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Targeting students with special needs
One of the main advantages of distance learning in New Zealand is the potential for students with special needs to participate in education. As essay writing service claims: perhaps one of the best recent examples is the case of extramural study offered to New Zealand soldiers who were on peacekeeping duty in East Timor. More than 50 student-soldiers took distance education courses from Massey University in subjects ranging from arts to business studies to information science (The Dominion Wellington 03.31.2000). Major Richard Taylor says that distance education offered by Massey is critical in the continuing education of his troops for two key reasons: first, because ‘study can provide just the stimulation and mental break that the soldiers need’; and second, because soldiers are often posted overseas at short notice (The Dominion Wellington 03.31.2000). Their education need not be disrupted. Of course, soldiers are but one example of students with special needs. Others, such as working mothers and those with full-time jobs constitute part of the 80 per cent of the student body of 17,000 extramural students at Massey who need education that offers flexible timeframes and easily accessible advisers, and distance education library resources (The Dominion Wellington 03.31.2000).
Links to the global education community
A clear advantage of distance education in New Zealand is the link it provides with the global education community. Ormond Tate, the founding president of the Distance Education Association of New Zealand, made great strides in forming crucial links with distance learning providers in countries such as Fiji, Indonesia, Palestine and Zambia (Brock 05.13.1999). New strides continue to be made in creating a truly global format of distance education (language, for instance, poses a challenge), though work is being done on creating more user-friendly, cooperative models (Brown 1995). This is of great value to some rural schools in New Zealand. Geographically isolated parts of the country are slowly developing new ways of improving their access to educational opportunities (Stevens 1995).
Better access to the global education community is also important for students living in urban areas. One of the universal benefits of distance learning are the new opportunities for access to advisers and mentors, libraries and student interchanges through chat-zones and e-mail discussion groups. There is also the significance of access to resource centers and educational materials elsewhere around the world. This kind of interchange holds great potential for developing ‘discussions’ in tutorial groups, that in conventional settings (because of large student numbers) may not be conducive to such interchange.