Get the Education Edge

In the current economic environment, parks and recreation departments are challenged to keep their aquatic operations profitable and safe. You may not realize how important continuing education is to meeting this challenge.

The ability of the aquatic professional to obtain additional education, both by traditional means and newer online venues, can ensure a stronger knowledge base, thus a more effective pool facility management team that can deliver a safer environment for all who use the facility.

There are many options for aquatic professionals to continue their education, including pool operator classes, manufacturers’ seminars, trade association courses, conferences and scientific symposiums and college degree programs both in class and online.

Most aquatic professionals display a tremendous passion for what they do, and take pride in their career. It requires a special dedication to direct, promote, and evaluate revenue-generating swim programs, oversee safety, and manage risks. Yet, we’ve all seen it, in any position: over time some professionals become complacent and start to lose their edge. Continuing education brings the experienced, busy professional back into focus, refreshed with increased knowledge of, and exposure to, innovative products, learning and new science that helps them do their job even better.

Over the next twelve months, using the tools of an online educational format combined with a monthly column, we will explore a study of the major facets of swimming pool operation technology from mathematics, hydraulics and water chemistry to legal and liability issues that face the aquatic professional. Within each module, we will focus on enhancing your knowledge of swimming pool operations, provide an understanding directed toward cost considerations of your facility, and help you become aware of innovated technological advancements related to swimming pool mechanicals. Readers who participate in individual education modules will have an opportunity to share real life situations with us, and explore and solve specific challenges they are experiencing on the job.

Theory of Adult Education

Dr. Malcolm S. Knowles, often referred to as “the father of adult learning,” defined and advocated his Theory of Adult Education, based on a five-point premise. He maintained that adult learners:

· Are self-directed, as opposed to dependent

· Bring a lifetime of experiences that are resources for learning

· Learn based on their social roles

· Want immediate applicability for what they are learning

· Are less subject-centered and more problem-centered

Examining Knowles’ theory closer, and applying it to continuing education in aquatics, we advocate that aquatic professionals combine the initial education training with hands-on-experience. What was originally learned in the classroom now has more meaning at the swimming pool complex. Learning then multiplies when you couple this new understanding and share experiences with other aquatic professionals.

The Syllabus

Many of the recent continuing education programs in aquatics bring the issues of managing risk and safety to the forefront. Through this column, and other learning tools, we’ll help you understand how recent studies revealed by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) can be applied on the job to circumvent irritants in indoor facilities and RWIs. We’ll familiarize you with how to resource additional research on these studies. Risk management, reduction of liability and an understanding of legal terms such as negligence, failure to warn and product liability are better understood after experiencing the issues within your own facility.

Each issue will offer course work and an assignment that focuses on the most current studies and technology available to the aquatic professional, and discuss how to manage issues from a problem-centered approach, rather than a subject-centered one. For example, we might ask you to take a hydraulic calculation to solve a water clarity problem. The relationship between gallons per minute and square footage of filter area becomes clear to a career aquatic manager when he or she learns to approach the problem in a new way--from a circulation-filtration issue rather than unbalanced water chemistry.

Readers will be asked to respond to a course work assignment and submit responses via online communication threads. You will receive information on resource materials available for continuing study, as well as Web site locations of upcoming workshops and symposiums. At the end of each article, we will also ask you to help evaluate the learning you received and respond to a brief test. Parks & Recreation Business will send you a gift as a thank you for your participation.[L1]

With a combination of self-study, article review and shared experiences with other aquatic professionals, this new educational venue will reinforce the mission of providing a healthy, enjoyable and safe aquatic facility, and revitalize the aquatic manager’s passion for learning.

Connie Gibson Centrella is Program Director for the online Aquatic Engineering Program at Keiser University eCampus. She was recently honored with the Evelyn C. Keiser Teaching Excellence Award “Instructor of Distinction.” Ms. Centrella is an industry veteran with over 40 years experience in the pool and spa industry. She is a former pool builder with extensive knowledge in pool construction and equipment installation as well as manufacturing.