Important information for Distance Students: From 2015, distance paper codes will no longer be distinguished with an X. Distance students should enrol as External students.
Distance Learning in Theology
The Department has a comprehensive and well established distance learning programme that serves a very large number of students throughout New Zealand and even overseas.
By offering our papers on the distance learning network we have been able to remove a significant barrier to participation in the study of Theology. Students in Dunedin who are unable to attend lectures during the day may also enrol in distance learning papers.
We aim to offer the compulsory core papers every year by distance, and most other papers every second or third year. You should be able to complete any qualification from wherever you live in much the same timeframe as a campus student, though with fewer papers to choose from in any particular year.
Some students who are taking postgraduate research courses choose to do these by distance.
Our modes of delivering our distance papers
We have thought carefully about how we can make you as a distance student feel connected to – not isolated from – your lecturers and fellow students. We offer a blended-learning model that involves videoconferences, face-to-face teaching days, and online learning. This mix of delivery methods supplies regular opportunities for you to connect, so you are not left feeling isolated or on your own. In addition you will receive course materials containing a study guide, reading material and general administrative information. You will also have access to the University's Distance Library Service.
Videoconferences usually take place during the evening anywhere from three to seven times a semester. To access a videoconference you will need a computer with a webcam and headset microphone. We use a program called Zoom as the environment for videoconferences. This is easy to use (certainly once you are familiar with it) and brings a number of advantages – not least in being able to see your lecturer and fellow students, and in being able to signal that you would like to contribute to the discussion.
On the page called Essential Student Information you will find the instructions you need to access a videoconference. These are generally run as seminars, with discussion of key questions essential to the course. A recording will be made available as a podcast shortly after each conference if you have had to miss it, but do attend if at all possible: your preparation and participation make a critical difference to the learning experience not just for you but for all your fellow students.
Some papers may also include elements of face-to-face teaching or online discussion.
Most 200-, 300- and 400-level papers include teaching days. Some videoconference-based papers include teaching days. These days are designed to make face-to-face teaching possible for the majority of enrolled students. They are usually scheduled early in the semester in order to encourage participation and a sense of community that will enhance the experience of the audioconferences and, where it forms part of the assessment, online discussion.
These teaching days generally take place in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin. The same content is taught in each place, so you should choose the location that is most convenient to you.
Details of the venue for these days will be provided in the Course Outline and on Blackboard. You should plan to arrive between 9:00 and 9:30am; the day will finish at 4.00pm. The exception to this is the Dunedin teaching day, where you will join with campus students in a session that usually begins at 3.30pm and ends at 9.00pm.
Teaching days are a very valuable part of the student experience, enhancing and reinforcing the various dimensions of the learning process; and it is extremely helpful for students and lecturers to meet, and for students to meet each other. Shortly after the teaching days have been completed each lecturer will post a podcast summarizing the main learning points of the teaching day for those students who were unable to attend.
Please note that teaching days in each location are ultimately dependent on enrolments! If there are not a sufficient number of enrolled students living near a particular centre then the teaching day in that centre will be cancelled. It is unlikely that this will occur, but you need to be aware that the dates for the teaching days outlined here are provisional. Students are asked to please contact firstname.lastname@example.org once they have decided on which venue they will attend.
Students come together with their lecturer in a centre just before the semester begins, usually for five days. You will be asked to do some reading beforehand and you will complete your assessment throughout the semester.
Students participate in an online forum to discuss questions related to the course materials. Each forum covers about two weeks’ worth of material and students can contribute at any time during the period.
In addition to responding to questions set by the lecturer, students are encouraged to raise for discussion other matters from their reading.