Responding to Market Shifts Keeps Us ALL Relevant



new enewsletterDiving Adventure Magazine goes on line June 2009, and that means greater exposure and opportunity for each and every one of our members… but your help is needed!

By Nestor Palmero

“The only constant is change” is a quote that some attribute back as far as Heraclitus a Greek Philosopher (c.535 BC- 475 BC) and it is a wisdom that we should all embrace, since it is more relevant now in business than ever.

The Publishing Business is in constant change, reinventing itself and evolving, Diving Adventure Magazine finds itself in the throes of that very evolution.

Carbon footprint, diminishing rain forests, run off effects on reefs worldwide…wait a minute!     This planet’s health is crucial to our business…what are we doing?

Well we are waking up and forging ahead and asking you to join us…come with us!

How does SDI, TDI and ERDI taking Diving Adventure Magazine on-line benefit you?

  • The Associate Members Newsletter (read your Divers) subscriptions will transfer to receive Diving Adventure Magazine on line.
  • You can extend an invitation with your compliments for a one year FREE subscription to Diving Adventure Magazine on-line  to every NEW Diver you certify, from NOW ON!
  • It gives you DIVING  NEWS to share with your Divers, while the publication strengthens the brands you represent SDI™, TDI™ and ERDI™
  • Diving Adventure Magazine online will reinforce the programs you teach  to your Divers urging their participation
  • The Travel you sell, at home and abroad, is reinforced and endorsed, urging your divers to stay active and GO DIVING!
  • The Pro Members Newsletter that only you receive (read NOT YOUR DIVERS) gives you a behind-the-scenes look at how you can capitalize on the ideas presented to your Divers in Diving Adventure Magazine online; all of which can directly and positively affect your business!
  • Our subscriber lists ARE NEVER SOLD, and yes many have asked!
  • How can you help?
  • Enroll your NEW Divers and everyone you can to receive the Diving Adventure Magazine online. Your divers always have the ability to unsubscribe at their leisure, if they so desire.
  • Tell your vendors to take a look at advertising in this publication if they want to sell their products and services to your customers via your store. Readership currently stands at  50,000 and thanks to you is constantly growing.
  • Submit your own articles and photography to our editors for consideration. Have an idea for a story? Pass it along. Have a challenge you need solved? Let us know.


Embrace the constant change and make it your own. The tree that bends under the weight of the snow upon its branches is the one that survives to grow old. Capture and cut and paste this story and make it part of your own Newsletter inviting your Divers to come aboard!


Maybe an easier concept for all of us to embrace in our business was Bob Dylan’s…”You best start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone… cause times they are a changin’ ”

Having fun at the old watering hole, AND build your brand


I’d like to propose something totally radical to you today: take down the calendar on your shop wall and circle four days next month when you will invite customers to go diving with you. No courses, no pressure, just for fun.

Now I can think of a thousand excuses NOT to do it. And I’m sure you can come up with a few dozen of your own. Most of mine flutter around the triumvirate of procrastination: no time, no interest, no point.

But there are three excellent reasons to get on with it and make these events happen.

Let’s start with the simplest one: It promotes local diving. Now we all know that local diving off Key Largo is a little more generally appealing than diving a local quarry in the mid-west, but both have something to offer your customers: entries in their logbooks and more experience under their belt. Both of those things are good for business.

In a recent survey sent out to more than 20,000 divers we asked about diving in 2009 and more than two thirds of the folks who responded told us that the focus this year would be on local diving… something within one to three hours drive time. That means your customers could be onside with any local dive initiatives you offer them.

The second good reason is this. The best thing that divers can say about you and your staff is that you dive. Promoting diving just for the sheer fun of it sends out the right message to your customers and that message will get around. Like it or not, you and your staff, SDI, TDI or ERDI dive leaders, have some level of celebrity in the local dive community.  Going out and diving with local divers at local dive spots and making it a fun, enjoyable time will generate tons of good will and get you unbeatable word of mouth publicity.

The third good reason is that promoting diving will help to build YOUR brand. Forget about SDI, TDI or any of the other agencies… the success of your business depends on YOUR brand. Give your customers the benefit of your enthusiasm, experience and professionalism and they’ll be more likely to call you up or visit your store for their next purchase of equipment, training, travel or gear repairs.

Remember, your customers have no objective measure of quality between agency A and agencies B and C ,or between your dive store and dive stores X, Y and Z. Diving with you and your staff is the experience that informs them about “who’s the best” and they make subjective evaluations based on that experience. Going the extra mile to make local diving fun underpins YOUR brand and builds your store’s reputation.

