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Experts Advise Polytechnics On Flexible Educaton

For immediate release, Wednesday 29 November 2006

Going "Online" Experts Advise Polytechnics On Flexible Educaton

Two experts in on-line education - based at Gippsland TAFE Victoria, Australia - are visiting New Zealand this month to assist polytechnics adapt to the demands of delivering education in a high-employment economy.

Brad Beach, Manager Innovation and Organisational Development and Vanessa Marsh Online Learning Lecturer and Project Officer, work at Central Gippsland TAFE. Mr Beach specialises in the area of on-line facilitation and is the author and creator of GippsTAFE Online Facilitation (Communicating and Teaching Online) course which is offered on a global scale. Leading the development of online learning since 1999, Ms Marsh has been instrumental in implementing and delivering the award-winning VET in Schools Hospitality online programme across the South and West Gippsland Regions.

Beach and Marsh are being brought to New Zealand by the Tertiary Accord of New Zealand (TANZ), a collaborative network of polytechnics comprising Otago Polytechnic, Universal College of Learning (Palmerston North), Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology, Manukau Institute of Technology and the Eastern Institute of Technology.

Otago Polytechnic Chief Executive Phil Ker points out that as New Zealand continues a period of high employment, tertiary providers are looking beyond their existing models of delivering tertiary education, in support of industry and the economy.

"Polytechnics play a crucial role in addressing staff shortages, especially in technical and applied learning. Employers are looking to vocational educators to provide qualified staff and where we can't keep up with the demand they have to employ staff with inadequate qualifications, and up-skill or retrain those staff in the workplace. As a result, many of the people who require training are in full-time work. We now need to find better and more effective ways of reaching them, and meeting theirs' and their employers' training needs."

In addition to providing training and education to people already in employment, on line education can benefit others - including parents of young children - for whom it can be too difficult to attend classes on campus, says Mr Ker.

On- line learning is also making education increasingly accessible to those based in remote or rural areas, potentially helping these smaller communities to retain their workforces. With it's main campus in Dunedin and a satellite campus in Cromwell, Otago Polytechnic has expanded its Learning Centres to include Cromwell, Wanaka, Queenstown, Alexandra, Balcultha, Milton, Mosgiel and South Dunedin. Our move to open more Learning Centres, especially in the regions, has made the on-line learning expertise of Brad Beach and Vanessa Marsh especially relevant, Mr Ker says.


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