The recalibration of a design studio curriculum during COVID–19 in Aotearoa


  • Meighan Ellis
  • Fiona Grieve



COVID–19, Curriculum Design, Design Education, Online Learning, Studio Practice


This article presents the impact COVID–19 had on a first-year communication design curricula revitalisation to progress students from a secondary level standards-based criterion to a tertiary culture predicated on active and experiential practice-led studio inquiry. Methodologically, it describes a design-based research intervention that asks what occurred in the translation of a brief written as an in-person, studio-based model into a purely online undertaking, learning from anywhere, teaching in a constant state of flux? Through a commentary on practice, the revitalisation of a design programme, and the pedagogical shift from within the traditional studio paradigm–a dynamic on-campus, in-person model into an abrupt and atypical online undertaking due to the global pandemic, this paper contributes to a discourse on a design studio approach and presents the transference of the Learning Management System that supports distance learning.


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Author Biographies

Meighan Ellis

Is a creative hybrid, with a background and professional training in photography, graphic design, moving image, fine-art and design theory and more recently a re-acquaintance with clay. Her multi-disciplinary practice spans various media and is distinctively positioned at the intersection between art and commerce. Meighan’s work has been exhibited in New Zealand, America, Europe, Australia and Japan, and her photographic and ceramic works are held in private collections in New Zealand and overseas. For a number of years she lived in London, Sydney and Tokyo, where, alongside her fine-art practice and a long list of creative and commercial side-hustles, she worked as a writer, photographer, designer, art director, content creator and producer for various international clients, brands, print and online channels.

Fiona Grieve

is Head of Communications Design Department at Auckland University of Technology. She is an Academic Leader and Creative Director with 20+ years’ experience in design education, research and consultancy. She is engaged in projects that utilise collaborative processes to comprehend and distill information into visual systems. Her practice positions publication design as a reflective and reflexive research platform to facilitate educational discourse and examine practice-based research and industry contexts. She has been involved in a number of collaborations which intersect educational and professional domains of practice: THREADED is an international award winning design magazine; and FREE PLAN is the Alla Prima Project which expands on approaches to design and visual arts, assessment, curricula and studio-centred education.


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How to Cite

Ellis, M., & Grieve, F. (2021). The recalibration of a design studio curriculum during COVID–19 in Aotearoa. DAT Journal, 6(2), 403–417.