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Postgraduate Certificate in Online and Distance Education

This certificate course is part of a programme of qualifications that starts with this postgraduate certificate and culminates in the MA. These qualifications are presented by The Open University's Institute of Educational Technology and are open to students from countries all over the world. They offer you the unique opportunity to study the theory and practice of online and distance education through modules designed by experts from the Institute who are now using information technology to reinvent open distance learning. Working with them, in collaboration with colleagues from around the world you will be at the forefront of the latest developments as they happen.

Study Mode

Online Education, Distance Learning & External study modes available

Career relevance and employability

There is more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU's Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.


For this 60-credit postgraduate certificate, you require:

60 credits from the following optional modules:

Postgraduate optional modules Credits Next start
Accessible online learning: supporting disabled students (H810)

Examine the learning experiences of disabled students, the technical aspects of accessibility, and the current debates and discussions about disability and accessibility in educational contexts.

See full description.

30 Sep
Practice-based research in educational technology (H809)

Develop research and evaluation skills in technology-rich environments by learning about new methods of data collection and analysis, and the philosophical assumptions underlying educational enquiry.

See full description.

30 Feb
Technology-enhanced learning: practices and debates (H800)

Engage with elearning or 'technology-enhanced' learning by exploring the processes of designing, implementing and evaluating, and become a creative and effective elearning professional.

See full description.

60 Feb
The elearning professional (H808)

Understand the evolving practices of elearning, online tools, resources and eportfolios in personal and professional development, and then explore the pedagogic theories underlying them.

See full description.

30 Sep FINAL

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules H801, H802, H803, H804, H805, H806, H807

Educational aims

The modules that are offered for this award are designed to provide postgraduate-level study for practitioners in higher education and post-compulsory education who are concerned with online, distance, distributed and flexible learning. They aim to meet the needs of professional practitioners worldwide who are using new technologies in their learning and teaching context. They provide postgraduate professional development for lecturers, teachers, trainers, learning media specialists, and library and support staff who wish to learn more about both teaching and learning at a distance and online distributed learning in both face-to-face and distance education.

Learning outcomes

The four modules that can individually lead to this award each have their own distinctive content but also have a range of learning outcomes that are applicable to them all. They all provide you with opportunities to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, qualities, skills and other attributes in the following areas.

Knowledge and understanding

When you have completed this qualification, you will have knowledge and understanding of:

  • a range of contrasting perspectives in the field, the ways in which these differ from one another and how they are drawn upon in discussions of teaching and learning
  • the implications of using different theoretical frames for practice in the field
  • the models for online collaborative interaction that facilitate teaching and learning online.

Cognitive skills

When you have completed this qualification, you will be able to:

  • engage in online collaboration, debate and individual reflection in order to relate your own study to your own experience, context and practice
  • apply your own situation and knowledge to interrogate and evaluate texts
  • initiate, plan and execute a project on learning with online technologies
  • analyse, synthesise and summarise information.

Practical and/or professional skills

When you have completed this qualification, you will be able to:

  • use the web to evaluate and use relevant information concerned with online and distance education and training in the context of your own professional practice
  • select appropriately from a wide range of electronic resources and make use of these in your own context
  • make informed judgements about the variation in quality and depth between different resources available to you and use this judgement to inform your own practice.

Key skills

When you have completed this qualification, you will be able to demonstrate the following skills:


You will be able to:

  • use a variety of reading and writing practices to create new texts
  • produce pieces of written text using appropriate scholarly structures and sophisticated arguments
  • receive and respond to a variety of online communications
  • be sensitive to and respectful of different cultural and language issues in online communication
  • use appropriate communication skills in using an asynchronous text-based medium for initiating and progressing purposeful discussion and group work with colleagues in an education or training context
  • develop the communication skills to contribute to the construction of work as a collective knowledge resource.

Information technology

You will be able to:

  • develop online communication skills as contributors and moderators.

Learning how to learn

You will be able to:

  • use collaborative online activities to further your own knowledge and understanding
  • reflect on and use feedback from both peers and experts to improve your own learning
  • participate in an online learning community
  • manage your own online learning using improved time management and organisational skills.

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