Design Education Resources and Considerations for dealing with COVID-19

We know the coronavirus (COVID-19) has been impacting your teaching in many ways, from having study abroad trips cancelled to having to restructure entire classes. While we can’t cover everything here, we are providing a few resources, compiled in one place.

Pivoting to Teach Remotely Mid-Semester

At the end of this article, we share a list of resources to help with online teaching, including project ideas and free remote video conferencing. We also include some thoughts at the end of this post, under the header Tips from the Trenches, from a faculty member in a different discipline that should be really helpful to any educators in this situation.

Instead of in-person discussions, you might try using Zoom, Skype, or Hangouts Meet to host virtual sessions. If synchronous meetings are not possible, you might consider uploading pre-recorded videos to YouTube or Vimeo (or use whatever online platform your Institution has implemented such as Canvas, Blackboard, or Scholar). Many Institutions also have partnerships with online learning platforms, like Linked In Learning (formerly, and you can find and share relevant tutorials (Adobe also has many tutorials and projects available). Your library likely has a large number of full texts available online, but if not, there’s lots of great design articles online (Design Observer, AIGA Eye on Design).

If students don’t have personal access to the Adobe software, but do have access to a computer, a workaround could include using Google Slides. There are some reasonable design tools embedded in that software, and you can change the page size, and juggle multiple slides as pages of a document or iterations of an idea. You would be able to share these files among a class or with an instructor as well.

If your students all have laptops, the transition to online teaching might be smoother—but what do you do if your students don’t all have computers at home? You might consider a more theory-centric approach, in which students do readings and responses. AIGA Design Futures has a wealth of content and even an affiliated podcast. This could also be a good time to focus on contemporary issues, such as climate change (We are Climate Designers) or how designers can adapt to the current health and economic crisis at hand. Alternatively, you might shift to focus more on analog skills, like illustration and collage-based projects. If you’re teaching a web or interaction class, this might be a good time to focus on developing surveys (Google Forms), personas, and wire-frames. An example project format could be that students conduct research for a project and organize it as a pitch proposal, focusing on background research, conceptualization, and context—this could all be done remotely and then students could be asked to review and provide feedback to a number of their classmates’ presentations.

Health and Mental Health

You can stay current with updates from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). 

While initial priority might be on protecting your physical well-being, know that a quarantine or disruption to a regular routine can take a toll on mental health. The CDC recommends calling your healthcare provider if stress reactions interfere with your daily activities for several days in a row, and you can do the following things to support yourself:

  • Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of COVID-19.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do some other activities you enjoy to return to your normal life.
  • Connect with others. Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships.
  • Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking.

Check-in with your Counseling Center to see what they are offering (such as video counseling and online information) to make sure that your students have resources.

Connect with other educators through AIGA DEC, which has a discussion group on Facebook. The DEC will be hosting a series of Virtual Roundtables on various design education topics.

If you are still having in-person classes, but are concerned about transmission of COVID-19, remember that proper hand washing is the best way to reduce the spread of disease. You might also request that classrooms have hand sanitizing stations or bring in disinfecting wipes (particularly if there are shared computer labs).

Discrimination and Bias

According to Virginia Tech, “The U.S. Department of Education issued a letter to all colleges and universities across the nation regarding concerns of discrimination and bias related to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, commonly referred to as Coronavirus. The letter cites an increase in the number of reports regarding stereotyping, harassment, and bullying directed towards students and faculty perceived to be of Chinese-American or, more generally, Asian descent. Amid growing concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19 infections across the world and the United States, it is important for us to pause for a moment and consider how our thoughts, our words, and our actions influence others in our community who are equally affected by this global health crisis.” They went on to talk about how they “thrive on being a welcoming, accessible, and inclusive campus for all. We affirm the inherent dignity and value of every person and strive to maintain a climate for work and learning based on mutual respect and understanding. We value human diversity because it enriches our lives and the university. We acknowledge and respect our differences while affirming our common humanity.”

Many Institutions hold similar Principles of Community or Value Statements. If you witness or have discrimiation reported to you, you can either report it through your Institution, through Title IX standards, or with your local law enforcement officers.

Questions + Connections

We wondered how this is impacting you.

  • Are your faculty losing pay if classes are entirely canceled due to lack of facilities?
  • Has your university continued timed classes or moved to an asynchronous model?
  • What other challenges are you facing?
  • What resources do you utilize?

