Learning Design and Development Course

Design, create and evaluate meaningful online learning

Ready to build effective online learning? Apply your knowledge of instructional design theory to design, prototype and evaluate inclusive and relevant online courses.

Note that this course was formerly called Design for Online Learning – we have updated the title and substantially revised the course content to better match learner demand and fit within our Learning Design series. When you enrol, the name of the course may still show as Design for Online Learning, but this will be the new revised course content and structure. This is part of our three-part Learning Design Series

Developed by Dr Cheryl Brown and Dr Kathryn MacCallum.
Three people looking at screens around a table in a university building-instructional-design-development


Gain specialised instructional design knowledge and skills with our three-part Learning Design Series – start with principles of learning design, followed by developing your skills into learning solutions, then learn how to use AI tools to support effective instructional design (coming soon).

Are you familiar with instructional design principles but looking to further your skills in designing online courses for learner engagement and success? Gain the practical skills and confidence you need to create learner-centred and impactful online learning.

Based around the ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation) framework, this course will take you through the full development lifecycle for online courses. You’ll analyse learner needs, design measurable objectives and meaningful assessments for online learners, and then develop tailored online learning that resonates with diverse audiences.

Whether you’re an instructional designer, independent trainer, or educator seeking to build your practical skills, this online micro-credential will give you hands-on practice in creating meaningful online learning. You’ll learn key techniques of project management to apply to your work and develop a tangible portfolio of learning resources to showcase your expertise.

Keen to understand more about the principles of learning design? Our Instructional Design Basics course is a great precursor to this course, laying the foundations for good online course design.

This course is ideal for
  • Learning and development professionals
  • Instructional designers
  • Corporate trainers
  • Professional development specialists
  • Community and other educators

What you'll learn

  • How to analyse needs, characteristics and contexts for learning to create learner-centred course design
  • How to design measurable learning objectives and meaningful assessments that cater to diverse learner needs
  • How to design and prototype online learning resources that are inclusive and culturally responsive
  • How to evaluate and reflect on how suitable your online resources are for your group of learners, and propose improvements 

Course outline

Our courses are flexible, enabling you to plan your study around your other commitments. You can choose to study when it suits you during the learning period (7 October – 8 December, with a one-week study break from 4-10 November), followed by a 2-week review period for marking and feedback (9 –22 December).

We recommend completing around 12 hours of study a week during the learning period (excluding the study break) – you can view the course overview here for more details on assessment timings. 

Module 1: Instructional design principles and strategy
Explore what learning looks like in the online environment, the roles of the learner, the teacher and the learning designer. You’ll also engage with key learning theories and their application in online learning.

Module 2: Analysing learners' needs 
Learn about ways of designing learning that put the learner at the centre, using two key tools: Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy (CRP). Use probing questions, data, and a design thinking toolkit to learn more about your learners.

Module 3: Designing meaningful learning experiences 
Learn how to engage your learners and build a sense of presence which is often hard to do in the online environment. 
Module 4: Developing online learning using latest tools and technologies
Learn how to leverage learning management systems (LMS), content management systems (CMS) and streaming media platforms to implement online learning resources. Discuss social learning and collaborative design strategies. 
Module 5: Implementation and evaluation
Implement and reflect on your learning design process and prototype. Discover and practice different approaches to formative evaluation of your learning design plan.

Module 6: Project managing the design and development
Think about how managing learning is like managing a project, from planning and reporting to engaging with subject experts and stakeholders.
Module 7: Professional practice and stakeholder management
Evaluate your professional practices and learn how to elevate them with collaboration, professional development plans and project management tools and tips.
Module 8: Emerging trends and technologies
Reflect on future developments in learning design and technology. Review your learning over the course and explore the next steps in your learning design journey.  

  • Learning needs analysis and solution proposal = 25%
  • Designing measurable learning outcomes and assessments = 30%
  • Learning design solution = 45%

Upon successful completion of the course, you will be issued a digital badge to recognise your learning achievements. This can take up to 2 months to be delivered after the marking and feedback period.  


This course is equivalent to Level 8 postgraduate study therefore applicants must meet the entry criteria as approved by NZQA, and have; 

  • Either a bachelor's degree or equivalent level qualification
  • OR equivalent professional experience in a relevant field. Learners will be asked to demonstrate equivalent professional experience, which can include paid or voluntary work. If you’d like to check if you have the equivalent professional experience, you can email us at info@uconline.ac.nz  

It is beneficial if learners have background knowledge of instructional design processes and models like ADDIE; or have undertaken Instructional Design Basics or a comparative course. Courses are taught in English and therefore learners should be confident reading, writing and listening in English.

Technology requirements
  • We recommend a laptop or desktop computer and a reliable internet connection.
  • A PDF reader (like Adobe Acrobat Reader DC) to download PDFs with assessment instructions.
  • Word processing software (like Microsoft Word or Google Docs) to complete your assignments.
  • A prototyping tool like Miro, Canva, PowerPoint or Google Slides.
Course fees

Course fees must be paid before learning can begin, either via online credit-card payment, or by contacting info@uconline.ac.nz to request an invoice. Please note: fixed invoice payment dates apply, so we recommend getting in touch with us as soon as possible to request an invoice, as this option is subject to availability.

Group discounts

Get your colleagues together to take advantage of our group discounts: 

  • 10% for 3 - 6 learners
  • 15% for 7+ learners

Contact our Partnerships Manager to learn more and enquire now.

Minimum enrolment threshold

Please note: Tuihono UC | UC Online has a minimum enrolment threshold that must be met to enable opportunities for interaction, discussion, and feedback. If the minimum number of enrolments required for a course is not met, enrolled students will be given the option to defer their enrolment to the next course date, or receive a refund. 

Crediting this course towards a degree

In certain cases, the points from this course can be credited towards further study with UC. Learn more about cross-crediting and recognition of prior learning.

Our people


Dr Cheryl Brown

Professor | University of Canterbury | School of Educational Studies and Leadership

Cheryl Brown is a Professor at the University of Canterbury’s School of Educational Studies and Leadership.

Her research interests centre on access to ICTs and how they facilitate or inhibit student participation in learning. She’s recently looked more closely at the role technological devices (like cell phones and tablets) play in students' learning in a developing context and the development of students' digital literacy practices.

She’s also led research projects on digital education leadership, personal mobile devices in learning and teaching, and developing e-learning professionals in Africa.


Dr Kathryn MacCallum

Associate Professor | Digital Education Futures | University of Canterbury | School of Educational Studies and Leadership

Kathryn MacCallum is an Associate Professor of Digital Education Futures in the University of Canterbury’s School of Educational Studies and Leadership.

She’s established a strong research background that focuses on integrating digital tools into a tertiary curriculum.

She’s led and been involved in several research projects that explore the role of technology (and more recently AR and VR) to support learners.

Please note: our academic team develop and present video content within their courses, but are not always the course facilitator. The course facilitator will engage with learners in the course forums, answer queries and mark assignments.