Delivering Instruction for Distance and Online Learning

About this Learning Experience

There’s no better time than now to learn how to design instruction for distance and online learning. While many of the design considerations for instruction remain the same, the fact that it’s instruction for a virtual classroom and not a bricks-and-mortar classroom has implications. Things that are easy to do in person may be more cumbersome or downright impossible in distance or online learning.

This module is intended to walk you through the steps of designing instruction for distance and online learning. We will provide you with best practices and selected resources to explore for designing distance and online instruction.

This video provides a brief introduction to the Delivering Instruction for Distance and Online Learning experience. 

Intended Audience

This module can be beneficial for anyone who is interested in learning more about delivering instruction for distance and online learning. We developed the content with these specific job roles in mind:

Learning and Development (L&D) — Anyone who works in fields related to employee learning and professional development needs to have an understanding of how learning takes place online, and how that learning is different from face-to-face instruction. This includes curriculum developers, instructional designers, training and development coordinators, and talent managers. L&D professionals need to be flexible and ready to provide training and resources to employees, no matter where they’re working.

Trainers and Teachers — Both classroom teachers and workplace trainers understand processes of learning when it happens face-to-face. Online learning involves a shift in perspective, both in how content is delivered and in how the learner interacts with the content. Taking instructional materials designed for face-to-face instruction and preparing them for use in an online environment is difficult and requires thinking about motivation and engagement in new ways.

Human Resources Professionals — As more and more workplaces embrace flexible work hours, nontraditional workplace environments, and an increasing percentage of remote workers, online training is becoming the norm. Taking legally mandated or industry-specific compliance training online can be a daunting task. HR professionals need to know how to measure the effectiveness of the training both to keep employees safe and to ensure organizations stay in compliance with industry standards and state and federal laws.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this learning experience, you should be able to:

  • Explore the roles of social, cognitive, and teaching presence in delivering instruction for distance and online learning.
  • Understand the difference between being a sage-on-the-stage and a guide-on-the-side.
  • Recognize the role of synchronous and asynchronous discussions in sustaining a community of learners.
  • Increase knowledge and skills relevant to instructor teaching techniques for directing and facilitating synchronous and asynchronous discussions.
  • Examine the importance of rubrics and rating scales in discussions.
  • Recognize how to address common classroom management issues in online and distance learning.
  • Explore the role of feedback in distance and online learning.
  • Understand how to give effective feedback to online learners.


Approximately 2 hours of instruction to be completed during a 4 week period of time.

This online module provides an asynchronous (does not take place in real-time), self-paced learning experience available 24/7 that allows four weeks for completion. You will engage with self-knowledge checks, videos, and interactive activities designed to bring the content to life in a dynamic, flexible format without the constraints of a scheduled class meeting time.

You will earn a digital badge and non-credit academic certificate upon completion of the online module. Our non-credit academic certificates are designed for professionals who complete a minimum number of equivalent contact hours of online education modules with or without continuing education units (CEUs), in a select topic area.

Module Designers/Developers
This module is part of the Center on Education and Training for Employment’s online learning experiences. It was created by Patricia Hughes-FitzgeraldAdrienne Boggs, and Alicia Willis.