Connect with the AIGA Design Educators Community online:

Facebook: AIGA Design Educators Community – Home / AIGA DEC Discussions 
Twitter: AIGA DEC (@aigadec)
Instagram: AIGA Design Educators (@aiga_educators)
Website: AIGA Design Educators Community

Resources for Teaching Remotely

AIGA Design Teaching Resource
A peer-populated platform for educators to share assignments, teaching materials, outcomes, and project reflections

Google Hangouts Meet (Video Conferencing)
As more employees, educators, and students work remotely in response to the spread of COVID-19, Google  wanted to do their part to help them stay connected and productive with G Suite. For all G Suite customers, they will soon enable free access to our advanced video conferencing capabilities in Hangouts Meet

Teaching Effectively During Times of Disruption, for SIS and PWR
By Jenae Cohn and Beth Seltzer

As Coronavirus Concerns Rise on Campus, Explore Resources for Teaching Remotely 
from CAA News Today:
As Coronavirus Concerns Rise on Campus, Explore Resources for Teaching Remotely

AAUP Coronavirus Information and Resources for Higher Ed

Rapid Remote Teaching Resources

Transforming a Face-to-Face class day into an Online class day

San Jose State University Remote Teaching Strategies

Instructional Continuity: Instructor Quick Guide, San Francisco State University

As Coronavirus Spreads, the Decision to Move Classes Online Is the First Step. What Comes Next?
By Emma Dill, Karin Fischer, Beth McMurtrie, and Beckie Supiano

Stanford: Teach Anywhere

Tips from the trenches…

This advice was shared by Mary Beth Willard, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Weber State University on Facebook. Much of this advice is fantastic and can be applied to many different disciplines.


O, friends who have to move things online because of university closures, here is some free advice, worth what you’ve paid for it. But I teach online regularly, and I’ve also had to develop contingency plans twice in case my babies were born early.


1) You are not teaching an online class. You are moving a face-to-face class online. The differences work for and against you. You already know the students and have a rapport with them. You also weren’t planning to have to deliver your course material to them remotely. But your problem is probably about three weeks’ worth of material. This is a problem you can handle.

2) You are not going to have success if you think you’ll just do your normal chalk-and-talk or traffic-cop discussion, but do it via Zoom or some course software that you and your students haven’t used before. Maybe you get lucky, but look, we all use Skype, and how well has that worked at conferences and first-round interviews?

You have to adapt to the modality you have. Think about what you want them to learn, and figure out how to get it to them. The fancies call this ‘backward course design’, if you’re looking for a term to Google. But think of it like this: you want them to learn Mill, let’s say. Ordinarily, you’d assign a reading, and then do your thing in class, and they’d learn Mill. What you need to recreate online: them learning Mill. What you do not need to recreate online: them having the experience of your discussion section. It does NOT need to map onto an ordinary class.

3) Look at your syllabus. You’re going to be closed for two or three weeks. Do you have to move exams? Do you have material that is easier to do online? No one says you have to follow what’s written exactly.

4) Assume that some of your students will not get the technology to work, other won’t have access, and some won’t bother, equating Corona-closure with Corona-beer-time.

5) What do you know how to use? What do your students know how to use? Hint: probably not Zoom.


1) Great artists steal. See if Wi-Phi has done a video on it. No, this isn’t cheating — your students are probably Googling it anyway. Wi-Phi won’t *replace* your teaching, but it will supplement it, and it’s better to use a nicely edited video than to stammer through your own attempt.

2) You need to replicate content delivery, interaction, and assessment

Suggestions for content delivery:

1) Write up a lecture in Word. This will be FINE. Word also has the advantage of playing reasonably well with screen readers and other access technology.

2) Record short 10-minute videos of key concepts. Do this only if you’re reasonably comfortable with video editing, and know how to upload things.

3) Reading questions/responses, even if you don’t normally use them.

4) If you decide you’re going to stream a lecture, make sure you also record it. Half of them are going to miss it and the other half will have technology issues.


1) Your course software probably has a Discussion Board. Make a topic for each class, require one original post and one thoughtful response to someone else’s. Respond a lot to students — ask and raise questions.

2) Your course software probably has quiz functionality. Use this to help keep people on track. The biggest risk is that they treat this like a vacation and torch their own grades.

You *can* get more creative than this if you want. But this is a good start.

By aigaeducators
Published March 11, 2020
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