If local diving features accessible wrecks and wonderful underwater flora and fauna, recruiting customers to join your “Local Diving Promo Days” is going to be easier than if your local watering hole is a flooded aggregate quarry with a few tadpoles and sunfish. But underwater games and “skills challenges” can make diving the most basic pond fun.

Organize buoyancy courses: things like a shot line with a few clothes pins at regular intervals that have to be collected and then replaced in the correct order… all of course without holding the line.

Run underwater orienteering races: a complex multi-leg course where teams start with the bearing for the first leg and collect bearings for the others as they go.

Put together treasure hunts, underwater pumpkin carving, run underwater map-making “classes.” Have underwater photography “contests.” If you dive in a quarry where subjects for pictures are limited, bend the contest rules to include categories for that work with what’s available.

Put in a little work making local diving fun, and the dividends will be more active divers calling your shop “home base.” Your brand will grow and so will your business.

Understanding Your Insurance Coverage, Your Options and Conflicts in Coverage


Carol Christini, M.A., President, Insurance Management Services, Inc.

Each year when you purchase insurance, coverage and service is not the only issue to consider.  Differences in policy wordings may impact you and your dive business.  In addition, it is important that you know your training agency will accept the insurance that you purchase.

Reviewing the history of insurance in diving reveals that in the early 70’s the legal climate began to change in the United States.  Prior to that time no insurance was available or required. In response to the liability changes, the training agencies began to offer insurance to their members because insurance was not available from the agent around the corner. Because coverage was not available initially the coverage was based upon the specific training agencies’ standards. Practically 40 years later, coverage for those working in the diving industry remains a unique and specialized coverage that is available only from limited sources.  However, now coverage is based upon the respective training agencies’ standards, national standards (RSTC) and international standards (WRSTC and/or ISO).

Here are a few are ways you can determine for yourself what is the best coverage for you.  Understanding will help you be an informed insurance consumer.

There are five major sections to any insurance policy wording.

1)    Agreement, outlines the intent of the coverage and who is insured

2)    Exclusions, advises what is not covered

3)    Policy Form, explains if the policy is a claims made or an occurrence form

4)    Warranties, states agreed expectations and are a requirement of coverage

5)    Conditions, details requirements placed on the insured

The brochure you receive with your insurance application or posted on the website of your insurance representative or training agency should spell out this information.  It will also provide other information such as: the insured (the association), the insured certificate holder (you the diving professional or dive business), additional insureds, and which insurance carrier, underwriter or company is providing the coverage. It should address the policy period and total cost, as well as conditions placed upon you if you are involved in an incident or accident. Also it should explain any restrictions or limitations on additional insureds. If the insurance brochure does not outline all of this information— buyer beware!


No policy covers everything. Insurance policies are written to cover only very specific situations. Every policy, even your homeowners and auto insurance policy, contains exclusions in coverage. Therefore, you have to read the exclusions, which describe those situations not covered under your professional liability policy. Professional liability policies may exclude situations considered outside the scope of your “professional trade” such as employment related issues, equipment product liability, or boat operations. Business liability policies may exclude professional liability.  Watch carefully for items excluded which are a specific part of your activities. Typically items excluded may be available under another type of policy.


Warranties are specific to the type of “industry” the policy pertains to and will spell out standards within the industry the insured is expected to adhere to. Many of the warranties in scuba professional liability policies address standards or expectations within the scope of supervision of, orientation to and instruction in scuba diving activities. For example: warranties will address the need for use of waivers, supervision of entry-level divers during training and industry expectations for medical screening. Seasoned professionals within the diving industry understand these warranties as part the normal    “standard operating procedures.”

If you are multi-certified (teaching for more than one training agency), I caution you about limitations specific to one agency’s training standards. This could restrict or eliminate coverage under the insurance when you are adhering to the “another training agency’s standard while teaching another agencies course.” The warranties are professional expectations and as a warranty, you agree to abide by them. Intentional violations of these warranties can void your coverage. The fewer the warranties — the less likelihood you could do something to void your coverage.




Additional Insured Requirements and Special Wording for Additional Insured’s

Many training agencies, retail businesses, pools, charter boat operators and bodies of water require to be listed on your professional liability policy as an additional insured. Why? Because your activities as a diving professional can bring liability exposure to their business entity that is not specifically covered elsewhere. Additional insureds should be given broad protection under the policy arising from the action of the insured (professional or business) that leads to the additional insured being named in a legal action.  Additional insureds should have coverage that protects them for their own acts, errors or omissions if they cause the problem.

How can you know for yourself?

