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Dive Training Agency Apps Review (Watch Videos)

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With mobile apps being the most convenient way for many people to keep up with their interests anywhere and anytime, it’s not surprising that divers and prospective divers are looking to access information from their training agencies via apps as well, even before the time of COVID-19!  This has not gone unnoticed by the training agencies, many of whom have come out with apps and e-learning to meet the increasing demand. There are now easy to use apps for dive logs, shop recommendations and e-learning, perfect for divers traveling around the world to enjoy their sport.

Here at Bimble In The Blue we have tested out the various apps to see what’s hot and what’s not on behalf of Scubaverse.  Our first task was to see what was available from the main training agencies: PADI, SSI, BSAC, SDI, RAID and NAUI.

SSI, SDI, and RAID all have apps with access to e-learning.  The NAUI app has basic functions but no e-learning.  PADI has multiple apps and BSAC and SDI don’t currently offer mobile apps.


SSI

The MySSI app has SSI Digital Learning materials, certification cards, a digital dive log, news and a dive centre locator.  On opening the app the main page is attractive and easy to follow with all functions listed in a drop-down menu.

Some of the sections require a login to unlock all the content including academic training materials for Try Scuba, Try Freediving, snorkelling and Scuba Diver programmes and the Blue Oceans environmental awareness program, it will also give you access to digital certification card sections, allowing qualified divers a permanent record of their qualifications (from any agency).  Registering is free of charge and requires a name, email address and DOB, your then choose a dive centre to be affiliated with, you can have multiple centres or change at a later date.

The tables tab has safety accident management and diving tables which we found to be a very sensible and useful feature.  The digital dive log also includes a Buddies tab to connect with fellow SSI divers. The Events and More section features news stories from the SSI blog(with a nice mix of scuba-related subjects), Videos (a mix of how to, training, and general dive interest content), and Events (which strangely enough did not list any information for us).  Finally, the app has a feedback option to comment on its design or technical issues as well as training course reviews.  We were generally impressed with the layout and all-in-one nature of the MySSI app.

Things We Liked:

  •    Lots of useful features, well laid out and easy to navigate
  •    Dive Center Locator was intuitive and fast to use
  •    The app is a true one-stop shop, with e-Learning and other features all in the same place
  •    Feedback option
  •    Good quality training videos and content
  •    Website registration is easy and straightforward

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • The Events and More section was not as organised, with some content in random order, which stood out when compared with the rest of the app features.

RAID

The LearnToScuba app is a simple but well-organised app for RAID divers.  Once a website registration process is completed, users can log into the app to use a variety of features.  These include a tab for ongoing e-learning courses, a digital dive logbook, a section for digital documents and forms, a link to e-cards, and a personal profile.  All of these can be accessed via the app or on the RAID website as the data is synced.  Navigating the app with its user-friendly blue on white theme was very easy.

Things We Liked:

  •   The app interface is uncluttered and very easy to navigate
  •   There is a good variety of useful charts and tables in the documents tab

Things We Didn’t Like:

  •   The app has no dive centre locator
  •   The website registration process didn’t work for us the first time around
  •   No landscape mode!

NAUI

The NAUI app is fairly basic but straightforward. Besides the Home page, there are tabs for News, Profile, Certifications, Locator, and Dive Tools.

We thought the news section was nicely focused on NAUI-related events and happenings.  The Profile tab lets you update your personal account information.  Certifications tab displays any NAUI credentials you might have.  The locator is snappy and lets you search for dive centres or dive professionals (in table format … as there is no map included), as well as verify a NAUI dive pro by member number or name.  The Dive Tools section includes breathing gas calculators, dive tables, and an individual dive log (with manual entry required).  The breathing gas calculators in particular were very handy to have and intuitive to use with sliders.  Use of the app requires a registration on the NAUI website, which was quick and easy.  There is no e-learning functionality in the app … that is handled through the NAUI website.

Things We Liked:

  •   The app is streamlined and very easy to navigate
  •   The dive tools were useful

Things We Didn’t Like:

  •   The app functionality is limited compared with other agencies (i.e. no integrated e-learning)

PADI

Unlike other agencies, PADI offers multiple apps with different functionality.  The basic app is called PADI – Scuba Diving Essentials, while the PADI Library is the repository for all e-Learning classes.  PADI Training is for professionals completing e-learning for the IDC.

The PADI – Scuba Diving Essentials is essentially a replication of the website for the homepage and there are buttons for locator (dive centre and dive site), social, tools, training, eCards, pros, travel and gear which is easy to navigate.  Despite the attractive homepage the substance was somewhat inconsistent; some of the categories open up and work well, like the locator feature, while others like the training tab open an entirely different app or prompt the install of another app, such as PADI Library.  The issue here lies in that some sections require your PADI Login and others a ScubaEarth login, rather than a single sign in.  Apparently PADI is retiring their ScubaEarth brand (formerly a dive logbook and locator) and has incorporated those features into the Scuba Diving Essentials app.

The PADI Library app, on the other hand, is easy to use and full of excellent learning materials.  It is the class leader for scuba e-Learning content.

