• The Open University

Online Teaching: Creating Courses for Adult Learners

Learn how to design engaging and accessible online courses and ensure your online teaching is equitable and meets learners' needs.

Online Teaching: Creating Courses for Adult Learners
  • Duration12 weeks
  • Weekly study13 hours
This course is part of the Online Teaching: Creating Courses for Adult Learners program, which will enable you to get the skills to teach adults online and at a distance.

Design effective and equitable online teaching, learning and assessment.

This course has been developed by online learning experts at The Open University’s Institute of Educational Technology. The course is designed to support institutions and individual educators who are moving their teaching online. It is relevant to all adult learning sectors and has a strong focus on practice. Throughout the course, you will design teaching and assessment that enable online learners to achieve their study goals. You will also evaluate different technologies, and study theories that explain how people learn. Beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, the course has value for individuals and institutions who want to develop online teaching and learning strategies that are equitable, accessible and appropriate to their learners’ needs.

Syllabus

  • Week 1

    Introduction to the course

    • Welcome to the course

      In this activity, you'll meet the educators, find out what's involved in studying this course and gain an overview of several ways of teaching at a distance.

    • About the course

      Find out about what’s in the course, how you’ll learn and what the assessment involves.

    • Introducing online and distance learning

      In this activity, you'll compare several ways of teaching at a distance, including online learning, blended learning and technology-enhanced learning. You'll share your own experiences and priorities with your fellow learners.

    • Week 1 review

      In this activity, you'll assess your learning with a short quiz, reflect on your study of this week's material and prepare for next week. The Help Area provides an opportunity to ask the course Mentor questions.

  • Week 2

    Online learners and educators

    • Learning contexts

      In this activity, you'll look at how context influences learning, and at aspects of context you can take into account when teaching online.

    • Learning to learn

      This activity is an opportunity to consider the skills and techniques necessary for online learners and how these can be acquired and developed over time.

    • The 21st-century educator

      In this activity, you will explore the roles involved in being an online educator and how they are performed differently in diverse contexts and sectors.

    • Getting support

      In this activity, you'll look at how online collaboration and knowledge-sharing can support your move to teaching online.

    • Week 2 review

      In this activity, you'll assess your learning with a short quiz, reflect on your study of this week's material and prepare for next week. The Help Area provides an opportunity to ask the course Mentor questions.

  • Week 3

    Understanding how people learn online

    • Learning and teaching

      There are different ways of thinking about teaching and learning. This activity introduces the main ones and some of the ways in which teaching online is different.

    • Learning together

      This activity is an opportunity to consider why learning together is important, both online and offline.

    • Ways of learning together

      This activity is an introduction to different ways of structuring opportunities for learning together, both online and at a distance.

    • Group activity

      In this activity, you'll discover strategies for making group work a positive experience for learners.

    • Week 3 review

      In this activity, you'll assess your learning with a short quiz, reflect on your study of this week's material and prepare for next week. The Help area provides an opportunity to ask the course Mentor questions.

  • Week 4

    Designing for online learning

    • Designing learning

      In this activity, you'll explore learning design – a way of mapping out in advance what we want our learners to achieve and what sort of teaching and learning activities might allow them to do so.

    • Planning courses and lessons

      In this activity, you'll use learning design methods and tools to begin planning the lessons you'll develop for your assessment.

    • Meeting diverse learners' needs

      In this activity, you'll explore how Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can be a basis for designing online courses and lessons that meet the needs of diverse learners.

    • Week 4 review

      In this activity, you'll assess your learning with a short quiz, reflect on your study of this week's material and prepare for next week. The Help Area provides an opportunity to ask the course Mentor questions.

  • Week 5

    Online teaching and learning activities, strategies and techniques

    • Learning at a distance

      This activity is an opportunity to consider some of the reasons why online and distance learning provide specific challenges for motivation.

    • Facing the challenges

      In this activity, you'll find out that some reasons for lack of engagement apply to any educational setting. You'll consider these challenges and how they can be addressed.

    • Designing for engagement

      In this activity, you'll learn some different ways of designing your courses so that they motivate students and encourage them to engage.

    • Week 5 review

      In this activity, you'll assess your understanding of Week 5, reflect on the week's study and continue developing your reflection portfolio.

  • Week 6

    Working on your assessment

    • Reviewing the assessment tasks

      In this activity, you'll review the five parts of the assessment and the criteria against which your work will be assessed.

    • Week 6 review

      In this activity, you'll prepare for next week. The Help Area provides an opportunity to ask the course Mentor questions.

  • Week 7

    Open resources, pedagogies and practices

    • Openness and online learning

      In this activity, you'll explore some of the ways in which online learning can be made more open, plus the benefits for learners, educators and institutions.

    • Opening up resources

      In this activity, you'll explore some of the different types of educational resource that can be made more open and the benefits of doing so.

