The Padi Open Water Diver Course is probably the most popular dive course completed in terms of numbers. The entry level course has evolved over the years into a state of art dive course with various options to suit peoples varied preferences.
The Open Water Diver Course used to be taught by planning the maximum dive times on traditional dive tables. This then moved on and we began to see the eRDPml which is an electronic version of the dive tables and does exactly the same planning with an additional advantage of multilevel dive planning too. The eRDPml replaced the wheel which at the time was all you could use for multilevel dive planning without a dive computer. These days the Open Water course can be taught by doing all the planning on a dive computer and is our favoured option now when teaching this course. Most dives these days are carried out with dive computers, and after qualifying dive tables soon become irrelevant for deeper diving due to time limits compared to diving with a computer.
The other main development with teaching and enrolling on the Open Water Diver course are the options for completing the academic portion of the course, otherwise known as the dive theory. Traditionally this has been done by reading the Open Water Diver manual and watching the DVD, followed by going over the completed knowledge reviews with an Instructor and also passing some quick quizzes and the final exam. The manual and DVD can easily be posted to the participants to complete at home before starting the course.
In recent years there has now been a development of online versions with various options to suit a range of personal preferences. The manual and DVD option is still the most popular but now you can get the manual online rather than a paperback version. In addition you can now complete all of the theory online including the manual, knowledge reviews, quizzes, DVD's and the final exam. To complete the theory in this way the student can enrol direct through the Padi website and select a Dive Centre to work with or the Dive Centre can send the student an online link to enrol that way. Both are exactly the same but getting the online theory link from the Dive Centre is cheaper than going through Padi.
The benefit of the online route is that all theory can be completed at home for convenience and to save some time when you start the course. The downside is that it means less time going over the content of the theory with an experienced professional who can elaborate on any points where required or where deemed necessary by the Instructor. Doing the manual version only takes a few hours extra to complete.
The beauty of the options is just that - there are a number of options to suit all personal tastes and preferences. All can be completed at home, the only differences are wether you want to finish the theory 1-1 with an Instructor, and if you prefer a paper manual or an online version. The choice is yours !