Addressing Digital Design Equity: Bridging Gaps in Today’s Learning Design and Technology Industry

Learning Design instructors discuss professional development opportunities.

With Overwhelming Access to Learning Technology, Why a Divide?

A recent report shows that educators have access to over 1,400 digital tools, putting them in the driver’s seat when it comes to developing cutting-edge online instructional design. However, the average educator also lacks opportunities to receive comprehensive training on the technological tools available to them. Only 24% of teachers report having access to effective training. This disparity between available technology and adaptable implementation has created a digital learning divide for both digital use and digital design in learning platforms.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology released a 2024 National Educational Technology Plan with a specific call to action on closing digital divides. Crossing that divide means bridging the gap between available technology and successful implementation.

Many educators and instructional designers are overwhelmed with technology platform options, falling prey to providing limited or passive technology options for students, such as word-processing-only assignments or completing digital versions of paper assessments. Others feel insecure and inadequately trained in district- or institution-provided technologies, causing them to abandon their use in the classroom altogether.

Lots of Learning Technology Options, Little Training for Educators

The results can be staggering. For example, a K–12 school setting can see students at the same grade level, but learning in different classrooms emerge with disproportionate degrees of technological savvy, creating inequitable educational experiences. Access to technology resources is plentiful, but expert knowledge on how to deploy it is much harder to find.

Without adequate training on how to optimally use technology in the classroom, educators deepen the digital divide. Students without access to well-developed learning platforms lack the necessary application skills to navigate new learning platforms as they move through the education system. In comparison, students with learning technology experiences deeply embedded in their curriculum are better positioned to thrive as they encounter new technology and are properly supported in its use.

An Overwhelming Need for Professional Development

Closing the divide involves a clear and direct pathway to professional development. Educators and learning designers need properly developed skills to successfully implement learning technology platforms in instructional settings. It isn’t a one-and-done methodology but instead involves access to education and training that provides a deep understanding of how learning technologies work, best practices in implementation, and how to regularly assess performance in the learning environment. Sustaining this knowledge in a rapidly changing industry requires a commitment to continuous learning.

“Almost anything we do professionally involves teaching someone the thing we know how to do,” says Kevin Grubb a Villanova University College of Professional Studies (CPS) student and Associate Vice Provost, Professional Development & Chief Career Officer at Villanova University. “When we have the resources and knowledge for how to do that teaching most effectively, we can help people understand our work more clearly.”

Learning and Design Technology Certificate Programs Marry Practical with Tactical

To address the urgent need for ongoing professional development surrounding learning design and technology, Villanova University’s College of Professional Studies (CPS) offers a Learning Design and Technology certificate program specifically designed to empower educators and learning designers to approach learning and instructional design conversations in impactful ways.

In a program designed around hands-on experience, designers are exposed to a healthy balance of theory and practice. The knowledge CPS students gain through course assignments is immediately applicable to their work and benefits their organizations and the learners they impact.

Ankit Desai, Director, Learning Technologies at Villanova and adjunct faculty in the program, says his goal is to empower his students for real-world scenarios. “I see my role as a professor in this program as engaging heavily with the students to meet them where they are and in what they’re doing professionally to equip them with the knowledge and toolsets they need to successfully problem solve.”

Since leveling the digital divide involves providing comprehensive training, the CPS Learning Design and Technology program focuses on practical application in conjunction with theory. While students taking the program courses can expect to become well-versed in the pedagogical approaches to learning design, they can also expect to learn how to apply best practices when designing learning models as well as effective ways to measure their success.

Flexible Learning Options from World-Class Faculty

The professors in the CPS Learning Design and Technology program bring more than just the ethos and esteemed reputation of Villanova University. They are working professionals in their fields and impart real-world insights gained through years of industry research and vocational successes.

The Learning Design and Technology program is 100% online, with non-sequential courses offered throughout the year, giving students the flexibility to choose courses that best fit their personal and professional commitments.

Successful completion of courses within the program earns students digital badges and a Learning Design and Technology certificate upon full completion of all three courses. Students can use the badges and certificate to build credibility amongst colleagues and within their organizations. They can also enhance resumes and LinkedIn profiles. In short, this program will help learning designers build confidence in their designs and get ahead in their careers.

Dr. Rui Li, an adjunct professor and Associate Vice President for Online and Distance Education at Bradley University, says a certificate from Villanova University gives professionals a competitive edge in the work field. When asked if she was more likely to hire a relevant-degree applicant with a certificate over an applicant without, she said, “Absolutely, it shows me that this person is credibly qualified.”

However, the advantage isn’t just in the credentials, but in the confidence students build while completing the program. Grubb says, “As a result of learning about how to design learning, my presentations and conversations are even sharper for audiences with whom I interact. I now think more deeply about how my presentations can be more learner-focused and designed in a way that engages people in the many ways they may learn.”

Closing the digital divide starts with effective training and professional development. Empowering designers with expertise to successfully design, implement, and assess online learning models provides positive outcomes for learners. A certificate in Learning Design and Technology from Villanova gives professionals classroom knowledge and practical application to confidently problem-solve in their fields.

If you want to increase your skill set and learn how learning design and technology can provide better educational outcomes and instructional experiences, talk with an enrollment specialist today.


About Villanova University’s College of Professional Studies: Founded in 2014, the College of Professional Studies (CPS) provides academically rigorous yet flexible educational pathways to high-achieving adult learners who are balancing professional and educational aspirations with life’s commitments. The CPS experience embodies Villanova’s century-long commitment to making academic excellence accessible to students at all stages of life. Students in CPS programs engage with world-class Villanova faculty including scholars and practitioners, explore innovative educational technologies and experiences, and join an influential network of passionate alumni. In addition to its industry-leading programs at the nexus of theory and practice, CPS has built a reputation for its personal approach and supportive community that empowers adult students to enrich their lives, enhance their value in the workplace, and embark on new careers.

PURSUE THE NEXT YOU™ and visit for more information about the college, including a full list of education and program offerings.