Wednesday, October 20, 2010

PADI; dedicated to making diving better for everyone. (ProfessionalAssociation of Diving Instructors). USA, LLC

Project Aware at Dive World, originally uploaded by krossbow.

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What is PADI today? Simply the largest scuba certifying and dive retailer organization in the world. It has 50 full-time employees and is an association made up of 775 member stores (the majority of dive stores in the U.S.) and over 8200 active instructors. With headquarters in Santa Ana, California, PADI has major training centers in Chicago, Illinois and San Diego, California. Both colleges train instructors with knowledge and skills in all phases of diver education; the PADI International Instructor Training Center in Chicago specializing in continuing education concepts, the PADI International College in San Diego focusing especially on the retail business aspects of diving. Programs are run in over 60 foreign countries. Branch offices are found in Canada, Japan, Sweden, Australia and Norway. The European Service Office is in Switzerland.

PADI offers certifications in basic diver, open water diver, advanced open water diver, master scuba diver, and various specialty programs. The professional membership levels are divemaster, assistant instructor, instructor, open water instructor, master scuba diver trainer and master instructor (although divemasters are optional members).

PADI has grown rapidly in the last few years. It certified 154,000 in 1982--more than all the other U.S. certification organizations combined. At this writing, the organization's certifications are up 32 percent over 1982; the 1983 total is estimated at over 190,000.

While the numbers indicate exceptional growth and a thriving association, there is much more to PADI. The real question is, "Why do so many divers choose PADI training?" Two important reasons why are: 1) the agency's philosophy, and 2) the Modular Scuba Course--cornerstone of the program.


The PADI philosophy, as originally set out by president Ralph Erickson, is to provide safe, thorough training, stressing the most important knowledge and skills. The method is to present diving as a fun activity and to present the course sequence in the manner which best accomplishes the stated desired results.

According to Al Hornsby, vice-president of education and public affairs, "It has been well-established that people learn best in small doses that advance from simple to complex, with a lot of repetition of the most important elements. In scuba diving there is a broad range of skills and information which could be presented, some of which can be extraneous, or at least not directly useful most of the time. Our beginning level courses stress the pertinent information first."

According to Hornsby, "Because our training phisolosphy is built around the concept that divers should have a series of enjoyable, educational courses available to them, it is absolutely essential that we do a good job in their first courses. We really fell that our system is dependent on customer satisfaction to be successful. Let's face it; if beginning level divers don't find their initial training to be valuable and enjoyable, and if they don't feel competent and comfortable in the water upon completion, they certainly aren't going to come back to us again. Our courses have to be good--or our system fails."

A major purpose of PADI's training sequence is to decrease diver dropout by keeping the student/diver motivated and enjoying learning more. Staying in the course progression system (basic to open water to advanced open water, etc.) expands the diver's experience in a safe, supervised way while also increasing social interactions with an increasingly larger group of more involved divers.


PADI's Modular Scuba Course is designed to accomplish these goals of optimum sequential learning and enjoyment. Course information and skill lessons are sectionalized (modular) to allow flexibility and to increase retention following the small dose/high practice concept. The course is used in the basic and open water certifications.

As the cornerstone of its educational system the Modular Course has been the prime factor in the popularity of PADI's diver training programs around the world. Sometimes misunderstood by non-PADI instructors, the Modular Course, introduced in 1978, has managed to make the transition from traditional scuba training methods--which often spent proportionately more time on non-essential academics and exercises--to a program which was more time effective, yet sacrificed none of the recognized required information and diving skills.

The Modular Course consists of an introduction/watermanship session (with watermanship evaluation--swimming, floating, etc.) followed by five course segments (modules): (I) Introduction to Diving, (II) Underwater Adaptations, (III) The Diving Environment, (IV) Effects of Depth, and (V) Review and Test. Along with these modules are five carefully sequenced pool sessions, then finally an open water familiarization session, two open water scuba dives and an optional open water skin dive. (More dives are made in the open water course.) Without going into details, the skills covered in these segments and the open water experience are similar to requirements of all other certification organizations.

What's different about the Modular Course is that the segments are designed to build gradually upon previous sessions and the lectures make major use of audio visual presentations to illustrate concepts and skills, thus shortening learning time. Emphasis is placed on hands-on practice rather than traditional lecture. According to Al Hornsby, "When you compare, hour to hour, the course we teach in the modular program with a traditional course, overall length of hours may not be quite as long . . . maybe 22, 23 or 24 hours as opposed to 30. But, if you compare the amount of time in the water practicing actual diving-related skills, you will find ours to be superior. We have less explanation time and less extraneous time. In terms of pertinent scuba skills, the Modular Course cut nothing out. Instead, we saved time by careful reorganization."

