Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Online learning guidelines

Otago has introduced online learning, where on-campus papers have been adjusted to welcome online learners. While online learning varies across papers, the following guidelines generally apply.

Before enrolling, prospective students are encouraged to get in touch with the paper co-ordinator of their chosen papers, for further information specific to that paper.

It is essential that online learners engage with Blackboard throughout their studies. Getting familiar with Blackboard as early as possible, and visiting the pages regularly, will be essential for online learner success.

Academic information and support

Course information

Every paper you enrol in will have a course outline which provides detailed information about course content, assignments and contacts. Course outlines are usually available on Blackboard.

Blackboard is the online learning environment that most Otago papers use. Before lectures start, you will be given access to the Blackboard pages for the papers in which you have enrolled. Blackboard is where you will find the course outline, lecture recordings, course materials and more.


Online learners can join lectures via Zoom at the New Zealand time designated for the lecture, or watch the recording of the lecture at a later time. Recordings are available via Blackboard. 


Where tutorials are part of the paper requirements, online learners can usually participate in tutorials by joining a live tutorial at the designated New Zealand time. Depending on numbers of online learners, and the time zones in which they live, additional tutorials may be scheduled outside of regular hours, or alternative tutorial arrangements will be made.
If tutorial participation is a requirement of the overall grade, teaching staff will consider the ability of online learners to participate effectively in classes.

Access to teaching staff

Most papers have a range of teaching staff, including paper co-ordinators, lecturers and tutors, who hold regular office hours at designated New Zealand times (as noted in course outlines or on Blackboard). If possible, online learners are encouraged to contact staff during those office hours, but for those in different time zones, staff will make themselves available to online learners outside of office hours by appointment.

It is essential that online learners engage with the teaching staff on their papers as early as possible, ideally in the first week of classes. Regular engagement with teaching staff throughout their studies will be essential for online learner success.


Assignments may need to be adjusted for online learners, for example there may be different requirements around submission of assignments, or group work activities. Teaching staff will advise you of any changes.

Academic resources

Academic resources will be made available either by teaching staff or Otago’s library services. This may include textbooks and other set texts, otherwise online versions of essential texts may be available to purchase. Refer to your course outline or speak to your paper coordinator for further information.

Library services for distance and online students 

Study support

A range of resources including advice on preparing for study, exams and assignments, and some specific resources for online students such as ‘How to adjust your study habits for online study’, are available on Blackboard in the UNIO101: Getting ready for Otago site.

Peer support

Some teaching staff will put peer support arrangements in place for online learners. Speak to your paper co-ordinator if you would like some support to connect with your peers.

Academic integrity

Otago qualifications are highly valued and sought after by employers because they maintain a high level of academic integrity. We ask, and expect, students – including online learners – to act responsibly and ethically as they undertake all their assessments.

Breaching the University’s Academic Integrity Policy is unfair to your classmates, can often significantly affect the value of your degree, and have far-reaching consequences, including on later employment and career pathways. For these reasons, Otago requires online learners to acknowledge and follow the ‘honour code’ that binds us together as a community of learning.

Academic Integrity Policy

^ Top of page

General information and support

Study support

Student Learning Development provide a range of free services to all Otago students. For online students, these include workshops and one-one-one Zoom consultations.

Student Learning Development website


Course advice and planning

Student Development provides online students with course advice and planning before and during their studies at Otago.

Student Development


Distance learning support

While not officially Distance Learning programmes, students in Otago’s online programmes are encouraged to explore the Distance Learning website where there is a wide range of information for both future and current students.

Distance Learning at Otago


Pastoral care

International Student Advisers

International Student Advisers in the International Office are dedicated to helping international students with a wide variety of issues.

International Student Advisers


Otago University Students Association (OUSA) Student Support

Otago University Students Association (OUSA) Student Support provides a range of support services to all Otago students.

OUSA Student Support


Postgraduate support

The Graduate Research School supports research students undertaking a PhD, doctorate or research master's degree.

Graduate Research School


Visa and insurance support

The International Office provides insurance, visa and immigration support.

Immigration and visa support


International insurance support


^ Top of page

Need help now?

There are many ways to access support at Otago. If you aren’t sure exactly who to contact, we recommend the following as the best places to start looking for the help you need.

Course outline

You will be provided a course outline when your paper starts, which will be available on Blackboard. This very important document outlines everything you need to know about the paper.

Before you enrol in a paper, you can access a course outline from a previous intake on the paper information pages on the website.

Search for a paper

Paper co-ordinator

If the course outline doesn’t answer your question, seek advice from the paper co-ordinator. Their details will be in the course outline on Blackboard.

International Student Advisers

No matter what your concern, you are welcome to contact Otago’s friendly team of International Student Advisers.

If they can’t help you themselves, they will do their very best to get you the information you need, or point you to the correct person who could help.