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Strategic planning for online learning
Strategic planning for online learning

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Introduction and guidance


Hello and welcome to strategic planning for online learning: a whole school approach. We have created this research informed professional development course from data collected from school leaders, for school leaders. The course explores and challenges the role of online learning across a broad range of issues and the way they influence strategy and individual practice. It is based around four main areas. Surrounding the framework are the cross-cutting themes of pedagogical innovation, flexibility and partnerships, resources and infrastructure and equitability and inclusivity, are present in all the four segments.

Click through Figure 1 and read through the information that appears below the circles.

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Figure 1 (interactive): Theoretical Framework taken from Jewitt et al. (2021)
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

We understand that there are often many pressures on your time as school leaders and as such, this course can be completed flexibly with the ability to track your progress and return to sections at a later stage.

Before starting, it is important key terms that are often used interchangeably in education are defined. Explore the Glossary section and then return here when you are done. These terms will be highlighted throughout the course for you to refer back to.

Activity 1

Timing: 5 minutes

To begin, we’d like you to start by telling us in one or two words what type of digital leader you think you are. Be honest, as all answers are anonymous.

  1. Note down one thing you’d like to do for the first time during the course.
  2. Note down one thing you’d like to do better by the end of the course.

Add these to your Action grid [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .


School leaders need to plan strategies, make plans and allocate resources in such a way that the school digital environments and services meet the needs and manage the expectations of pupils.

We hope that as a result of your participation in the course, you will be able to approach digital planning more confidently and effectively.

The course will encourage you to use digital tools as appropriate to your own professional development.

If you want to get started with something practical straight away, try this Department for Education, 9-page summary report ‘Realising the potential of technology in education: A summary report.’ Or the full 48-page report: Realising the potential of technology in education: A strategy for education providers and the technology industry.

Our free course for school leaders at all levels will equip you with the tools, knowledge and skills to:

  • Become a more effective leader in online learning through your own personal and professional development.
  • Explore how schools can engage more effectively with the digital technology at their disposal – at both strategic and operational levels.
  • Discover and reflect on how the use of digital technology is changing the way your school operates – creating new leadership challenges and strategic opportunities.
  • Envisage the digital environment needed to enable staff to design online learning experiences.
  • Learn to lead, manage and influence digitally-driven change across departments and schools.
  • Build scenarios for alternative digital solutions.

The course takes approximately 10 hours to complete. We hope you find this course useful and enjoyable.

Who is this course for?

The digital school leaders’ course has been designed for anyone occupying (or aspiring to occupy) decision-making, leadership or management positions within secondary education – regardless of discipline, function or department.

It will be particularly valuable for those in less directly-technical roles, for example senior management teams, heads of department, head teachers and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) and Chairs of Governors / Trustees.

You may also find it beneficial to attend as a team and multi-disciplinary groups from within a single school / MAT.

Before the course gets started, it would be really helpful to understand your role, particularly if you are a headteacher or a chair of governor/trustee. If you are in either of these roles, please consider taking the following survey. (Please open these links in a new tab or window, so you can return to the course when you have completed the survey.)

  1. Are you a headteacher?
  2. Are you a chair of governor/ trustee?

Moving around the course

If this is your first visit to the site, you need to register for a free account via the ‘Sign up / Sign in’ button. Please open it in a new tab or window, follow the instructions to register an account then once your new account is created, return to this page in your browser rather than following the ‘return to the page you were on’ button in the registration screens (and login via the ‘Sign up / Sign in’ button), then click on the Enrol button for this course.

In the ‘Summary’ at the end of each week, you can find a link to the next week. If at any time you want to return to the start of the course, click on ‘Full course description’. From here you can navigate to any part of the course.

It’s also good practice, if you access a link from within a course page (including links to the quizzes), to open it in a new window or tab. That way you can easily return to where you’ve come from without having to use the back button on your browser.

Please note: if you download the Word or PDF version of the learning materials to study offline and return to complete the quizzes which can only be done online, you will need to click through the online version of the learning materials to complete the criteria for your digital badge.

Get careers guidance

This course has been included in the National Careers Service to help you develop new skills.