    • Opening up practices

      In this activity, you'll explore some of the ways in which educators can work more openly, including the use of an open pedagogy approach.

    • Week 7 review

      In this activity, you'll assess your learning with a short quiz, reflect on your study of this week's material and prepare for next week. The Help Area provides an opportunity to ask the course Mentor questions.

  • Week 8

    Online and open assessment and feedback - Part 1

    • Assessment

      This activity is an opportunity to consider the different roles that assessment plays in learning and the possibilities and challenges associated with online assessment.

    • Multiple-choice questions

      In this activity, you will explore different ways of using multiple-choice quizzes to support learning.

    • Renewable assessment

      In this activity, you will be looking at how assessment can be made less disposable.

    • Week 8 review

      In this activity, you'll assess your learning with a short quiz, reflect on your study of this week's material and prepare for next week. The Help Area provides an opportunity to ask the course Mentor questions.

  • Week 9

    Online and open assessment and feedback - Part 2

    • Group assessment

      In this activity, you'll look at the challenges posed by group assessment and a range of possible solutions.

    • Feedback

      In this activity, you'll explore approaches to feedback that emphasise effort and improvement, encouraging students to persevere and develop successful learning strategies.

    • Assessment post-COVID-19

      In this activity, you'll look at how assessment choices may change following the online pivot and the pandemic.

    • Week 9 review

      In this activity, you'll assess your learning with a short quiz, reflect on your study of this week's material and prepare for next week. The Help Area provides an opportunity to ask the course Mentor questions.

  • Week 10

    Equitable, accessible and safe online teaching

    • Perspectives on equitable education

      In this activity, you'll consider some of the ways in which online learning can prevent equitable access to education.

    • Care and the online educator

      In this activity you'll explore the need for a 'pedagogy of care', and what this might involve.

    • The risks of openness and social media

      In this activity, you'll consider some of the risks of openness in education, and of using social media. You'll also explore strategies for managing those risks and supporting your students' safety online.

    • Accessibility and equitable education

      In this activity you'll explore how accessibility guidelines can be used to help ensure online education is equitable to all, and that technology-related barriers to learning are minimised.

    • Week 10 review

      In this activity, you'll assess your learning with a short quiz, reflect on your study of this week's material and prepare for next week. The Help area provides an opportunity to ask the course Mentor questions.

  • Week 11

    Educator as technologist and innovator

    • Selecting educational technologies

      In this activity, you'll explore how educators can choose from the vast array of educational technologies on offer, and look at the relationship between pedagogy, technology, and learners' needs.

    • Exploring the options

      In this activity, you'll look in detail at effective use of technology including lecture capture, virtual worlds and a range of approaches with different requirements for technology.

    • Assistive technology

      In this activity, you'll explore how assistive technology and dedicated apps can help educators to meet diverse learners' needs, leading to a more positive study experience .

    • Week 11 review

      In this activity, you'll assess your learning with a short quiz, reflect on your study of this week's material and prepare for the final week of the course. The Help Area provides an opportunity to ask the course Mentor questions.

  • Week 12

    Conclusion and preparing your assessment

    • Assessment overview

      In this activity, you'll explore the five parts of the assessment and the criteria against which your work will be assessed.

    • Important guidance about your assessment

      In this activity, you'll be given information about using quotes, referencing and the process for submitting your assessment.

    • Thank you and good luck!

      In this final activity, we wish you well for the future. Thank you for joining us on the course!

Who is the course for?

This microcredential has a global focus and the skills you’ll learn will be relevant for learners from countries around the world. It is intended for teachers, trainers, learning designers, educational technologists, heads of department and institution leaders in a variety of adult education settings, especially universities and colleges.

What software or tools do you need?

To take part in this course you’ll need a computer and an internet connection. No specific software or tools are required.

Who will you learn with?

I lead The Open University's Online and Distance Education programme. My research specialisms include the impact of open pedagogies on learning and wellbeing, and gender equity in the developing world

I'm a senior lecturer at The Open University, focused on educational futures, learning analytics, MOOCs, innovating pedagogy & online social learning.

I am Professor of Educational Technology at the OU. My interests are in digital scholarship, open education, OER and MOOCs.

I'm an Open University tutor and consultant researcher, specialising in inclusive online learning, and educational technologies & mental health. I’ve also written OU course materials on these topics.

My professional focus is on supporting the design and delivery of online learning for both secondary and tertiary learners. My specific area of inquiry centres around creating access for all.

OU Microcredential Study Advisor (HZFM881),
Associate Lecturer and Consultant at The Open University. Specialising in online teaching and learning, the arts and music.

Who developed the course?

The Open University

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning, with a mission to be open to people, places, methods and ideas.

  • Established1969
  • LocationMilton Keynes, UK
  • World rankingTop 510Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020