PADIs new multi-media CD-ROM training course for open water certification takes you into a classroom, pool, equipment area and travel center before you even get wet. Its packed with more than 200 minutes of video and loads of full color graphics, all complemented by an informative text that takes new divers toward certification and beyond.
Does all this technology replace the dive instructor? No. It does, however, give students a headstart, gets them in the proper mindset and aligns their thinking with whats expected of them during training, which, in turn, makes the instructors job easier. As with any activity, scuba must be learned by doing. To hit a golf ball you must swing a club, to dive you must get wet. With that in mind, I reviewed this CD-ROM with several brand new PADI divers who had just finished the course without using it.
After loading the CD-ROM, the first graphic to appear is the virtual Dive Center. From here, we navigate by clicking on various doors, equipment, etc., to go to the Classroom, Pool, Equipment Rentals, a Travel Center and more. We started where they had started, in the Classroom.
As we clicked through module after module and lesson after lesson, exploring the many interactive videos and colorful graphics (the graphics in the book are in black and white; in the CD-ROM, color), the new divers all agreed: The CD-ROM would definitely have been much easier and more beneficial to use than the book. Not that the book had shortcomings (in fact, the book and classroom portions of the CD-ROM are structured identically and use the same illustrations) but the multimedia interactivity and visual explanations and explorations made the subject matter much easier to comprehend and the material much more engaging. My informal study group all wished their basic packets had included the CD.
The next area we clicked to from the virtual Dive Center was the Pool. They all found this a useful learning tool. It allowed them to see not only what skills they were expected to execute but they saw divers actually do them correctly and confidently. The pool skills were apparently a stumbling block for several of my new friends. They noted it would have helped to see that what was being asked of them was not really as frightening as it seemed.
One of the pressing concerns of these newly certified divers was: What kind of equipment should I buy?
To answer that question we clicked back to the virtual Dive Center. Here, you can click on a variety of equipment, from wetsuits to fins to dive bags. PADIs Open Water CD-ROM offers up some sage advice on gear selection; features, uses, types, pros and cons for a complete set-up. My divers spent more time here than anywhere else and said this feature alone made the CD worth the price. Knowing what gear to buy is difficult in a world gone mad with marketing, especially when you dont have the knowledge to be a savvy purchaser. The Equipment Area helps new divers to become savvy shoppers; ultimately that knowledge will make them safer divers as well.
Other click-to areas included a demonstration of an airfill station, a section on rental equipment and a Travel Center, which contains a short collage of video clips from different areas of the world.
Overall my group decided the CD-ROM was a valuable and helpful tool for Open Water certification and equipment knowledge. The production values of the video and graphics were top-notch and ease of use was a big plus.
There are both MAC and PC versions. The Open Water Diver CD-ROM package comes with a Recreational Dive Planner and Log Book pages for $59.95.
For information, write to PADI at 1251 East Dyer Road, No. 100, Santa Ana, CA 92705; (714) 540-7234.