One of the many things that 2020 has taught us is that it truly is possible to make meaningful connections in an online space.
For Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology graduate Shai Whetu, forging connections with her classmates was an important part of her online learning journey.
It’s clear within a few minutes of speaking with Shai that she’s sociable and community-minded, so studying on campus seemed like a natural choice when she finished school. However, Shai quickly realised that the commute was just too much.
“It was so hard to get to school,” she says. “I spent a huge amount of time stuck in traffic. If I had to attend a lecture, almost my whole day was gone.”
Keen to explore more flexible options, Shai did some research into online learning in New Zealand, and quickly found out she could enrol with Toi Ohomai and study online through eCampus NZ.
“I rang up in December last year and was able to speak to someone instantly. There was no waiting around to start. Suddenly, I had enrolled and was studying!” she says.
Shai’s dream is to start her own business one day, so she was instantly drawn to the New Zealand Diploma in Business (Marketing and Sales) (Level 5). She chose to take the Marketing and Sales strands to expand on what she already knew.
“I knew that, if I wanted to study, I should choose an aspect of business that I didn’t know about yet,” she says.
As a naturally sociable person, Shai was a little nervous about online learning at first.
“This is the first time I’ve ever studied online,” she says. “I wasn’t too sure with how I would cope.”
But, thanks to her efforts to reach out and connect with her fellow learners, Shai’s fears turned out to be unfounded.
“My favourite part was getting to know the other learners in my course,” she says.
“As soon as I started each course, I’d introduce myself. I sent personal messages to everyone straight away. I actually made a really good friend! We did all the core papers together. We worked together all the time – we would video call to chat and talk about what we were doing. It was so good. I loved that,” she says.
Shai didn’t feel shy about reaching out to all of her classmates because she knew they could help each other through the qualification.
“It meant that we could chat about our ideas with each other, as well as the tutor. It turned one option for getting help into ten options,” she says.
Shai soon realised that she had what it takes to learn online successfully, and she’s now in the process of applying to study by distance with Massey University.
“This qualification taught me that I have the time management skills to make it work,” she says.
Shai also really appreciated the support of her student advisor, Rachel. This support became particularly important to Shai when her and her family were impacted by COVID-19.
“Having Rachel’s support was huge,” she says.
Thank you for all of your contributions to our learning community, Shai, and good luck with the next step in your learning journey. We’ll miss you!