Designing Instruction for Distance and Online Learning

About this Learning Experience
Have you been charged with developing online instruction for your learners? This module is a good place to develop your skills related to distance and online learning. 

This module is intended to give a brief overview of the differences in types of learning, pacing, and online interactions. It will guide you through how best to develop a community of learners and microlearning units. You will also discover and learn how to apply research-based strategies to create online educational activities that are engaging and well-aligned. 

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

Intended Audience

This module can be beneficial for anyone who is interested in learning more about designing 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 the learning experience, you should be able to:

  • Review the differences in types of learning, pacing options, and learning interactions for learning online.
  • Increase knowledge and skills relevant to building a community of learners, designing an aligned training, and creating microlearning units.
  • Learn the best strategies to use in order to accomplish specific educational activities in distance and online learning.


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.

Included in product

  • Rich Learning Content
  • Interactive Activities
  • Expert-curated Resources
  • Practical Applications
  • Self-paced Learning
  • Digital Badge
  • Non-credit Academic Certificate


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.