Learning support for distance learners

Towards the future


  • Ruth Thomas Toi Ohomai Te Pūkenga




Te Pūkenga, learner voice, academic support, online learning, online learning support, face-to-face learning support


Following the merger of Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and Waiariki Institute of Technology to become Toi Ohomai Te Pūkenga, the newly formed Te Ranga Eke Panuku / Learning Success and Engagement (LSE) team combined and redeveloped their services. In this article the author reflects on her ATLAANZ 2022 conference presentation, which shared distance students’ perspectives from her master’s research on the revised services. The author’s study explored whether and how the LSE services were meeting student needs and how the services could be further improved. Analysis of the survey (n=278) and interview (n=12) data revealed gaps in awareness of support services across all learner groups. However, distance students were less connected to the support services than on-campus learners, and the researcher found unmet academic and pastoral needs among distance participants. In addition, participants stated that they had been looking for ways to express their opinions and saw the research survey as an opportunity to ‘have their say’ to make improvements. As per the Pastoral Education (Pastoral Care of Tertiary and International Learners) Code of Practice 2021, the LSE team has increased promotion of services for distance learners, and developed more resources. A booking system now gives ākonga agency in accessing the services, and tutors can similarly book in-class support. The research illustrates that all Te Pūkenga students, whether distance, campus-based, or work-based, require access to online services during flexible hours. Further, every distance and work-based learner, should be able to access face-to-face support at their nearest campus, alongside their campus-based peers, within and beyond regular hours.


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