We thought the PADI apps look nice and have some high quality content once you are able to access the appropriate sections in their apps, but the PADI – Scuba Diving Essentials app did not feel particularly cohesive in comparison with others we have reviewed.

Things We Liked:

  •  Homepage looks good and is easy to navigate
  •  Same very good quality training content and videos we are used to from PADI, now made available in elearning form in PADI Library.
  • The dive tools has a good and useful range of options.

Things We Didn’t Like:

  •  Each apps functionality is limited compared with other agencies, you must have multiple apps to access all the options.  One app, with a single sign in would be nicer to use.

Conclusion

So there you have it: our review of the major training agencies’ mobile apps.  No matter your level of experience, all of them offer features that can help you be a safer, better, and more organised scuba diver.  There’s no reason not to download and use the app from your appropriate agency; who knows, it might come in handy at the right time!


For more from CJ and Mike please visit their website here.

CJ and Mike are dive instructors who have travelled all over the world pursuing their passion for the underwater world. CJ is a PADI MI and DSAT Trimix instructor with a degree in Conservation biology and ecology, who has been diving for 15 years. She loves looking for critters and pointing them out for Mike to photograph. Mike is a PADI MSDT who got back into diving in 2010. He enjoys practicing underwater photography and exploring new and exciting dive locales, occasionally with more than one tank. Follow more of their diving adventures at www.bimbleintheblue.com.

Dive Training Blogs

Deptherapy returns to its Roots – Part 6

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Join Richard Cullen from Deptherapy for part 6 of his Blog about the charity’s recent expedition to Roots Red Sea, El Quseir, Egypt.

Thursday has dawned and it is down to the House Reef with an outgoing tide that is approaching slack so we can get in the water straight away.   Lots of chat about last night’s RAID O2 Provider session with Moudi.  Oatsie is talking about sidemounts and marine biology, Swars is looking forward to his first sidemount session this afternoon.

Moudi is supported by Oatsie this morning and doing some more skill work with Keiron.

Moudi running the guys through the RAID O2 Administrator Course

Corey was asking last night about what it is like at 30 metres, so I have decided that with Michael and Swars we will take him to 30 metres.  We are going to run a narcosis exercise so out comes the slate with the numbers 1 – 25 randomly placed in squares.  Corey’s task, in the dive centre, is as quickly as possible to touch each number in sequence.  He does it pretty quickly and Michael briefs him that he will need to do the same exercise at 30 metres.

Michael briefs the dive and we set off down the beach.  Corey has improved beyond measure and he is becoming a pleasure to dive with.  So we are off to follow the South reef to 30 metres where we will complete the second part of the exercise.

At 30 metres Michael hands Corey the slate; there is a considerable difference in the time to complete the exercise at the surface and at 30 metres.  There are lots of mitigating factors in how quickly you can identify the numbers and explaining a slower time at 30 metres than at the surface does not mean an individual is suffering from narcosis.  Identifying random numbers, if you run the exercise at the surface, several times with an individual over a number of hours can result in wide variations in the time taken to complete the exercise.

We finish the dive with Corey smiling from ear to ear and we have a discussion about depth and air consumption.  The second dive of the morning is a fun dive, then it is lunch in the beach restaurant.  After the burgers I am sure we will need to look at our weighting before the afternoon’s dive.

We will need to look at weighting after this lunch!

Corey and Keiron have got into the habit of recording their dives online using the RAID online log book which is a tremendous facility and as the instructor I can access that data.

Moudi and Keiron are going for a fun dive as are Corey, Oatsie, Michael and myself. Swars is getting kitted up for the first experience of sidemount with Guy Henderson.

Swars getting to grips with his sidemount cylinders

People often look at the relationships that exist between the dive team and our beneficiaries and try to extrapolate a similar relationship to disabled students they might have.  Our relationships are built up over a period of time, in some cases over many years.  We also provide 24/7 support and have chat groups etc on social media; we also meet up socially when we can.  It is somewhat different than a individual coming in to a dive centre and saying ‘I want to dive’. Your relationship is likely to be the same as any other student, you will teach them, they might stay with the dive centre or like many that will go on holiday to do some diving, you might never see them again.

Our main aim is to create a family atmosphere for our programme members, one where they feel secure and they are able to discuss freely with the team and fellow beneficiaries their feelings and needs.

Few dive centres are charities, and owners might want to consider costs of running a course for someone with a disability that might take more than the standard four pool sessions etc.  You may find the number of sessions and the staffing levels have to increase.  Many dive centres, because of their size and turnover are exempt from providing accessibility.  How will this affect someone who is a wheelchair user?  Can they gain access to the dive centre, the classroom, the toilet?  What are the changing facilities, can they get wheelchair access to the pool?

Lots of things to think about.

Roots’ beautiful reef

The reef is beautiful, so much aquatic life and the corals look splendid, especially the pinnacles.

A good day’s diving, Swars has really enjoyed his sidemount.

Lovely way to relax in the evening with the Roots BBQ, a fitting end to a great day.

Last day tomorrow and our final blog!