These changes were found to reinforce skill and knowledge retention and heighten student enjoyment. The result is a basic diver course which adequately prepares the diver, with a stipulation (stated on the card) that the diver must be equipped with an alternate air source. The basic diver student is informed, right from the beginning, that this certification is only the first step in scuba training, and that much remains to be learned. While the basic diver is similarly qualified to other basic divers and can certainly pursue the sport on his/her own, the PADI system encourages additional training, on an ongoing basis.

The changes in the program, rather than encouraging divers to take the least amount of training possible or to stop at the entry level, has instead encouraged divers to attain higher certifications. In 1983, while PADI's basic diver certifications decreased substantially, the open water, advanced open water, and other upper levels have shown monumental growth. In 1978, basic diver certifications were 42 percent of the PADI total. As of May 1983, basic was down to 17.6 percent; having declined every year since 1978. Currently, 81 percent of all PADI certifications are open water or higher. This constitutes a tremendous increase in diver activity, experience and safety.

While the modular program has been a major contributing factor to PADI's success, it is by no means the whole story. PADI has initiated a number of instructional/marketing programs that have taken scuba training forward by leaps and bounds.

Recently there has been a growing concern and outcry from resort operators and dive boat skippers over the issue of improperly trained or out of practice divers showing up on dives and creating a hazard for themselves and others. While the dive industry in general has grappled with this issue. PADI has taken some specific steps to correct it. At the same time, these corrective steps work toward correcting the problem of diver dropout.


The PADI Scuba Review program is designed to decrease diver dropout and increase diver safety by providing a painless method for reentry into the sport after a lengthy layoff--without recertification. Divers coming back into the sport are familiarized with the latest concepts and are refreshed on information and skills learned previously.

The program consists of a self study workbook for knowledge review. When this is complete, the diver takes a quiz which is evaluated by an instructor and discussed with the diver. Then, a scuba skills session is completed in a pool, evaluated by an instructor. At this point, the review is complete and the diver is registered at PADI Headquarters. The instructor attaches a year-dated decal to the diver's certification card.


The PADI Environmental Orientation can be the final phase to a Scuba Review or can be a separate program. A PADI divemaster, assistant instructor or instructor gives the diver an orientation to the area to be dived and then he/she is taken on a supervised dive. At the end of the dive, a decal is provided for the diver's C-card which is year-dated and indicates the type of dive accomplished: warm ocean, cold ocean or fresh water. More categories are being added.


Related to this issue is the difficulty faced by charter operators in actually determining the experience level of the divers they serve. The logbook, though an obvious answer to the problem, has proved only marginally successful in the past. The chief difficulty seems to revolve around the awkwardness of carrying the log (they have always been too large to fit in a wallet) and the bother of recording the necessary information. To combat this problem, PADI has recently introduced a revolutionary new logbook: the Credit Card Logbook. Credit card sized, but actually holding data from more dives than other common logs available (32 vs. 25), it actually fits in a plastic sleeve with the diver's C-card and a credit card dive table. The entire package fits easily in a wallet. Additionally, the necessary dive information is easily recorded in check-off boxes; each page also contains a dive profile computation form.


PADI divers have a host of specialty certifications available to them--37 at this point and more added all the time. (An advanced open water diver picking up five of these specialties plus a divemaster or rescue diver course is eligible for the master scuba diver rating.) Some examples of these specialty subjects are wreck diving, underwater photography, ice diving, research diving and equipment specialist. There are a number of standard specialties and also distinctive specialties which allow instructors with expertise in very particular types of activity, after PADI course outline approval, to offer this instruction.


For each level of training accomplished, including specialty ratings and distinctive specialty ratings, a PADI diver gets a certification card with his/her picture on the back--the Positive Identification Card--the first such card created in the diving industry. PADI has a unique, double entry computer system for certification card processing. After the correct information is entered into the system, the student's history file is created and then the computer prints out the C-card along with the validation card (a permament record). The C-card, with picture, is then laminated and returned to the diver b y computer printed label. The whole process averages only a three day turnaround at headquarters. Replacing a lost card is even easier.


Dive stores and resorts utilizing the PADI training system are eligible to qualify as PADI Training Facilities. These facilities must meet certain standards of business operations. A Training Facility can further qualify for rating as a Five Star Facility. The Five Star rating system identifies excellence in five areas of business: pure air, scuba service, community involvement, educational proficiency and business ethics. Even after a facility is able to meet the stringent standards, the Five Star Facility is continually evaluated to ensure the facility continues to maintain Five Star excellence. In patronizing the Five Star Facility, divers know what to expect from the store in terms of quality, service and education.


