PFI eLearning – Have you tried it yet?

By: Tim Andrews

It’s been almost a year since PFI officially joined the ITI team and I could probably write an entire article about all of the great things that have resulted from it. However, whether you’re a student taking one of the courses or you’re an instructor teaching one of them, the best thing might just be the eLearning programs.

For the Student

Start right away! You just signed up for your class and you’re stoked… but now you have to wait potentially weeks or months before your class begins. At best, you have to wait several days for your book to get mailed to you. With eLearning, you can get to start right away. Maybe you’re not even sure if you really want to take a Freediving course. You don’t have to decide on an instructor or pay for a full course. You can sign up for the eLearning right from (right here for the PFI Freediver course: If you have selected an instructor already, check with them; they may have a special link on their website or a code for you to use to sign up for your eLearning.

Learn at your pace! Do you want to power through the whole course in one sitting? Maybe you’d like to spread it out over a week or more. With eLearning, you choose the pace of your academic learning. Maybe you’re having trouble remembering all of the breathing techniques. You can repeat the section until you’re comfortable with the information.

Quizzes and Exams provide real-time feedback! Not sure if you should repeat a section? The review at the end of each section will give you feedback on whether or not you got what you should have from the material. If you were just reading through a book, “you don’t know what you don’t know” until you take your exam at the end of your classroom session. That doesn’t leave much time within your course to learn any material you have difficulty with.

Make the most of your Instructor time. The time you have with your instructor is limited. Having gone through the eLearning before your course allows you to ask specific questions about material you had difficulty with. Have you ever sat through a class or presentation and then two or three days later think of a question you wished you could have asked? ELearning gives you time think about the material and develop questions to ask your instructor.

For the Instructor 

Tailor your course. If you have an ITI facility, you’ll get notifications when your students start and finish their eLearning and you can view your students’ progress report. This progress report will allow you tailor your discussion in the classroom – no need talk about masks if everyone aced the equipment section!! If you don’t have an ITI facility, the student is required to bring the progress report to you. This targeted approach makes the pace of the classroom time more relaxed.

Maximize the value of your classroom time. Not only does the targeted approach allow you to skip or gloss over topics your students already know and focus on what they struggled with, it affords you the time to dig into topics you know are key to success. For example, regardless of test scores, I always cover problem management and breathing techniques. Problem management is obvious; it’s the most important thing we do and repetition of knowledge and skills is critical. The eLearning provides more exposure to the material. I think that the classroom also provides the most optimal environment to master breathing techniques. With the eLearning completed, not only is it (again) more exposure to the material, now instead of teaching them what a hook breath is, for example, you can focus on actually performing the breath. Considering the cost of pool time versus classroom time, I’d much rather use classroom time to nail breathing techniques and use the valuable pool time for more repetitions of skills like single-leg entries. Of course, you could lengthen your classroom time and I know that some instructors have. Unfortunately, I’ve found this to be a barrier to entry for some students at the Freediver level. As in instructor, if your student base consists of current divers (like spearos), there is likely a higher level of commitment to taking the course and they’ll be more willing take time off from work to accommodate a longer course. However, I’ve found much of my student base consists of people with a casual or passing interest in trying out freediving. Many of them are here (in Hawaii) on vacation or a work trip and have limited time to begin with. The majority of the inquiries I receive from students are for a weekend and in many cases a single day or afternoon; obviously a full 3 days is not compatible with their request. The eLearning can be the difference between being able to accommodate a student (without shortcutting the course) or turning them away. Sadly, many other freediving courses are much shorter and a student may turn to them for that reason alone. Once a student enters another certification system, they may never see the value of PFI (you don’t know what you don’t know!).

Create more value! My courses haven’t gotten any shorter since I began using eLearning, but they have become far more valuable to the students. Apart from having time to focus on the critical aspects (as discussed above), now I have far more time to answer student’s questions and their questions are more well thought out and developed. I think every class I’ve taught has had at least one student ask, “how can I get better?” This may be the area most ripe for added value as now you have time for more than a cursory answer (just ensure the training techniques are commensurate with the level of course you’re teaching).

No books to ship! I’m that one student that will have read the manual cover-to-cover before the course, so I try to ensure my students have an opportunity to do the same. With the eLearning, now you don’t have to deal with delivering a physical book to your student. Even if you normally just provide books to your students when they arrive for class, you don’t have to worry about physical inventory either, which can be very helpful when a student wants to sign up the week of your course. I keep an “inventory” of eLearning codes that I email to my students when they sign up, but you don’t even have to do that. You can have your students sign up right on or you can even add a link to your website that will automatically affiliate them with your facility.

ELearning is an incredible tool that can insert more value into freediving courses with little to no increased cost (course fees, classroom fees, time off from work, etc), providing a better student and instructor experience. Give it a try!

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