Find out more about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education at www.deptherapy.co.uk

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Dive Training Blogs

Deptherapy returns to its Roots – Part 5

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Join Richard Cullen from Deptherapy for part 5 of his Blog about the charity’s recent expedition to Roots Red Sea, El Quseir, Egypt.

After an evening of chilling out by the pool and in the bar, we are back to the Roots House Reef this morning, with Keiron continuing his RAID Master Rescue Diver Course and enjoying Moudi’s vast experience as he learns more about advanced buoyancy skills.

Not sure where the week has gone; it’s Wednesday already.  A few different things happening today… Oatsie who has just started at Hull University on a Marine Biology Degree Course wants to complete his sidemount course and this afternoon he is out with Guy Henderson to start his learning.  Swars also wants to do the course, as he wants to get into cavern and cave diving.  Swars will start his course tomorrow afternoon and both will spend a day being taught be Steve Rattle on Friday. Hopefully they will both be certified as RAID Sidmount Divers at the end of their training.

Tom putting his sidemount rig together under Guy’s watchful eye

The morning sees Swars and I working with Corey again and taking him through the remainder of skills and OW dives.  He is improving massively but we still have to work on trim and propulsion.

Keiron, unfortunately for him, has Oatsie and Michael for his diver recovery exercises; I am told there may well be an entanglement to deal with!

Conditions are perfect again as we all look forward to three great dives during the day.

90% of those we work with have mental health issues, mainly Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of serving in various theatres of war.  If you read some adaptive teaching manuals, they have a task to ‘teach a student with PTSD a skill.’ Hmmmmm how is Oatsie, Swars, Michael or Keiron any different than a student who is free from any mental illness?  The answer is they are not, they are exactly the same. Do you talk to them differently, do you demonstrate skills differently?  The answer is no.

If they have a flashback or a panic attack, then you need to step back and provide whatever assistance is necessary but only if there is a risk of them hurting themselves.  All our team have to undertake and pass the two-day Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course so we can intervene appropriately where the circumstances require it.

Do you know what a panic attack looks like?  Do you know how to respond to a panic attack?

Flashbacks most frequently occur at night time but some do experience day time flashbacks.  Flashbacks can lead to the individual feeling physically and mentally drained and can be triggered by anything that reminds them of the traumatic incident(s) they experienced.  Sometimes there might be a need for one of our medical team to be involved. Often a period of quietness, rest and possibly sleep is required.

Keiron and Corey on the House Reef

We have seen lots of our beneficiaries learn to manage their PTSD. As Chris Middleton said on a BBC programme:

“You can’t beat PTSD but you can learn to manage it.”

In addition to the scuba diving, Deptherapy also provides 24/7 support for our beneficiaries.  Beneficiaries are encouraged to attend the MHFA course with their partner, parent, relative or friend.

Many will have read comments from our beneficiaries, that once they put their heads under the water their demons disappear.  There are several factors to this: the peace, the quiet and the tranquillity that occurs underwater, the beauty of the corals and the amazing aquatic life.

Roots is very much like a retreat for us, we are miles away from any towns, there are no distractions, the nearest town is El Quseir, which is orthodox Muslim so there is no alcohol on sale.  The recent bypass of the main Safaga to El Quesir/Marsa Alam road means that at night time there is no noise, just a brilliant star lit sky.

Roots at night from the beach

Beneficiaries are encouraged to talk openly with the team and their fellow beneficiaries about their injuries/illnesses and provide overwhelming support for each other as Corey found on this trip.

Our aim is to create a family atmosphere and Roots very much contributes to the sense of family and wellbeing.

Sadly, we live in a world where those with mental illnesses are largely discriminated against.  Because few understand mental health, they are fearful of it and try to ignore it.  Please look at the Mind website or even better sign up to a Mental Health First Aid Course.  If you run a business then run the course for your staff, the benefits will be massive.

Back to the diving, Michael and Tom under Moudi’s close supervision gave Keiron some very challenging diver recovery exercises.  Poor Keiron, but he responded tremendously.

Swars, is working well with Corey, ensuring horizontal trim and making sure he uses effective arm strokes for his swimming. We are organising an SMB session, so he can work with different types of SMBs.

Although we haven’t told him, he has finished all his skills but we still have work to do on his trim and propulsion.  We want him to go beyond standards, we want him to be a very competent diver, who despite his devastating injuries, can self-rescue and support a buddy if in need.

The afternoon dive sees Michael joining myself and Swars with Corey.  This dive is about buoyancy, trim and propulsion.  Keiron is doing some more advanced buoyancy work with Moudi.

All roads lead to Roots, is this the future of Google maps?

Oatsie had a great dive with Guy using sidemounts and is looking forward to completing the sidemount course with Swars and Steve Rattle on Friday.

In the evening, and before dinner, Moudi runs the RAID O2 Administrator Course for all five beneficiaries. It is a qualifying part of Keiron’s RAID Master Rescue Diver course but we decided it would benefit all of the guys.

Tomorrow we have decided to take Corey to 30 metres and for him to complete a narcosis test. Join us back here tomorrow to find out how we get on…


Find out more about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education at www.deptherapy.co.uk

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