Postgraduate Certificate in Learning Design

Are you a learning and teaching development specialist wanting to upskill with a professional qualification in learning design? Or are you planning a career change into this dynamic and fast-growing area? In response to a growing demand for professional learning designers in Aotearoa New Zealand and around the world, this new programme has been created to meet your training needs and is facilitated by learning design experts. It will give you the practical skills and theoretical knowledge you need.

About the programme 

This qualification focuses on learning design as it reflects the fact that the learner is at the centre of the design. In addition, theories and models drawn from other fields are included such as design thinking and user experience which will become increasingly core as the field of instructional design evolves. Bicultural and cross-cultural elements and concepts are also embedded implicitly and explicitly throughout the programme. 

Learning design is the systematic process during which learning materials are designed, developed and delivered. The fundamental purpose is to identify the skills, knowledge and attitude gaps of a targeted audience and to create, select and suggest learning experiences that close that gap. 

Traditionally, these skills were embedded as a component in an existing teaching role but, due to ever-expanding complexities and opportunities of technology, as well as the growing variety of types of learning, the role of a learning designer is increasingly being seen as a dedicated full-time specialist position. 

This programme is targeted for a variety of learning and teaching professionals including:

  • technical writers 
  • higher educators 
  • graphic designers 
  • librarians 
  • scientists 
  • corporate trainers 
  • human resource professionals 
  • software developers and others involved in training or education. 

When you successfully complete this programme, you'll be able to:

  • employ creative solutions to address learning design needs and goals while working to a client brief and/or industry needs. 
  • evaluate and apply learning approaches to design and develop learning experiences that meet the needs of multiple learning contexts.
  • apply appropriate online learning design strategies and tools to create quality learning experiences.
  • critically apply project management principles and tools to manage and engage stakeholders through a learning design project.

This programme has external advisory support from the New Zealand Association for Training and Development (NZATD), Germinate Aotearoa, ADInstruments, ARA, and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT).  


There is a two-week orientation course at the start of the programme that will enable you to get used to the online learning environment and get to know the other learners and your lecturer. This course is not assessed. 

After that, we then move into four assessed courses. 

The Learning Theories and Learning Design course runs parallel to the other three courses, so the theories are integrated and contextualised within project management, learning technologies and visual communication. 

(Course 1 ) Management of Learning Design Projects

Level 8, 15 credits, 30 directed hours / 60 work experience hours / 60 self-directed hours

Learn how to manage the design and delivery of learning design projects.

Example topics

  • History of instructional design
  • Role and influence of the learning designer
  • Stakeholder relationship building – Whanāungatanga
  • Instructional systems design (ISD) frameworks and instructional design models
  • Needs analysis
  • Scope and scope creep
  • Project management principles and phases
  • Communication strategies and tools
  • Blueprints/storyboarding
  • Quality assurance standards
  • Monitoring tools and strategies
  • Success criteria and evaluation.
(Course 2) Learning Theories and Learning Design

Level 8, 15 credits, 30 directed hours / 50 work experience hours / 70 self-directed hours 

Discover how to apply learning theories, and learning design models and strategies, to create and evaluate quality learning experiences for diverse learners and contexts. 

Example topics

  • Ako as both theory and practice
  • Learning theories – behaviourism, cognitivism, constructivism, etc.
  • Information processing theories
  • Visual literacy
  • Modes of learning – e-learning, distance, blended, kanohi ki te kanohi
  • Learning contexts – social, economic, political, environmental, technical
  • Culturally-centred learners – motivation, whakamana, community
  • Instruction strategies – e.g. Merrill’s five steps, Gagne’s 9 events of instruction
  • Assessment design
  • Technical and instructional writing strategies.
(Course 3) Learning Technologies for Learning Design

Level 8, 15 credits, 30 directed hours / 60 work experience hours / 60 self-directed hours 

Learn how to evaluate and apply appropriate technologies to create tailored learning experiences that meet the learning needs and quality assurance standards of a project brief. 

Example topics

  • Types of learning technologies – macro and micro
  • Needs assessment - task, learner and context analysis
  • Evaluation of established and emergent learning technologies
  • Reasons for using particular technologies
  • Technical and instructional writing strategies
  • Open Educational Resources (OER)
  • Copyright Law – Creative Commons
  • Learning technologies for formative and summative assessment
  • Accessibility technologies.
(Course 4) Visual Communication for Learning Design

Level 8, 15 credits, 30 directed hours / 60 work experience hours / 60 self-directed hours 

Gain the skills to evaluate and apply visual design principles to enhance communication in a range of learning contexts and environments. 

Example topics

  • Visual design principles, layouts and conventions, and terminology
  • Visual design for accessibility
  • Visual learning theory
  • Typography principles
  • Colour theory
  • Visual literacy
  • Graphics for visual communication for learning
  • Constructive criticism and critique
  • Data visualisation.

Further study options 

After finishing this programme, you’ll be in a great position to apply for our Master of Professional Practice. This programme is delivered through work-based learning and enables you to identify a goal or challenge in your work environment (i.e. developing a new process). You then research and define this, develop an approach for resolving it and implement it as part of your learning and reflection.

We are part of Te Pūkenga

When you apply to study with Otago Polytechnic, you will be enrolled with Te Pūkenga, the new national network of vocational and applied education in Aotearoa New Zealand. You will learn in the same way, in the same place, and with the same people, and you will graduate with a Te Pūkenga qualification.


While every effort is made to ensure that this sheet is accurate, Otago Polytechnic reserves the right to amend, alter or withdraw any of the contained information. The fees shown in this document are indicative only. Both domestic and international fees are subject to change and are dependent on the development and implementation of Government policies. Please note that additional fees may from time to time be required for external examination, NZQA fees and/or additional material fees.