Pinelopi Zaka

'UC enables students to study in a friendly environment where there are high levels of support...'

  • Pinelopi zaka

Postgraduate Diploma in Education with an endorsement in e-Learning and Digital Technologies in Education

Master of Education

Flexible Learning Advisor, e-Learning Support, University of Canterbury

Originally from Greece, where she started her career in primary school teaching, Pinelopi was keen to go on to study at postgraduate level overseas.

'I was always interested in new technologies and their implementation in education through e-learning. As ICT has taken an increasingly important role in our everyday lives and students have become more familiar with new technologies out of school, it is important to provide them with e-learning opportunities in the classroom,' she says.

'Blended teaching and learning – a combination of both online and face-to-face approaches in the classroom – is a fast developing area in educational providers in New Zealand and across the world. Through my master's research, I looked at how blended teaching and learning is implemented in schools and how teachers, students and school leaders experience educational change with blended approaches.’  

Pinelopi enjoyed studying at UC for several reasons. 'I think that UC enables students to study in a friendly environment where there are high levels of support related to many aspects of student life. I also really enjoyed studying in a multicultural environment where I could interact with people from different cultures, share different experiences and realise that we all have many things in common. Finally, I found it exciting to visit so many beautiful places in New Zealand during my studies.'

From an academic point of view, she is very happy about the new skills she developed with the support of her tutors. 'On the one hand their experience and guidance really helped me enrich my knowledge, but on the other hand it motivated me to further develop my skills. I think that, at postgraduate level, the work students do independently is very important, but what is also crucial is to be given enough incentives, guidance and support from instructors to enhance the quality of students' research process.' She adds that her involvement in the College of Education e-Learning Lab also gave her the opportunity to work with other professionals in e-learning, expanding her knowledge and research experience in this field.

Pinelopi points out that a decision to study towards any postgraduate qualification requires considerable motivation. 'Although postgraduate study is very important for developing a professional career, it is also essential to have a passion for what you do. I would advise other students not to give up on their dreams and to always try to achieve their goals. For example, studying overseas is not an easy objective to achieve, especially for students with little financial support. It has been my goal for the last five years and I had to work really hard to be able to do it. But once we really know what we want to do and focus on our objective, nothing is impossible.'

Following her master’s degree, Pinelopi worked full-time at the e-Learning Lab and later at Christchurch’s Science Alive as a science educator. Now, she works at UC as a Flexible Learning Advisor for the e-learning Support Team. ‘What I enjoy the most about this role is working with different academic staff and supporting them in harnessing the potential of e-Learning. I am really excited about joining the University as staff and about the opportunity to pursue my career goals in the field of e-Learning.’

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