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Postgraduate Diploma in Online and Distance Education - Learning Outcomes

Educational aims

The diploma is designed to meet the needs of practitioners and non-practitioners worldwide who are using new technologies in their professional context. It provides postgraduate professional development for lecturers, teachers, trainers, learning media specialists, and library and support staff who wish to learn more about online teaching and learning, and about flexible learning that blends face-to-face and distance education. It is not necessary to be based in an educational institution, however, as students from a wide range of work contexts have studied these modules successfully - including managers in business organisations, teachers of languages, consultants and trainers.

Learning outcomes

The modules that can lead to this qualification each have their own distinctive content but also have a range of learning outcomes that are applicable to them all. Studying this qualification will enable you to continue to practise and improve those skills developed at certificate level.

Knowledge and understanding

When you have completed this qualification, you will have developed your ability to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • theories and debates relevant to the field of technology-enhanced learning, including online and distance learning
  • the kinds of evidence, and their related methods of enquiry/research, that inform practice and the evaluation of practice in technology-enhanced learning and teaching
  • learner experience and the effects associated with technology practices, for example in relation to diversity, accessibility and student retention/ progression issues 
  • strengths and weaknesses of different learning designs and delivery of digital learning opportunities, including choices that learners and practitioners make, and why.

Cognitive skills

When you have completed this qualification, you will have developed your ability to:

  • analyse evidence about the effects of technologies for learning and teaching and use this in forming judgements about their strengths and weaknesses
  • critically evaluate the literature of the field, locating and engaging with a wide range of formal and informal sources, including those mediated by new forms of technology
  • engage in online collaboration and debate in order to develop your own and others’ understanding and awareness of practice contexts
  • initiate, plan and execute a piece of independent work, using appropriate media, whether text, video, visual, audio or some combination
  • structure and present arguments in text in large part using your own words
  • reflect on and use feedback from both peers and experts to improve your own learning.

Practical and/or professional skills

When you have completed this qualification, you will have developed your ability to:

  • reflect critically on your own practice in technology-enhanced learning
  • be sensitive to and respectful of different cultural and language issues in online communication
  • outline/plan the deployment of appropriate policies, research, resources or procedures in relation to the requirements of a specific context or purpose that involves technology-enhanced learning.

Key skills

When you have completed this qualification, you will have developed your ability to:

  • produce pieces of written text using appropriate scholarly structures such as referencing systems and abstracts
  • develop online communication skills as contributors and facilitators
  • use computer-based tools/applications to present ideas and information 
  • use collaborative online activities to further your own knowledge and understanding.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

You will be a member of an online tutor group where you will engage in collaborative learning with other students with the support of your tutor. You'll be supported in both your group and individual study activities by a named tutor. There are no face-to-face activities involved in the modules that comprise this diploma but support is provided to you through other media, including email, online forums and real-time online tuition, in addition to extensive online materials.

The teaching and learning are both guided and resource-based with a mix of media including the internet and online forums and the use of journal articles and other resources accessed via the OU Library.

The tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) are designed to support the diploma's outcomes as specified. Assessment is wide-ranging from traditional essays to practical web-based tasks and reflective writing. For the final project (examinable component) of each module you will undertake a longer piece of work appropriate to the specific module being studied and to your own professional practice.

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