating around an iPad will feel very comfortable with the different swipes and drags that allow you to navigate through the different screens.
The academic information is very similar to the old class. Obviously physics doesn't change so those parts remain the same. New information about gear has been added as well as newer thoughts on safety (lifting from your knees and not with your back!). The old video had many corny jokes in it as well as clips with phrases like "divers are UNDER achievers!!" It seemed like they were trying a little too hard. The new video is pretty straight forward and will age much better. Of course some things never change. You can still play a drinking game with the number of times "your PADI instructor" or "your PADI dive center" is mentioned. There is a greater emphasis on your responsibility for your own safety. We counted about 5 references to calling a dive if you don't feel well or if the dive is beyond your comfort level. Dive tables have continued their decline as they are hardly even mentioned in the training. Dive computers are given all the space the tables once had. If you still teach the tables, it is an add on to the course.
In the pool and open water we have seen even more importance put on proper weighting, trim and buoyancy. We are getting the divers off the bottom quicker and when practical having them perform skills while neutrally buoyant. Giving them control for planning their own dives is also encouraged as they plan a mini dive in the pool as well as the final open water dive.
It is always interesting when big changes like this happen. At our local PADI member forum last month, our regional rep Barry Dunford, told us that every change you see is a response to an actual incident that has taken place. The reactions from our staff have been positive but naturally it takes 2-3 classes to get comfortable with the new curriculum. Next up, changes in the Advanced Open Water class in 2015!!