Postgraduate taught 

Academic Practice MEd: Online distance learning

Designing Online Education: MOOCs, micro-credentials and online, distance learning EDUC51058

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: Learning Enhancement and Acad Dev Service
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Taught Wholly by Distance Learning: Yes

Short Description

The modern higher education environment is making increasing use of online learning through fully online degree programmes and smaller, more targeted offerings such as massive open online courses (MOOCs) and micro-credential courses delivered at a distance. These digital approaches to education require knowledge and understanding of the platforms for remote learning as well as a distinct learning design process compared to more traditional campus-based education. This course will equip its learners with the knowledge of appropriate online learning design before encouraging them to explore online learning designs and pedagogies specifically focused on remote delivery.


This course will follow an online, remote delivery design. This will involve around 7 hours of asynchronous learning (including pre-recorded materials) throughout the duration of the course and 3 x 1 hours of timetabled synchronous tutorials at key points.

Excluded Courses



The assessment is in two parts: a rationale (50%) and a design (50%).


1. Rationale (equivalent to ~1000 words): primarily assessing ILO1 students will produce a rationale that compares and contrasts a number of online learning design frameworks or approaches before detailing a framework and the chosen design approaches utilised in the second assessment component ('the design'). The rationale and reflection can be submitted as a written document or could be delivered via video or podcast with an equivalent coverage.


2. Design (equivalent to one 'unit' of teaching): primarily assessing ILO2 students will produce an online distance learning content design map covering 1 week of material sequencing (the course material itself does not need to be produced). Learners will justify their chosen design approach and sequencing of activities via a short podcast/video capture (around 5 - 8 minutes in duration) that showcases how their planned material will meet their course pedagogies and ILOs.

Course Aims

The aim of this course is to provide participants with the opportunity to develop their practical and theoretical skill set in the context of design for a range of online offerings. This includes collaborative course content design mapping approaches, mapping content to learning types and also explores designing for large scale.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

1. Critically evaluate a range of frameworks and approaches for online learning design in higher education; and

2. Design and develop components of an online course relevant to their own context.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.