Designing for Learner Success

D4LS is a three-year organisation-wide learning and teaching development initiative across 2015-17, with two clear goals in mind:

•Further improve our learner outcomes

•Support the academic staff workload reduction project

This initiative provides centralised leadership, support and resourcing for a focused implementation of our Learning and Teaching Strategic framework.

We are progressively reviewing and where necessary redesigning our programmes and their courses to ensure the following:

• A blended delivery model in all programmes (a variety of delivery methods and must include some online delivery)

• An inclusive learning environment for all our learners and that addresses individual learner needs

• An experiential learning approach to all courses (learning through action and reflection)

• Purposeful development of learner capability (personal effectiveness, future focused, sustainable practitioners)

• Increased student-managed learning and more effective face-to-face teaching

• Increased formative assessment (especially online) and reduced summative assessment

• Integration of learning analytics data to enable early and individualised intervention and support for learners

• In implementing this initiative we will be coming from an appreciative perspective, i.e. there is much good practice occurring at Otago Polytechnic, which will be identified and shared


The D4LS team, click here to 'meet the team':


Jean Tilleyshort

Phil Kerr
Chris Morland
Janine Kapa-Blair
Sue Thompson

Project Management

Nigel Kingshott

Rachel Owen

Learning and Teaching Development team

Doris Lancaster

Sarah Smith 

Trish Chaplin-Cheyne

Peter Bilous

Julia Walne

Ray O'Brien

Helen Walsh


Kin Loke


Claire Goode


Matt Thompson


Drew Barnett


Odette Murdoch


Rachel Cash


Pete Eley


Hugh Harlow



People and Culture

Catherine Lindsay

Ron Bull

Quality Enhancement Centre

Liz Stewart

Instructional Design Consultant

Carolyn Levy


Learner success

This initiative is first and foremost about our learners and in particular, their success. All of our learners deserve to succeed, but currently 18 per cent who enrol do not, and in many programmes, 25 to 40 per cent do not succeed. This has been the case for several years, which tells us that we need to change. We know an enormous amount about what constitutes good learning design, and what learning strategies are the most effective in developing learner capability. So, we are committed through this initiative to ensuring every programme (and every course within every programme) gives learners the very best chance of success.


How D4LS will help Otago Polytechnic

Successful learners also make for a successful Otago Polytechnic, so this initiative is also about positioning our institution for future success. We will stand out and be successful in an increasingly competitive global market, not to mention a highly competitive national market, because of our exceptional learner success rates, and the outstanding experience our learners have with us. This means understanding and meeting learner needs in the context of what employers want and expect. Our graduates must not only have the skills and knowledge of their chosen vocation, but also be personally effective, future focused and able to practice sustainably. They need to be work ready. This learning design process is about ensuring our graduates are the most sought after in New Zealand, and that, more than anything else, will ensure Otago Polytechnic’s long-term success.

Important preparation includes programme teams thinking about:

• Qualifications strategically, including;

   o possible future changes,

   o industry needs,

   o market demands

   o learner pathways.

• Engaging with development opportunities as required.

• Their capabilities in areas such as;

   o sustainability,

   o integration of the Māori Strategic Framework,

   o experiential learning,

   o capability development,

   o assessment,

   o curriculum design.


Please click below for the full paper released by Phil Ker in October 2014 about the “Designing for Learner Success” initiative: