learning design

Creating effective learning experiences

As a learning designer I create workshops or courses in a variety of subject areas, often working with people who are experts in their field. Since my background is in education and I hold deep knowledge in how to design and develop effective learning experiences, I am often hired by organizations or people who know their subject matter but aren’t sure how to bring it to life for their participants. I draw on activities and processes to help make your learning event not only effective, but fun and engaging! My experience lies across the range of face-to-face to online modes, described in more depth below.

Virtual (Synchronous Online)

Virtual sessions take place in platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams and are actively facilitated by one or more people. I often work with organizations who want to learn how to design and facilitate virtual sessions as standalone events, and am also very familiar with integrating virtual sessions into blended-model online courses which include both asynchronous and synchronous learning. When I use the term “webinar” about the types of virtual sessions I create, I’m describing a participatory, inclusive and collaborative experience between facilitator and participants, not a one-way presentation of information from session leader to an audience.

Recent Examples: I design and facilitate virtual sessions all year round for client organizations as well as public offerings through my own business. (You won’t be surprised to hear that this increased during 2020-2022 but it’s work I’ve actually been doing for years.) Check out bethcouglerblom.com/shop to register for upcoming sessions.

“Beth has a tremendous work ethic and the skills, knowledge, and ability to turn ideas into actions that produce positive and meaningful outcomes. We highly recommend Beth!”

– Lisa Mort-Putland, Executive Director, Volunteer Victoria –

Asynchronous Online

Asynchronous online courses are usually several weeks in duration and are taken by a class of participants together. I have worked as a learning designer on hundreds of these types of courses. In this mode a facilitator is usually actively “present” online to guide participants’ learning and participants are able to engage in a variety of individual, small group and whole group work. Asynchronous means “not at the same time”, which means that participants usually have some flexibility across the duration of each week or unit to access and participate in the online course when it is convenient to them, while maintaining social presence with the group.

Recent Example: I designed and developed several versions of a seven-week online course in Lay Navigation for cancer-related organizations such as the BC Cancer Agency and Canadian Cancer Society. Participants in these courses are volunteers who are learning how to provide support to cancer patients.

“Beth developed an exceptional training program to prepare volunteers to provide post treatment support to cancer patients. I had no experience with online facilitation and Beth was in BC while I was in Nova Scotia. It was an absolute pleasure working with Beth. Her organizational and facilitation skills made the process so easy. She has a great sense of humor and is clearly passionate and skilled at what she does.”

– Kim Veino, Volunteer Engagement Coordinator, Canadian Cancer Society – Nova Scotia –


E-learning courses are online self-study courses that learners complete on their own, without the presence of a facilitator or other participants. When designing in this mode two of my key considerations are to write measurable learning outcomes that can be accomplished by the learner when learning alone and to create learning modules that are interactive and motivating for the learner. I usually use Articulate Storyline 360 for this kind of work, which allows me to create custom interactions and gives me access to dozens of templates, images and character sets. I have also created self-study e-learning courses in Moodle and with Articulate Rise.

Recent Example: For the BC Cancer Agency I provided learning design and development services to create an e-learning course called “Orientation to Patient and Family Engagement”. This Storyline course featured click-and-reveal, quiz, drag and drop, and matching interactions, to name a few.

“Beth developed a course for our School of Health and Human Services. Beth’s ability to acquire resources, develop curricula and liaison with a multi-disciplinary department was of the highest calibre. I valued Beth’s knowledge, flexibility and professionalism. It was a pleasure to work with Beth.”

– Joan Astren, School of Health and Human Services, Camosun College –

In Person

When I design for in person mode I create structured lesson plans – not just PowerPoint slides. I write measurable learning outcomes and incorporate ways to assess those outcomes to ensure participants will learn the material. I intersperse small chunks of content delivery with a variety of participatory activities through which people can apply their learning, individually and in various-sized groups. The in person workshops I create are neither “presentations” nor “lectures”; they are active learning experiences for all.

Recent Example: I worked with the Canadian Cancer Society – BC and Yukon Division – to redesign their volunteer orientation session for them in in person, virtual, and self-study modes, so that they could reach volunteers in many different locations with different modes of learning. Then I facilitated the pilot of the face-to-face session for a group of staff and volunteers, to model effective facilitation skills to the coordinators of volunteers who were going to facilitate the session.

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