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Resources for Staff

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The Distance Learning Office provides support for staff through the following:

Professional Development

Distance Education Community Network


Note: The Directory and Guide are also available in hard copy from the Distance Learning Office

Background information

These additional background notes may also be of interest to distance education staff:

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Biennial Symposium

The biennial symposium is an opportunity for distance educators to network and share practices and includes workshops & guest speakers.

This all day symposium was last held in Dunedin on Friday 5th December 2014 at St Margaret's College, titled: Towards Greater International Involvement: How Can we Help You?. Videos of a selection of presentations are available on Unitube.

The 2011 Symposium is also available on UniTube.

Distance Learning Forum

Distance education administrators meet four times a year to discuss matters of interest.

Meetings are held on Thursdays at 11am via Zoom

Staff from our northern campuses are able to join in via webconference using OtagoConnect.

This one hour meeting consists of short presentations from ITS, the Distance Library Service, Admissions & Enrolment, Student Administration and Network; followed by a topic for discussion. Previous  topics have covered: Proposed developments for 2010, Marketing your Distance Programme, the new Library Distance Service, Supporting distance students, and Student access to new technologies.

Meeting Dates for 2016

  • 18 August
  • 17 November

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Distance Learning Advisory Board

At a strategic level, the distance learning community at Otago is represented on the Distance Learning Advisory Board. Meeting four times a year, the Board is comprised of representatives from each of the Divisions and is convened by the Deputy Vice Chancellor. Visit the Otago University website for the full membership, meeting dates and terms of reference. You are welcome to raise issues with your Divisional representative.

Course Outline and Administration Guide

Also known as a paper outline or course book, it provides students with information about how the course will be run. The template can be adapted by lecturers for their own use. This template is available as either a Blackboard or Word doc template. Request the Blackboard zip file with importing instructions from the Distance Learning Office.

Course Outline & Administration Guide template (2013 version. 142KB in Word format, 47 pages)

Blackboard version information with sample home page screen shot (1 page in pdf format)

Staff user reviews (1 page in pdf format)

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Student Support Email Templates

This resource outlines an easy and quick way to build engagement with distance students and to tell them about the range of information and support resources that are available at the University. Messages do not need to be sent individually to be effective. A "clas" message - the same to every student – will do. Although the resource is called "Email support", any technology is okay. Use Blackboard, email, even Facebook to send the messages.

Rationale and sample message (in PDF format)

Contact the Distance Learning Office - for the full range of support messages.


Zoom is a web conferencing solution for online meetings and webinars used by the University of Otago.

Zoom is:
"a bit like Skype to use – but with a lot more functions to deliver [online classrooms]at any time and to almost any one with an internet connection.

Zoom has many useful features to encourage collaboration and learning:

  • Group text, audio and video chat
  • Ability to share presentations (like Powerpoint)
  • Collaborate on a whiteboard
  • Conduct polls during your meetings
  • Share useful files

Is Zoom for you?

Email template to send to participants

When a Zoom "meeting" is set up, you can copy and paste the invitation and email it to students. The invitation includes the Zoom link, making it easy for student's to join the class.

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