PADI eLearning is available for most courses and a lot of the times, it's a great option! Here is why!
Everyone learns differently. For a lot of people this is what made school a challenging experience. Not everyone likes to learn from a book; but at school, until recently, you didn't have much choice.
When you learn scuba diving, however, it's a bit different and it's getting even better! Most scuba diving courses have been designed with a lot of different learning support materials so that, whatever your preferred way of learning is, you are learning at your best.
In the 'old days', for most of us, the traditional way of learning how to dive was a combination of: watching videos; doing some pool sessions for skills; doing open water sessions to learn to evolve underwater (and, incidentally, see some fish); have the instructor explain-and give practical examples-of the theory; then having a book to read and homework to fill in the late afternoon/evening (more theory).
It's a lot to take in in just a few days especially when you are already exhausted from practicing skills and learning how to move under water. It's hard to digest all the new info when you're shattered.
But now, PADI has digital products available for most courses in a lot of languages, including some of the Divemaster and Instructor course. You can still do it the old way but here are a few ideas and a bit of a clarification as to why eLearning might just be the best thing since sliced bread.
Fitting more into short holidays
Most people want to pack as much fun as possible into their holiday, so spending a few hours watching videos or studying a book, as fascinating as the PADI materials might be, seems like a bit of a waste of time when you could be doing other exciting stuff like exploring secret beaches or underground temples. By having gone through all the theory before hand, you basically give yourself afternoons and evenings off during your PADI scuba course to do other amazing stuff.
Learning at your own pace, your own way
The eLearning materials get sent to you way before you do your actual dive course, which means you may have plenty of time to go over and complete the theory (instead of 3 or 4 afternoons). It means you don't have to study when you are tired from a long day and can do it in bite size chunks at your own pace , in the comfort of your own home (or anywhere else for that matter). You can take the time to go back over stuff if you want. The mixed media and interactivity are really appealing: you can zoom in on stuff, there are animations to explain the physics and other cool features. The information is identical to what is in the book and videos: for the PADI Open Water course, there are still 5 videos, 5 chapters, 5 knowledge reviews to go though (you get tested a little along the way which is helpful) and 4 quizzes and a final exam.
How does e-learning work?
First, go shopping
You buy your eLearning directly from the PADI website then register the dive shop you want to dive with or the other way around, get in touch with the dive shop of your choice (us, hopefully!) and they will register you on the eLearning then send you the connection links. It's often worth getting in touch with the dive centre first to organise the course, the price and also so you are in touch with your instructor if you get stuck on something.
Once you've got email and your code, start studying! You'll need a computer, laptop, phone or tablet and the courses are slightly different for each one. On mobile devices, you can just download the content and keep working through it even when you are offline.
Print/ send your proof of completion
Once you've completed the materials and done the quizzes and exam you will need to download and print or send your proof of completion to your dive centre. They will give you a short overview test when you arrive for the practical segment of the course to make sure you remember and have understood; and if they feel any concepts are still unclear will go over them again with you.
Can anyone sign up?
Absolutely! As long as you are happy studying on your own and have access to the required devices/ internet you can sign up. If you are unsure, discuss the pros and cons with your dive centre first. Nearly every course from PADI Open Water Diver to PADI pro levels course is available on eLearning.
What if I don't understand? Can I change your mind after signing up?
Remember this is supposed to be making your life easier. If you need support when studying it may not be for you. But remember you can jot down things you don't understand and email the dive centre or discuss them at depth with your instructor whilst doing the course. If you feel it is really too obscure for you, you can do all the reading up and watching videos in advance (the really time consuming bits and ones you would do on your own anyway) and do the corrections and exam in person with your instructor when you start the course. The materials are well designed and designed to teach you step by step; and no self-respecting instructor will let you finish the course without having understood the theory.
You can happily sign up, do the studying in advance then chill by the pool or go exploring with all the time you've freed up!
Learn at your own pace, learn in your own way and keep time for play.