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Book celebrates 50 years of distance learning


Professor Emeritus Tom Prebble signs a copy of From
a Distance
for Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey.

A new book celebrating the University’s 50th Jubilee of distance learning was officially launched at the Manawatu campus on Monday.

Written by former director of extramural studies Professor Emeritus Tom Prebble, From a Distance: 50th Jubilee of Distance Learning focuses on the 25 years since 1986.

It covers the rapid growth of distance learning, the evolution of media used to deliver and support teaching and the systems employed to run the large and complex service. It reflects the changing face of extramural students over those years and explores a number of challenging policy developments that the programme has engaged with.

The book follows John Owens’ Beyond the Walls publication in 1985 marking the first 25 years.

Professor Prebble says writing the account of the second 25 years of an endeavour posed a few challenges. “It is not often that one is given the opportunity to reflect at length on a series of events and activities to which one has devoted a large part of one’s working life,” he writes. “Memory tends to put an increasingly warm glow on past events and one’s own contribution to them.”

Professor Prebble says that with increasing stress on programme completion and proposed changes to university entrance, the University faces “a tough challenge if it wishes to continue to offer a second chance to adult New Zealanders wanting to make a difference to their lives”.

In 1960 there were about 500 extramural students; today there are more than 17,000. About 250,000 people have enrolled over the half-century.

Both books are available for digital download from the University’s website: and Professor Prebble’s book will be sold by the Alumni Shop at the Manawatu campus or ordered online

The Extramural Students’ Society will launch its own commemorative publication on November 30. Written by Peter Hawes, focus on the student experience.

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