Creating Distance Design Courses

A guide for educators on creating distance and online design courses.

This guide has been created to support design educators preparing to (re)create courses for new cohorts of students over the coming months. It offers guidance, suggestions and ideas around common elements found in distance courses, case studies and research.

This current version (v0.9) is a ‘nearly-final’ version, currently under review, and may contain a few typos, missing references etc.

v0.9 4 June 2020: links in document now work; many typos corrected…

Structure and contents diagram:

How to use the guide

The guide is firmly aimed at teachers having to convert or create a new design courses or curricula. It is presented as a pseudo-structure of a design course and intended as a useful framework (Kear, 2011), not an academically complete one. You can refer to bits of it or read the whole thing – whatever you feel like doing.

The guide is not an introduction or guide to online and/or distance education in itself, although many of the concepts from both are introduced. The intent is to make use of these as they apply to design education. Have a look at the Resources page on the DDE website for general online and distance education guides, courses and material.

If you already have a course ready for online and distance delivery, you might simply use this guide as a check or list of things to think about.

If you have an existing blended course or are experienced and confident in blending modes of learning, you might simply want ideas and ways of thinking about parts of your course. In this case you can refer to individual sections based on what interests you.

If you need to re-plan an existing course, the chances are your overall structure and direction are fine but that you might need to focus on the transition (or transposition) to online and distance. Focusing on sections 0 Priors and 1 Spine and 2 Induction will likely be of most use to you here).

If you have any feedback on this guide then please get in touch. In particular if you think anything is missing from this guide, maybe something you found helpful in your course design, then let us know (

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