Read carefully the brochure especially the exclusions and warranties, as well as coverage for additional insureds. When you purchase insurance this year make sure before you buy that it will adequately protect you, your training agency. Don’t assume that anything you buy will adequately protect you and will be accepted by your training agency as meeting their requirements for liability insurance. Ask your training agency prior to purchasing insurance if the coverage you intend to buy will meet their requirements. They will tell you if they have been provided a copy of the policy wording for review and if it is acceptable. If you represent several training agencies, check to see which policy will be the broadest protection for you and the training agencies. Most importantly, is the coverage acceptable to the training agency that you certify the most students.


Carol Christini has offering insurance and risk management guidance to the diving industry for 25 years. She is a diver and understands both insurance and diving. She or other IMS staff can be reached for further questions regarding insurance at 800-467-7282.

Training Standard questions should be addressed directly to your training agency.

Deconstructing the Process of Learning and Instruction

It’s fair to say that the goal of most candidates who are working through an SDI or TDI leadership system to earn their instructor rating is to deliver the best possible standard of diver education possible.


The candidates who perform well, do so in part because they come into their IDC or IT program prepped and ready to learn. They arrive having worked on their diving and in-water skills… laps in the pool, mask clearing, gear removal on the surface… you know the drill.


Some arrive with a few miles logged making presentations… as an AI working with actual students or in front of their family and friends… or the mirror. Regardless of the methodology, they make an impression with their trainers because they’ve worked at to gain some experience, and it’s had a positive impact.


And the serious ones come primed for the knowledge review having studied their textbooks and leadership manual to brush up on dive theory –Gas Laws, signs and symptoms of DCS, etc.


But for the vast majority of newly minted instructors there is something standing in the way of them reaching their goal. What’s missing is the ability to read if effective learning is taking place in their classrooms. For lay educators not armed with the tools supplied by a post grad degree in education, or bloodied by the experience of teaching scuba in the real world with real people for a season of two… or three, this is a tough skill to acquire.


As experienced instructors and instructor-trainers, store owners, bosses, we mentor our new instructors but it’s hard to condense years of responding effectively to signs and signals from students into a few words. But there is help.


Gagne and the eight phases of learning


There are several established educational models in use by professional educators such as teachers, textbook writers, computer programmers, et al to develop instructional materials or presentations. We can learn a great deal from “borrowing” those concepts to help make the classes we lead more effective.


The work of American educator Robert Gagné especially had a profound influence on American education and on military, institutional and industrial training. His model is simple and applicable for scuba instruction.


Gagne explained that for effective learning to take place, whether the instruction is taking place in a classroom, on a factory floor or in a swimming pool, the learner must go through all eight of the phases in his model.


He stated that if one phase is ignored or if there’s a partial breakdown that extends over several phases, learning does not take place. It’s therefore primarily important that each of these phrases occurs, and if there is an issue, some person or material must make up the short-coming or effective learning will not occur.


The following paragraphs briefly describe each of the phases of learning presented by Gagne’s model:


Attention. Attention is the phase that pushes information into the student’s working memory and helps to keep it active there. And so for effective learning, the student must focus full intention on the learning activity itself. Although this is listed as the “first phase,” attention is critical throughout the whole learning process.


Expectancy. During this phase, the student realizes that the end result of learning is going to be something desirable. This develops motivation to engage in the subsequent phases of the learning process.


Retrieval of Relevant Information to Working Memory. This phase is entirely dependent on the student and his past learning experiences. During this phase, the student retrieves from long-term memory the structures that will be helpful in learning new information to him.


Selective Perception. This phase describes the student focusing their efforts on the  essential features of the instructional presentation. One important role of an instructor in this phase is helping students to direct their attention appropriately.


Encoding: Entry of Information into Long-Term Storage. During this phase the student remembers information. The information is transferred into long-term memory by relating the new  information to things that are already stored there.



Responding. During this phase the student uses what has been taught. He retrieves and actively uses the information that has been stored in long-term memory, and demonstrates through an active performance that the learning has taken place.


Feedback. During this phase the student determines the degree to which the performance during the previous phase was satisfactory. Positive feedback on a good performance usually serves as a positive reinforcement.


Cueing Retrieval. During this phase the learner practices recalling or applying the information after it has been initially learned in order to enhance retention of the information or to transfer the learning beyond its original context to a new application.



When Gagne stated that a student must go through all eight of these phases in order for effective learning to occur, he did not state that the instructor is the person responsible for causing all eight of them to occur. What he said was that Somebody (usually either the instructor or the student) must see to it that all of these phases occur, but the actual role of the instructor will vary from situation to situation and from student to student.


