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The new 2020 PADI Instructor Course (what's new?)

The king is dead, long live the king (The revised PADI IDC).

PADI have now officially launched the revised version of the Instructor Development Course (IDC). It has been in the works for a few years and can now be offered by Course Directors whom have completed the relating update. The revised PADI IDC brings with it fresh changes and new content.

At the offset I would like to assure any recently certified PADI instructors that their training is still entirely valid and that these new changes to the IDC do not render any previous IDC training obsolete. The format of these new teaching presentations has changed extremely little, the philosophy and methodology of teaching the PADI system remains the same and is why recently certified instructors need not be concerned about having completed an ‘older style’ course. There are no doubt a few reasons why we have a revised PADI IDC. After around 10 years of delivering the current version it has been time for a rewrite. The shift to a digital crewpak is another positive step towards an environmentally aware outlook . However, the primary reason is undoubtedly the significant impact the digital age has on how learning is delivered and achieved in the modern day. This revised IDC has a heavy focus on digital preparation which, in itself, has very productive impacts on the delivery of the course elements. What follows is a summary of the areas where these updates have occurred so that you can familiarise yourself a bit more with this revision.

Digital crewpak / eLearning This will allow candidates to start preparing more thoroughly from the moment they sign up and receive their eLearning access. By moving content that was previously presented within IDC in to the candidate eLearning allows for that newly available time to be spent conducting teaching based workshops that encourage candidates to interact and look at more ‘real-life’ approaches and solutions to both skill and knowledge development. This workshop based approach to IDC content is possibly the biggest modification but one that I feel is a big step in the right direction. This shift will encourage more independant thought and action by giving the opportunity to walk through scenarios and discuss choices/options in a group dynamic instead of the older, more traditional approach of telling candidates how and where is best to conduct sessions. These rehersals will certainly give more confidence and familiarity for those initial evaluation based teaching presentations whether they are classroom or water based.

Skill circuit The revision of the PADI IDC now includes the skills from the current version of the PADI Open Water Diver course which was itself revised in 2013 however the IDC skill circuit did not reflect the newly added skills, this meant that the skill circuit skills in the IDC were reflecting PADI Open Water Diver course skills prior to this time. Fundementally, the skill circuit revision has changed in three (3) small areas, the first of which is the addition of three skills - disconnect low pressure inflator hose, resecure loose cylinder band and emergency weight drop. Secondly, the four (4) skin diver skills have been condensed into one - surface dive while skin diving and clear snorkel using blast method upon surfacing. Lastly, there is a new requirement to encourage teaching in a neutrally buoyant position by only being able to earn a score of 5 for the skills - regulator recovery & clearing and mask removal, replacement & clearing by performing these whilst neutrally buoyant. Despite it not being a requirement to teach in this state it is still highly encouraged so as to minimize the negative impacts on the marine environment and help hone the buoyancy skills of new divers.

Rescue workshop

Whilst participation in a rescue skills workshop has always been a requirement within IDC there has been a significant further emphasis placed on the understanding of (by way of setting up, briefing, demonstrating and debriefing) at least one skill from exercises two, six and seven. Instructor level demonstration of rescue exercise seven has long been a requirement for success in both IDC and IE, and this has now extended it’s reach to incorporate a wider skill. Skill seven remains a requirement, but it is now part of a larger skill demonstration that encompasses surfacing the unresponsive diver (6.2), unresponsive diver at the surface (7), exiting the unresponsive diver (8) and O2 administration. Having a competent skill set is never going to be detrimantal to any instructor although this could be overkill and prove to be logistically challenging (as I have encountered) in some areas due to the extra requirements involved for conducting certain elements in open water. I do believe that teaching a solid rescue workshop should suffice alongside the repeated rescue seven scenario practice and inclusion of rescue skills within teaching presentations alas, this is not discretionary, it is a requirement and despite the added challenge of seemlessly incorporating it into the IDC (which is a dive centre/course director problem) it will no doubt pay dividends in arming candidates with sound rescue skills.

Waterskills Assessment

I would doubt that anyone who is undertaking instructor level training has forgot how to maintain themselves in water, but just in case, the revision has changed the waterskills assessment to a 400m swim and a 10 minute float. This replaces the ‘current’ IDC requirement of completing an 800m swim only.

Confined & open water presentations

Another of the bigger changes aimed at a more realistic teaching approach is regarding the use of a certified assistant. Historically, candidates have been scored on their ability to effectively use an assistant throughout their presentations both in confined and open water. The revision has now adjusted the evaluation criteria so that it is possible to run a teahing presentation with or without an assistant. This is a further test of candidates ability to adapt a more realistic approach by ‘thinking like an instructor’ as we are not always blessed with the use of an assistant in the real world, in doing so, this further backs up the importance in candidates working together and conducting their own dry-runs as part of their preperations for presentation delivery. A second consideration this part of the revision introduces is centred around the need for a demonstration. In instances where a demo is required, candidates will not only have to consider where and when is appropriate so that it benefits all ‘students’, but further considerations will be required if the presentation requires a demo but has also been assigned as having no assistant. This will influence where and how this is conducted - again lending further credence to real world teaching. The format of each presentation has not altered in the sense that confined presentations require one skill to be taught in it’s entirity with a demo and open water presentations require the teaching of two (2) skills that may or may not require some form of demo, and scored by taking an average between the two. For the Course Director and IDC Staff Instructor, there is only now one single evaluation slate that has amalgamated the scoring criteria of both confined and open water. Since there were already many similarities between the two this makes sense, and as for the other areas like demonstration, well we only use that area if it is necessary to the presentation. The bottom of the slate gives the scoring result for both scenarios and is covered in the associated CD/IDCS updates.


Historically, the main guides used to both teach IDC and partake in IDC have been PDF’s of the PADI Instructor Manual, PADI Guide to Teaching and the PADI Course Director Manual. These manuals are now part of the associated digital crewpak (which can be exported for ease of use during the course) but now, as they are linked to your digital account, any updates to standards are automatically displayed when the manuals are viewed - this way you ALWAYS have the most current version available to consult.

This is an overview of the major areas of change. Rest assured that we mostly believe this revision has many benefits and focuses more on the development of the candidates teaching abilities whilst also allowing Course Directors and IDC Staff Instructors to be a bit more prescriptive in addressing any areas of weakness within an individual and/or group which, at it’s core is the main reason for the existance of this level of training, it is after all, an Instructor ‘Development’ Course and we look forward to seeing you achieve success in it’s new format.

Our contributor Stephen J. Aynsley is a 4-year PADI Platinum Awarded Course Director in Utila, Honduras. Follow him on Instagram @padicoursedirectorsja or on Facebook

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