Thursday 27 February 2014 11:16am
A long-term interest in teaching at a distance brought Dr Sarah Stein to her new role.
As the new director of Distance Learning at Otago, her job involves supporting existing distance teachers and students working in one of the 37 postgraduate and six undergraduate subject areas offered at a distance from Otago.
In her previous Otago role, a senior lecturer in higher education in the Higher Education Development Centre at Otago, Dr Stein worked closely with the previous distance director, Dr Bill Anderson, and says he inspired her.
“At my previous job [at the University of New England, in Armidale, New South Wales], about 75 per cent of our papers were offered by distance, and I was involved in professional development of teaching.
“I also did a previous qualification by distance myself, in the early 1990s, and I was fascinated even then by how it was run”.
Although still getting her feet under the table after starting her new role in January, Dr Stein has a clear direction for distance learning.
“I’ll be building on the good work of Bill, who had really started bumping up the image of distance learning, which can be marginalised on occasion.
“I’m really interested in helping people making the ordinary extraordinary, and I also think there is facility for expansion in specialised, unique programme offerings – we should focus on quality, boutique, niche offerings.”
Dr Stein, who grew up in Brisbane and was a primary school teacher before moving into academic staff development, is now a proud Dunedinite, and says she loves the climate and way of life at Otago.
She is keen to hear from departments and staff who are interested in considering distance as a format for their qualifications.