Online learning offered

The Otago Polytechnic is teaming up with four other New Zealand tertiary institutions to launch a new online learning platform.

The platform, called TANZ eCampus, will offer more than 40 online courses recognised by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).

Otago Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker said the polytech had invested $500,000 in the collaboration with Ara Institute of Canterbury, Universal College of Learning Palmerston North, Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology and the Eastern Institute of Technology.

"Setting up an online learning space is very expensive and we could not have done this on our own,'' he said.

The institutions had worked together for three years to create a model which would cover a wide range of courses aimed at people already in the work force.

The polytech would initially provide online courses in business management. However, it would also provide courses on sustainable agriculture and tertiary teacher education in the future, he said.

Course fees would be similar to those of on-campus courses, but "certainly not more''.

The online platform would target a group of potential learners presently being ignored, he said.

"This is a very positive thing. It is compatible with what we already do because it enables us to reach learners that you would not otherwise reach.

"The main advantage is it offers flexibility.''

Polytech staff had been ``redeployed'' as a result of the platform, and there was a possibility new staff would be hired to work on content for the platform in the future, he said.

The platform hoped to have 250 equivalent full-time students, or 2000 online enrolments, by the end of 2016.

"This is a modest number but we want to get it right,'' Mr Ker said.

TANZ eCampus executive director Pamela Simpson said students would be supported by ``real people''.

"They will each have a personal adviser who will follow them through their learning journey, as well as access to experienced course facilitators who are dedicated to helping them achieve their study goals.''

margot.taylor@odt.co.nz

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