The ID experience during COVID-19

How we’re approaching education and community in the pandemic

By Kristin Gecan

Practicing responsible social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly changed the way in which we learn and connect.

As ID students and alumni know, our strong community at ID is not only one of our distinguishing characteristics, it is critical for us to be able to produce our best work.

At the same time, COVID presents just the kind of thorny, ‘wicked’ problem that design is suited to address.

So it’s no surprise that ID faculty, students, and staff have moved quickly to address our changing circumstances and made efforts to innovate and optimize remote learning, strengthen connections during this difficult time, and plan for the future.


Faculty members, including Ruth Schmidt, Carlos Teixeira, and Martin Thaler, have refocused Spring 2020 courses on topics germane to the coronavirus.

J. Smyk produces concepts, Spring 2020
J. Smyk produces concepts, Spring 2020

A fuller roundup of both classes and volunteer efforts in which faculty, students, and alumni are addressing COVID-19 is available here.

For those looking for information about our approach to the Fall 2020 semester, please see our Frequently Asked Questions.


Both student- and administration-led efforts have made a suite of regular offerings available to students, who are welcome to engage or opt out according to their needs.

A growing a list of resources, as well as lectures and more informal get-togethers, include:

  • Weekly Virtual Coffee Break: Bring your favorite cup/mug/glass and snack. Fur babies, human babies, cool T-shirts and interesting snacks are all welcome.
  • Weekly Virtual Study Hall: Also known as a working session, this virtual meetup helps us pretend we are sitting together and working. Bring your projects, emails, deadlines and support each other virtually. You are not required to talk at all. We are just keeping each other company.
  • Weekly Craft Together Happy Hour: Calling all artists! If you knit, crochet, cross-stitch, sew, paint, draw, sing, play an instrument, etc., or none of those things, we need you! If you play an instrument or sing, we would love for you to share your talent. Don’t forget your favorite happy hour beverage and/or snack.

Meanwhile, students are scheduling their own virtual hangouts, team meetings, game nights, and check-ins.

No one is expected to attend everything. Rachel Dean, our director of student engagement, reminds us all to take frequent breaks and has been reaching out to students individually to provide support.


The ID Bulletin, where students, faculty, and staff share links, news, and opinions, is as lively as ever.

Kait Silva Forsythe organizes ideas, Spring 2020
Kait Silva Forsythe organizes ideas, Spring 2020

Plus, a Friday Digest, with rotating introductory notes from staff members, has been distributed since March with updated news on three main topics: our school, community and wellness, and career and summer information.

Career support

In addition to building an internal microsite as well as a growing roster of summer projects, fellowships, externships, bootcamp classes, and MasterChallenges available to ID students, webinars abound. Two have been of particular interest to ID students, alumni, and the broader design community:

  • Internships in Design: Advice for COVID-19; recording available
    Co-hosted with AIGA and moderated by Stephanie Smith, ID’s director of corporate and Community Engagement, viewers get tips from educators and design leaders.
  • Careers in Design: Advice for COVID-19; recording available
    Co-hosted with AIGA and moderated by Stephanie Smith, ID’s Director of Corporate and community partner engagement, viewers get tips from leading recruiters and design leaders.


Like most educational programs, ID is pivoting to a virtual commencement ceremony. Family and friends will be invited to see graduates “walk,” faculty and alumni will share words of wisdom, and Dean Denis Weil and honorary student speaker Prachi Saxena (MDes 2020) will address the community.


[Pictured at top—Andreya Veintimilla]


REFLECTIONS: Our first online student show
Design during COVID-19
remoteID: Reimagining design education, online