Specialty courses

To discuss recreational diving, training, standards and continuing education.

What specialty course would you most want to do (assuming that you've done none)?

Altitude
0
No votes
AWARE - Coral Reef Conservation
0
No votes
AWARE - Fish ID
0
No votes
Boat
0
No votes
Cavern
2
11%
Deep
3
17%
Diver Propulsion Vehicle
0
No votes
Drift
0
No votes
Drysuit
0
No votes
Enriched Air
5
28%
Equipment Specialist
0
No votes
Ice
1
6%
Multilevel
0
No votes
Night
1
6%
Peak Performance Buoyancy
0
No votes
Search & Recovery
0
No votes
Semi-Closed Rebreather
0
No votes
Underwater Naturalist
0
No votes
Underwater Navigator
1
6%
Underwater Photogrpaher
1
6%
Underwater Videographer
0
No votes
Wreck Diver
4
22%
 
Total votes : 18

Specialty courses

Postby Andy » Wed Apr 23, 2008 3:25 pm

Haven't had a poll for a while!

It was interesting that at the PADI Member Forum in Auckland the other evening that the top five specialities in NZ were listed. I didn't think the list of most popular courses would really reflect a typical divers interests, so just curious now.

Any comments on what you think would make the course you want to do of real value to you and your diving?
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Re: Specialty courses

Postby Xman » Wed Apr 23, 2008 8:23 pm

Like you Andy, I suspect that the most frequently taken specialties more accurately portray the focus of dive ops and the easiest logistics than the most popular. There is also likely to be a significant difference in the cost of the accompanying dives which influences popularity.
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Re: Specialty courses

Postby Andy » Sat Apr 26, 2008 9:04 pm

I have to agree, X...

One of the "most popular" specialties was Boat Diver - in NZ, where kids seem to learn to put on a lifejacket before they can walk, is ridiculous.

Maybe it's popular because it's only two dives, and the dives have no skills as such.... and that makes it cheap for a dive centre to offer?

I've not posted as I wanted a little bit of time for some results to come in - but it's interestng to compare the (limited) poll results to the five specialties that I enjoy teaching the most - wreck, deep, night, EANx & Photography,
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Re: Specialty courses

Postby alijtaylor » Sun Apr 27, 2008 8:36 am

I've done nitrox and will do wreck and would do PPB if I knew it was going to be well done, but nothing else on the list interests me - Andy didn't include Self Reliant Diver. I wonder how much money NZ operations make from specialities - I would not have thought it was much.

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Re: Specialty courses

Postby DiveDiva » Sun Apr 27, 2008 9:10 am

No and I think the uptake is relatively low in NZ.

I personally love the concept - I would never have dived without an instructor on my first night dive for instance, and now I love night diving. The cost is definitely a factor although if the courses are marketed and instructed well, this should always attract divers.
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Re: Specialty courses

Postby alijtaylor » Sun Apr 27, 2008 9:49 am

I got my first deep dive and night dives as a part of the Advanced course and I would imagine that is the same for a lot of divers.

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Re: Specialty courses

Postby Andy » Sun Apr 27, 2008 11:33 am

alijtaylor wrote:I've done nitrox and will do wreck and would do PPB if I knew it was going to be well done, but nothing else on the list interests me - Andy didn't include Self Reliant Diver. I wonder how much money NZ operations make from specialities - I would not have thought it was much.


PPB (on steroids) is kinda included in the Self-Reliant Diver course, Alison... I'm still planning to be in Wellington in January, so I wouldn't shell out for a bad PPB course.

It's a shame that PPB is normally not taught too well, it's a great little course really.
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Re: Specialty courses

Postby dirchas » Mon Apr 28, 2008 12:39 am

I agree with Andy - PPB is (if taught well) probably the most essential tool a diver needs. It's justa shame that most agencies don't do a better job of skilling OW divers in this area. I'm sure if good assent / decent rates were taught the incidences of diving related injuries would be better for it.