For example, during phase one an instructor will introduce a topic to be learned in a way that catches the student’s attention and causes them to develop expectancy (phase two) that it would be interesting to know more about the topic.



The Nine Events of Instruction


Based on the eight phases of learning Gagne developed with others nine events of instruction: useful information for us in the context of improving the effectiveness of the training we deliver and the way we coach new instructors. These focus on activities that can be performed by an instructor or by the instruction system itself to promote effective learning. Here is the list.

Gaining attention: Giving a stimulus to ensure reception of coming instruction

Informing the learner of the objective: Telling student what they will be able to do following successful instruction

Stimulating recall of prior learning: Asking for recall of existing relevant knowledge

Presenting the stimulus: Displaying the content and discussing it

Providing learner guidance: Supplying organization and relevance to enhance understanding 

Eliciting performance: Asking learners to respond, demonstrating learning

Providing Feedback: Giving immediate feedback on learner’s performance.

Assessing performance: Providing feedback to learners’ more performance for reinforcement

Enhancing retention and transfer: Providing diverse practice to generalize the capability 


There is something to be gained in sharing this work with new instructors, and reviewing it in comparison with our current classroom/training techniques. In fact we can use the table below to gain a better understanding of how the events of instruction interlink with the phases of learning. Reading Gagne will never replace the benefits of classroom experience, but it may help to optimize it.


Event of Instruction

Learning Phase

How Teacher or Text Does It

How Students Self-Instruct

When to Skip This Event


Gaining attention




Sudden stimulus change.

Call for attention.





Attentional set

Mood management.

When attention can be assumed – when learner is already alert.


Informing the learner of the objective: activating motivation.



State objectives and relate them to students’ needs and interests.

Student selects own objectives. (This usually comes first.)

Almost never – but maybe if the objective is obvious.


Stimulating recall of prior knowledge.


Retrieval to Working Memory of prerequisite information


Give an exercise or review activity to recall previous information.

Student looks for and retrieves relevant prior information.

Often students do this without even realizing that it is happening.

Almost never – but skillful self-learners may do this themselves.



Presenting the stimulus material.



Selective Perception

Text, audiovisual, or voice presentation.

Objects or demonstration materials

Show distinctive features and focus attention on them.

Student seeks out and finds relevant material to provide instruction.

Almost never – although learners may acquire stimulus material on their own initiative.


Providing learning guidance


Encoding: Entry to Long-term Memory Storage

Provide meaningful context.

Offer organizing strategies.

Relate encoding to the objectives.

Student uses rehearsal or chunking strategies.

Student selects storage structures to retain in-formation.

Student employs cognitive strategies

When the learner already possesses effective cognitive strategies.


Eliciting performance



Another online first from Scuba Diving International

Leadership/Instructor Crossover Orientation


“It had to come,” says Sean Harrison, Vice President of Training and Member Services for SDI the undisputed leader in online training for the dive industry with more than 65,000 online courses completed.

Harrison, talking to a gathering of training professionals was describing the latest chapter in the company’s impressive run at developing a full curriculum of diver training courses through its eLearning Program ( Professional Online Crossovers.

“We have enjoyed an unprecedented demand from dive instructors wanting to join our SDI team,” he said. “They teach for other sport agencies, and either want to add SDI programs to bolster their career, or, more and more, want to switch to SDI fully because they find the benefits offered by our programs better suit them and their business goals.”

Harrison explained that the new online program, Leadership/Instructor Crossover Orientation, has been in full operation since the late fall and was developed by the same in-house group who have put SDI’s open water, nitrox, wreck, deep, and navigation programs available via internet access. “The real benefit of having our very own programmers and beta-testing people is that they know diving, they know the industry and in developing these programs is that they work right off the bat with no delays and no downtime. But the advantages of offering this orientation course online are actually much greater than with any online course we’ve developed in the past,” he said.

“Crossover candidates can go online when it suits them, and work through what is an extremely comprehensive and detailed grounding on everything they need to prepare them for their final meeting with an SDI or TDI instructor Trainer prior to being accepted and inducted as members.”

The online Leadership/Instructor Crossover Orientation is updated as standards and course outlines change and is available as a resource for any crossover SDI leadership at any time… “So it’s an excellent way to keep current and refresh one’s knowledge.”

Harrison said that many SDI facilities have found the online orientation a boon when they hire new staff. “These professionals can devote quality time to their orientation in their own time well before starting their new assignment, and be ready to teach SDI programs starting on day one of employment.”

There are no stand alone fees for this online course but the program is a required and integral part of the crossover process and is included in the $399 crossover price.




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