PADI has five Regional Training Coordinators (RTC). These are full-time professional field representatives. Their areas in the U.S. are: western, southeastern, northeastern, and midwest. There is a combined foreign area of Europe, Africa and the Indian subcontinent. (A fifth U.S. RTC is scheduled to be added in 1984). These coordinators ar paid PADI staff members with extensive retail/management background and strong instructional experience. They assist in the implementation and quality control of programs at training facilities and work with an in-house business consultant to help dive stores in business matters and serve as the local membership's liaison with headquarters. The RTC's help headquarter keep closely in touch with what is happening in diving and the need for new programs or materials.


PADI's sensitivity to the latest trends in diving and divers isn't limited to the RTCs. The agency is constantly conducting market research of its own through surveys of its divers, members, and training facilities. "PADI spends more time on market research than anybody in the diving business," said Hornsby. "We don't feel PADI should wait to find out what trends are developing in the field; instead we actively search out the needs and create the programs to meet those needs."

When a necessary program or potential problem is uncovered in the field, PADI can act on it. With respect to exerting influence externally, PADI often sponsors symposiums and contests such as the Annual U/W Photography Search/Competition. The RTCs conduct instructor educational seminars (64 in 1983) and other members of the headquarters staff conduct retail management programs.

The headquarters structure also allows quick reaction. The board of directors makes long term decisions, but the executive committee, meeting monthly, acts on more immediate needs; such as the implementation of a new program or production of support materials. The daily decisions are the responsibility of Al Hornsby and Gary Prenovost, vice-president, finance and operations.

PADI is an educational organization which reinvests all monies generated back into development and maintenance of its programs. It does not hold a tax exempt status, however. Thus, the management is based on the corporate concept and is not a voting democracy. This status also preserves PADI's legal right to lobby on political issues affecting diving. PADI is the only diving certification organization which is a member of the National Ocean Industry Association, which lobbies in Washington, D.C..


The physical facilities at PADI Headquarters also simplify program implementation. In addition to the computerized filing system, PADI maintains an in-house publishing system; with computerized typesetting, capable of carrying textbooks and other publications from inception through to completion (in a matter if weeks, if need be), excluding color separations and the actual printing. This keeps the cost of production down tremendously and thus keeps the cost of materials to the consumer lower. The bulk of PADI's current educational programs are now written by Alex Brylske.

In addition to a host of support materials, including audio/visual series and texts such as the PADI Diver Manual and Advanced Diver Manual, PADI produces four regular publications. The Undersea Journal, Dive Industry News, and Diving Ventures are all published four times a year. The Retail Dive Travel Handbook is produced twice a year. The Undersea Journal (four color) has news topics, diving medical research information, discussions of new programs, editorials, surveys and even employment listings for instructors. Diving Ventures (also four color) is the publication for members of the PADI Diving Society--Diving Ventures International. Diving Ventures has an extensive calendar section listing dive events, training courses and travel programs offered by dive stores all over the world and a resort guide in every issue. The resorts featured, called Resort Destinations, have been inspected by staff members prior to publication. DVI members receive discount coupons usable at those resort as well at PADI Training Facilities. Dive Industry News, known as the trade journal of the diving industry, has editorials and articles on dive business and is sent free of charge each quarter to all dive stores, manufacturers and dive travel operators. The Retail Dive Travel Handbook allows dive store owners to quickly provide divers with all the needed information to choose quality diving resort destinations and to actually help them with their vacation bookings. It has the retail information on the resorts featured in Diving Ventures.


PADI is not resting on past achievements. New projects are constantly being developed. For example, the agency has just introduced a new Diver Rescue Manual. It has been reviewed by the medical community and evaluated as state-of-the-art. PADI expects to introduce a divemaster leadership manual soon, as well as other books and products. Also, the PADI Diver Manual is currently being translated into Dutch, German, French, Italian, Swedish, and Norwegian (it's already in Japanese and Spanish).


In summary, PADI has found a way to incorporate the needs of the modern diver into its programs while maintaining high training standards. Active divers are safer divers, and PADI keeps divers active and hungry to learn more.

Source Citation
Walker, Jim. "PADI; dedicated to making diving better for everyone." Skin Diver Jan. 1984: 56+. General OneFile. Web. 20 Oct. 2010.
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Gale Document Number:A3071456

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