Plus being able to drift along a beautful wall at the knights is something everyone should get top experience :D

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Re: Specialty courses

Postby Andy » Mon Apr 28, 2008 9:27 am

dirchas wrote:It's justa shame that most agencies don't do a better job of skilling OW divers in this area. I'm sure if good assent / decent rates were taught the incidences of diving related injuries would be better for it.



Same old story... partly "it's not the agency, it's the instructor", but even then there's only so much you can do in a few weekends.

With an OW student, I'm quite happy if they can cope with all the mask skills well and are properly weighted at the end of the course. Sure, they should have the basics of trim and buoyancy control - but it's easy to forget that new divers are stressed to the nines just about being underwater! Once they done a few dives and can relax a bit, then it's a bit easier to teach the rest.

For my private students, I offer a free PPB class at the end of their OW - calculating a students RMV before and after the class is enough for them to see the benefit of doing it!!
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Re: Specialty courses

Postby DiveDiva » Mon Apr 28, 2008 9:43 am

As I recall, on my OW course at Stoney Cove, our instructor tagged on PPB at the end (at no extra cost or at very little extra cost) So we, in effect, did 3 OW training dives on day 1, 1 on day 2 and then PPB. It was quite useful to be able to focus on the buoyancy side of things so soon after learning to dive.
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Re: Specialty courses

Postby Andy » Mon Apr 28, 2008 9:59 am

Doing it straight after is actually pretty tough! I like to get students out for a day's diving and having some fun, whilst also measuring RMV for them (circumspectly).

A buoyancy clinic in the pool is invaluable... depending on how you interpret standards, there are lot of skills that can be taught much more easily. So for example, one of the concepts in the buoyancy clinic described in the course outline is something like to "maintain position and move forwards and backwards with minimial hand sculling or fin kicking". In a pool, it's pretty easy to bring in backward kicks, helicopter turns and other key manouevering skills. These are almost impossible to teach in open water as you do need to talk to the students and critique their technique and tell them what they are doing wrong (and right, of course!).

The other thing I love about PPB as a specialty is that "Additional dives (confined or open water training) may be added
at the discretion of the PADI Instructor conducting the specialty course" - great, I can introduce other skills on other dives.... descent and ascent skills, better buoyancy games etc etc.

What annoys me about the course is that DMs may conduct the buoyancy clinic, and AIs can teach the course - and that every PADI instructor automatically qualifies to teach it. I'm sure that there are some very capable DMs and AIs out there, just as there are some very incapable instructors.... but let's add some value here... let's make this course what it should be.
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Re: Specialty courses

Postby DiveDiva » Mon Apr 28, 2008 10:13 am

To be fair a lot of that had to do with limited access to the dive site and the fact we had already paid the entrance fee. Also, the course wasn't expensive so I thought why not!

And I reckon it helped my in-water confidence a bit...

I agree that buoyancy clinics are an extremely good idea - especially for when you buy new gear or change the configuation somehow. When I first learnt to dive, it took me almost 9 months of weekly dives to get anywhere close to what I understood to be neutral buoyancy! Even recently when I tried out me new drysuit, I had some difficulties (which I seem to have sorted now thankfully).
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Re: Specialty courses

Postby Andy » Mon Apr 28, 2008 10:33 am

It wasn't a criticism, DD. From the diver perspective, any diving is good. It's just tough from an instructional point of view to deliver the course to it's full potential in that way.

I blame the Cours Director who did my instructor training, but I'm big on giving value to student divers. When PPB is taught to the standards, the whole standards and nothing but the standards.... oooooh, a student has shown me that they can fin pivot and hover for a minute.

Most instructors I've seen - and there are a few exceptions - don't read the course outline to any depth. They miss the whole discussion of trim, of weighting distribution etc. They miss the "buoyancy games add ons" that are allowed, and indeed encouraged, in open water. PPB1 is often simply "visualise -> buoyancy check -> fin pivot -> hover -> safety stop -> buoyancy check".

