NASE is committed to reducing diver training’s impact on the environment by implementing a 100-percent digital learning system. This Learn Green, Dive Blue initiative is the basis of our entire diver training system and materials development program.
As divers, we are — by default — environmentalists. Not the “let’s throw ten thousand people out of work because that pipeline might hurt the spotted owl’s feelings“ kind of environmentalism. We’re more the practical kind.
We know, for example, that not only is preserving the coral reefs and fish the right thing to do, it’s also good for business. As a result, we teach our students good buoyancy control skills, to preserve wrecks rather than rape them for artifacts, and to respect plant and animal life under water.
As diving educators, we tend to give considerable thought to the consequences our actions may have on the aquatic environment. Why is it, then, that the dive industry has shown so little regard for the environment above water?
Traditional methods of diver training tend to consume a lot of paper. Most of us have an entire shelf filled with expensive books we’ve used to teach with (and which we were forced to purchase in order to become instructors). Then, when you add in the textbooks our students have purchased over the years…well, you can end up with a stack of paper over 100 feet high.
“But wait,“ you say, “Aren’t pulpwood trees a renewable resource? I don’t see anyone shedding tears when we harvest a field of wheat or corn. Can’t we just grow more trees?”
Well, that’s right…up to a point. Consider:
- We must harvest the wheat and corn, or else risk starvation.
- Until recently, we didn’t have much choice with the pulpwood trees, either. But now technology has given us alternatives.
Why it’s most important to save paper whenever possible has little to do with conserving the trees themselves (we can, after all, grow more). Instead, it has to do with the fossil fuel and other resources we consume when making and distributing that paper.
- It takes fuel to cut down trees and transport them to the paper mill.
- It takes even more energy to convert the pulpwood to paper, get it to the printer, turn it into books, then get those books into students’ hands. That energy is not replaceable, nor can the impact of the associated pollution be easily negated.
Then there is the practical side. Paper and printing cost money. The cost of printing and paper has been rising steadily and will continue to do so at an alarming rate. (Paper prices rose by 20 percent in 2010 alone.)
- It’s not unusual for a textbook that retailed for $20 just a few years back to sell for $40 or more today. In a few more years that amount could easily be $60, $80 $100 or more.
- Another cost associated with paper publishing is that of time. It simply takes too much time to get paper textbooks into students’ hands. First you have to order the books from the publisher (i.e., training agency). That can take a week or more. Then your students may need to make a special trip to your store just to pick them up (a trip that can cost them $10 or more just in gas).
- In most consumers’ estimation, it already takes too much time to learn to dive. Anything we do to add to that just decreases our potential market. And there’s no reason it has to.
In the past year, NASE has committed itself to make it possible to certify a NASE diver without cutting down a single tree. And, in the process, make NASE diver training more appealing and more accessible to a new generation of divers. To meet this goal, we’re introducing several new products, programs ans services, including:
- eLearning for Every NASE Diver Course: NASE already has eLearning programs for Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Nitrox, Cave and Instructor training. We’re moving rapidly to develop eLearning programs for all NASE continuing eduction and leadership programs.
- Digital eBooks: eLearning students still want and need reference materials. With the cost of paper books becoming prohibitive, more and more people are turning to devices such as iPads, Androids and Windows tablets, Kindles, Nooks — even smart phones. We’re following suit by making all of our texts available as digital eBooks — and we’re giving them away free with each eLearning course.
- Virtual Record Keeping: Students begin the registration process when they enroll in NASE eLearning (they can even upload their own c-card photos!). Instructors can then log in to the eLearning system to maintain a record of the students’ in-water skill performance and training completion. When ready, the instructor can certify a student just by clicking a button.
- Digital C-Cards: If you’ve ever checked in for a flight using a paperless ticket on your smart phone, you can pretty much envision what these are like. Digital c-cards never wear out, never get lost and never need replacing.
- Paperless Paperwork: This is something we’ve had for the past two years. All of NASE’s traditional paperwork is available as interactive PDFs you can complete on screen, digitally sign and email back to us — all without ever sending a piece of paper through a printer.
We call this our Learn Green, Dive Blue initiative. It’s practical environmentalism at work. By that we mean that it’s not only the right thing to do, it also provides substantial benefits. For example:
- Students overwhelmingly choose eLearning over more traditional and time-consuming methods of diver training — especially when it saves them money.
- Numerous studies have shown that computer-aided instruction, when properly done, results in more effective transfer of cognitive skills than traditional learning methods, such as classroom lectures.
- The time eLearning saves means more time with students to promote continuing education, equipment sales, dive travel and local dive activities. It can also translate into more time in the water.
- The appeal of digital learning helps make your NASE courses more appealing to today’s consumers than those of organizations who insist on continuing to mow down trees.
- Our digital record keeping system, in which students enter their own contact information and upload their own photos saves you data-entry time and helps ensure greater accuracy.
- Not only do you not need to have money tied up in an extensive inventory of learning materials, our single-price policy means you pay one low price for a package that includes your student’s eLearning signup code, digital eBook, c-card processing and lifetime access to the eLearning course and virtual student records. This translates directly into lower costs and higher profit margins for you.
It’s no secret that the dive industry’s refusal to embrace change is a major factor in why the traditional diver training agencies certify just a fraction of the students they did 25 years ago.
Don’t be caught in the past. Join with us in catching the new wave in diver training. Teach different. Learn different. Dive different.
Learn green. Dive blue.