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Creating Courses

Online Teaching:
Creating Courses for Adult Learners


Learn the practical skills you need to build and deliver online courses successfully

Many institutions have had to rush to put their teaching online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This ‘online pivot’ in education is likely to become permanent as educators create more and more opportunities for online and blended learning. For many adult educators, knowing how to create engaging online courses will be an essential skill needed beyond the coronavirus crisis.

A a pioneer in distance and online learning, The Open University is in a unique position to help support you in moving your provision online. With this new microcredential, we’ll be sharing the knowledge and best practice that have kept us at the forefront of distance learning for over 50 years.

You’ll discover how adults learn online – and at a distance – drawing on key theories. You’ll evaluate technologies for supporting online and distance learning in specific contexts, utilising a range of experiences and research to learn how to create engaging and inspiring online courses successfully. On completion, you’ll have developed a practical plan for taking your teaching and learning online, in a way that is safe and accessible for a variety of learners.

Key features

  • Delivered in partnership with the worldwide online learning platform, FutureLearn
  • Created by distance learning experts in The Open University's Institute of Educational Technology
  • Immediately apply new skills to your own practice
  • Opportunity to gain postgraduate-level academic credit in just 12 weeks of study.

Course summary

Study level
OU – Postgraduate
SCQF – 11
FHEQ – 7
12 weeks | 13 hours per week
Next start dates
15 March 2021
28 June 2021

What you’ll learn

UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation) reports that over 91% of the world’s student population – a total of 1,576,021,818 learners across 188 countries and in all sectors – were affected in spring 2020 by the closure of educational institutions as part of a broader ‘lockdown’ strategy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many institutions have had to rush their teaching online, at an unprecedented scale. Student assessment has also been affected, with many exams cancelled and others moved online, creating uncertainty for all involved.

Regardless of when the pandemic ends, knowing how to create engaging online courses for adults will be a key skill moving forward, now that distance and online learning are used so widely.

On this microcredential, you’ll cover topics including:

  • What’s involved in teaching remotely, and in being an online educator.
  • How students learn online and at a distance.
  • How to evaluate the appropriateness of pedagogies for specific sectors, subjects, study outcomes and learners.
  • Strategies for implementing online and distance teaching and learning approaches.
  • How to design online and distance courses, and choose the right technologies for delivery.
  • Approaches to creating assessments at a distance and online.
  • How to support diverse learners, in diverse contexts, online and at a distance.
  • The benefits of online and distance learning.
  • How to identify, and navigate, the ethical implications of moving your provision online.
  • How to work safely when teaching online, including how to support your learners’ safety.

By the end of the course, you’ll have learnt how to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how adults learn online, and at a distance, drawing on key theories.
  • Identify and evaluate a range of online teaching and learning methods in terms of their appropriateness for specific settings and learners.
  • Identify and evaluate technologies for supporting online and distance learning in specific contexts, drawing on a range of experience and research accounts.
  • Design online teaching and learning activities, courses and assessment that meet diverse learners’ needs, drawing on a range of evidence to support your design decisions.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how online teaching, learning and assessment can be made safe and accessible to diverse learners.

Ultimately, you’ll discover how adults learn online, and the strategies and learning approaches for implementing online and distance teaching. You’ll explore some of the many possibilities offered by learning with technology, and investigate the benefits and challenges of approaches to online learning, that will have long-term career value beyond lockdown and the coronavirus crisis.

This microcredential is part of a planned suite of courses addressing aspects of online education. This microcredential incorporates content from an existing OU module, Technology-enhanced Learning: Foundations and Futures (H880). If you have already completed H880, or are currently studying it, please contact us before registering.


The course allows you to apply your learning immediately in your own context.

Throughout your study, you’ll develop your own plan for taking your teaching and learning online. You’ll be encouraged to share this plan with other students in order to gain feedback.

At the end of the course, you’ll submit this plan, accompanied by a reflective commentary, for assessment.

Professional relevance

This microcredential would benefit anyone currently working, or looking to work in, universities, colleges or wider adult learning settings as a:

  • Teacher
  • Trainer
  • Learning designer
  • Educational technologist
  • Head of department
  • Institution leader.

This course has a global focus and the skills you’ll learn will be relevant for learners from countries around the world.

On completion

You’ll receive an Open University certificate confirming that you have received 15 academic credits at postgraduate level 7. Credits are awarded on passing the final assessment.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations, which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

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Start dates

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