Sorry, this course is my personal soapbox. I think this is a great little course that is undervalued.
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Re: Specialty courses

Postby Azza » Mon Apr 28, 2008 10:39 am

Personally I think there shouldn’t need to be a PPB course...it should be taught in Open Water. (Here I go again being controversial - actually it shouldnt be a controversial subject)
Yes Andy I do agree with you on OW students having a lot on their plate but if more time is spent in the pool concentrating on buoyancy AND on having fun (I.E. buoyancy games and challenges) and class sizes are reduced and not rushed through as fast as possible it is entirely possible...I know this because I have done it.

On my very last OW course I taught, 3 OW students of mine on dive 4 did a free ascent in murkyish water in Wellington down 16 metres perfectly horizontal in the water column actually controlling their descent (they had to keep within half a metre depth wise of myself) and all arriving at the same time, all stopping half a metre above the bottom and hovered there...while the divemaster (was actually an instructor-one of those that has the card but never taught) got lost on the way down then had to surface, find our bubbles and follow us back down to then flounder on the bottom kicking up silt. As the only two tasks on that dive were the hover for one minute and mask remove and replace they stayed hovering while one at a time they removed their masks and replaced them. Sure their buoyancy went a little funky at that stage and one may have crashed into the ground (I had hold of his gauge so he wasn't going anywhere) but for dive 4 that was brilliant. We then spent another 30 minutes just cruising around diving (something that I didn’t do on my own cert course).

The other problem I see is that most of the skills are taught on their knees so when they get into the real diving world if they need to remove and replace their mask, or share air or whatever, they could in fact be doing it for the first time on their own in midwater. Isn’t it better that their first time doing these skills in mid water is under the supervision of an instructor?
I agree at first they need to be on their knees or lying down to have some stability while they get used to the underwater world but surely all the applicable skills should be redone after the last pool session with the divers hovering or swimming?
The only reason students are constantly taught on their knees is actually for the instructor’s piece of mind to know they are not floating off somewhere whilst s/he is busy evaluating a skill.

Personally I think it all comes down to reducing class sizes, time and more importantly playtime. If you give students a few hours over the period of an OW course to simply play games and play with their buoyancy most will get it without any extra input from the instructor. If you set challenges they will have a go. With a formal skill that can fail them in the class, students tend to put more pressure on themselves to get it right first time which can often make them more nervous. If you give them an informal challenge that has no “formal” result they will have a go and enjoy it because it doesn’t “matter” to them if they get it or not. It also makes it more fun and we all know when we are having fun we will keep going (that’s why there are so many babies around right :lol: )

I frequently tried to get as much play time together for my OW students as I could and would often play myself (I know you like to do this too Andy) and the students would try to copy me. If I swam around doing the frog kick next thing all my students would be trying to do the frog kick which in turn gives you a chance to show them how to do it. I used to practice BCD remove and replace underwater while hovering horizontal and most of my students would have a go as well (we used a 2 metre deep pool so no real biggie if they wiped out). Some got it, some didn’t, but the important thing was that they had a go and it was like a challenge to them…a goal for future diving even.
Dive sticks are another good one. You can buy them in the warehouse for cheap as chips and you throw them in the pools and get the students to free dive down for them and the goal is to collect as many as you can without touching the bottom. Then you can get them to do it in scuba without touching the bottom and while frog kicking only.

Of course this isn't really profitable for shops to do unless they start charging the same as your fundies course or more really. This part of the reason why we started SODS...
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Re: Specialty courses

Postby Azza » Mon Apr 28, 2008 10:46 am

Andy wrote:PPB1 is often simply "visualise -> buoyancy check -> fin pivot -> hover -> safety stop -> buoyancy check".


I think thats how 90% of instructors see every course. If it's not bold in the manual its not important. Chug them through as fast as you can....
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