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An extraordinary educator

Great teachers know how to bring out the best in their students. It takes an extraordinary teacher to do this in the digital realm. Shaw James, facilitator at TANZ eCampus, personifies this quality.

It’s hard to know whether his intellectual discipline and moral compass – owing to 32 years in the New Zealand Air Force – can be credited for his success as an educator, or his own extensive education – Shaw has an Engineering Degree and Masters Degrees in both Philosophy and Strategic Studies. Needless to say, Shaw’s students are the deserving beneficiaries of his passion and worldly knowledge.

“I was New Zealand born and raised and joined the Airforce as an engineering officer right out of school. I had some great diplomatic career opportunities overseas which I took including in London, Belgium and then later in Canada.  These experiences fueled my interest in different cultures and history, which I have found helpful in the increasingly diverse education field.”

When retirement came knocking, Nelson, New Zealand was Shaw and his wife’s choice. “I spent almost a year relaxing by planting trees and reclaiming swamps for Forest and Bird. Then my wife saw an advertisement for someone to create a Supply Chain and Logistics Course for Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT).”

A teaching job with NMIT then beckoned, with Shaw also developing a total of six courses for NMIT during his time there. “If I had known how much satisfaction I would derive from teaching adults to do things, I think I would have done it sooner.”

“I got into TANZ eCampus by developing a course before I taught. I enjoy the opportunities to teach management and compliance, project management and leadership. Online learning is a new field, niche, and we have been polishing the diamond as rapidly as we can with a great deal of progress over the last 18 months.

“Personally, I have found a lot of satisfaction working as part of a group of people who are dedicated to producing a great online product. Online teaching comes with its challenges – the need to make it convincing and captivating. It’s about looking at how you do this through the medium of a screen to engage people who are determined to increase their portfolio of qualifications but may be in a situation where they are really exhausted at the end of a long day or week.

“All we can do is provide good support, and it seems to me that what my students really appreciate – apart from great material – is the extra value we can offer. For example, if I provide some in-depth feedback to my student, detailing why they got the mark they did, and if I can get that result back to them within 24 hours or no more than 48 hours after they submitted their work, that is a huge satisfier for them.”

When not working, Shaw enjoys being with his family and being challenged by his mokopuna (granddaughter), who is four.