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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 Distance Learning Information and Support Booklet for Staff is 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:

Distance Campus Staff Newsletter

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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, Christchurch, Wellington, and Auckland in November 2016.  on Friday 5th December 2014 at St Margaret's College, titled: Towards Greater International Involvement: How Can we Help You?.

  • 2016 Symposium is available on YouTube
  • 2014 Symposium is available on Unitube.
  • 2011 Symposium is available on UniTube.

Teaching Forum

This forum provides a means for teaching staff to air issues relating to distance learning. It meets four times a year and on other occasions if the need arises.

Meetings are usually held from 10am - 11am on Wednesday mornings via Zoom so that staff may participate wherever they are. Distance administrators are also welcome to attend meetings of the Teaching Forum.

Forum dates

Zoom meeting room for 2018

  • Wednesday 16 May
  • Wednesday 22 August
  • Wednesday 14 November

Administrators Forum

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

Meetings are held on Thursdays at 10am via Zoom so that staff may participate wherever they are. 

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.

Forum Dates and Zoom meeting room for 2017

  • Thursday 17 May
  • Thursday 23 August
  • Thursday 15 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.

Student Profiles: Who are your students?

At the start of any paper it is always very useful to find out a little about your students. This resource is a series of questions that you might like to use as the basis of a questionnaire to help you gather some information about your students’ experience, background and expectations. Gathering your students’ responses to these questions will begin the process of getting to know your students, their expectations about their study and the paper, and help you to find out a little about their background and experience. The students will be prompted to think about why they have enrolled for the paper and to clarify their expectations. Building students’ self-knowledge is a good step in helping them to prepare for their learning, and knowing this information will inform your teaching.

Student Profile Questions (PDF format, 40KB)

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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 messages (PDF format, 340KB)

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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