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Scuba Diving Course Online October 16, 2008

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Training.
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The Massachussets Institute of Techology has an amazing collection of 1800 online university courses. Not only are many of these available with dowloadable video, but being one of the top schools in the world, many are of excellent quality and extremely well presented.

Their physical education department runs a course in Scuba Diving, based on the NAUI and SSI Open Water Course, but he states up front that he will teach well beyond the normal open water curriculum. You can access these on line , including the video, at MIT’s Open Courseware web site.

The course includes:

  1. Introduction to Scuba
  2. Physics of Diving
  3. Physics of Diving, cont’d
  4. Care & Planning in Scuba (no video for this one for some reason)
  5. Beyond Diving, advanced topics
  6. The Ocean Environment
  7. Exam Review (no video)

There are also individual videos for skill demonstrations available for download. You can also stream the video if you don’t want to store it all. There is no charge for accessing these materials (and of course no credit for taking the courses), but they solicit donations.

The course instructor is Halston Taylor, a cross-country coach at MIT. What I’ve seen so far isn’t up to the level of say, the Physics course I’ve been watching, but for the price it’s hard to beat. He really emphasises general fitness for divers.

I could spend the rest of my life on just this one web site. It really shows the positive impact the Internet is having on our world, and the enormous potential for the future.



1. deepstop - October 18, 2008

I’m been reviewing the second lecture of this course and have some concerns.
> The explanation of the purpose of a balanced regulator is incomplete. A balanced regulator provides consistent ease-of-breathing at different tank pressures, rather than depths, although the effect is more noticeable at depth.
> Instructor was confused about the densities of sea and fresh water. He finally got it right but shouldn’t have been for someone who understands the principles. He subsequently gets confused about the weight of air in a tank, not knowing why you multiply the tank capacity in cubic feet by .08 to get the weight in pounds. Obviously a cubic foot of air at sea level weighs .08 pounds.
> Seems to think that the flexibility of the LP hose has something to do with the increased air consumption at depth.
> I thought the presentation of the “General Gas Law” P1xV1/T1 = P2xV2/T2 was poor. When going to the example of leaving a tank in the trunk of the car, he erased the formula from the board, losing the opportunity to present the problem as an example of the law.

Still, I appreciate the availability and it does give me a chance to review the basics. I also have a tendency to be picky, despite my own imperfections.


2. deepstop - October 20, 2008

I’m going through the third lecture now. I got almost half way through before hearing something terribly wrong – which in this case was in the discussion about Oxygen partial pressures and toxicity. In determining that 1.6 ATA of O2 would occur at about 217 FSW, the instructor said you would need Trimix at that depth. That’s fair enough, most people would agree with that. However, he also said that you would need enough Oxygen in the Trimix to be able to sustain life at the surface, “10 to 12 percent”. Perhaps a trained mountain climber could survive on that little Oxygen, but 15 to 16 percent is more like it.
Next problem statement was that nothing is known about the causes of Nitrogen Narcosis. While it may not be completely understood we certainly know more than nothing.
He describes a level 1 hit as being in the Spinal Column – huh? “A level 1 hit” is hardly an appropriate description of anything, but if he’s reaching for Type 1 and Type 2 DCS, then he’s got the wrong number.
Some of his explanations demonstrate a tendency to drop in an advanced topic (like tissue compartments) with little explanation. I’m starting to feel some pity for the students.


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