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Friday 7 March 2014 2:18pm

Dr Sarah Stein
Dr Sarah Stein
Director, Distance Learning

Soon after getting my first job, I began to understand the meaning of my undergraduate education. I was finally able to see how it connected with the real context of my workplace. I was keen to play a part in the making positive changes in my work. For me, postgraduate study was the key!

Being independent, with a full-time job, meant that I had little capacity to study. Studying even part-time on campus meant fighting peak-hour traffic to get to evening lectures and tutorials at least a couple of times each week, never mind having to fit in time for reading and assignment work as well. That is when I discovered distance study.

I chose a course that was directly relevant to my profession and was taught by experienced academics, many of whom were still working in my field. I interacted with other students, many of whom were within New Zealand, but others in all sorts of countries - my eyes were opened to the world beyond my own little comfortable local environment. They taught me so much!

Plus a roaring fire

And what was really amazing is that I could do all of that while sitting in my pyjamas and slippers, in front of my roaring fire, in the cold evenings and at the weekend… With the support of my family, work colleagues and friends, I set up routines that made study a normal part of my life for those couple of years. For me, having that flexibility made study doable and therefore enjoyable.

Going away for work for a few days didn't interfere with my study routine either. If I had an internet connection, then my phone, laptop or tablet could link me into any scheduled web conference or meetings with fellow students online for project work. I could add to discussion boards or upload assignment work. Even set readings could be accessed from my laptop, phone or tablet so I could read them wherever I was, and whenever I wanted to.

I learned so much from the experiences and knowledge that my teachers and fellow students had to share about different ways of applying theories and ideas. As a result, I thought about my own work in ways I could never have imagined. I took on projects and roles that enabled me to start making a real difference in my profession.

I encourage you to consider the personal and professional possibilities and advantages of doing postgraduate study by distance. At Otago, distance programmes are offered through all four Divisions in areas where we have specific expertise. Our distance programmes reflect the many areas of strength and expertise for which Otago has been long known. They are designed to open up your eyes to strong, current research, theory, and practice-informed expertise to enable you to make a real difference in your world, whatever and wherever that may be.

Dr Sarah Stein
Director, Distance Learning

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