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Human-Centered Design for Work at a Distance: Toolbox Essentials

The University of British Columbia via edX


To prepare you for this course, we recommend completing the free 3-hour introductory MOOC Re-Imagine Work - Strategies During COVID-19 and Beyond.

In this course, you will gain a foundational understanding of human-centered design tools, and apply lessons learned to improve your work with others at a distance. Learn how HCD principles can be applied to multiple aspects of working at a distance, and can be used to help decipher complex organizational challenges.

Each module features conversations with experts and/or novices who are seeking to adjust and re-invent their work at home. Examine conversations as a case study, gain key takeaways, and learn to adapt and apply these strategies to your own distributed work situation. You will be taught how to exercise visual thinking and produce visual maps to help frame the specific challenges you are facing.

At the conclusion of the course, verified learners will apply teachings to prototype a solution for a real-life case study.

This course is taught by a UBC professor who has helped over 50 clients from a range of industries decipher “wicked” problems and create scalable MVP’s (minimum viable prototypes).


Week 1: Introduction to the human-centered design process and strategies for managing wellness while working with others at a distance. Guest speaker case study: Brent Steven, Physiotherapist.

Week 2: Managing team well-being and improving culture in remote teams. Guest speaker case study: Dr. Kimberly Voll and Andy Moore Game Designers.

Week 3: Deepening your understanding of the needs of colleagues, clients and customers. Guest speaker case study: Kirsten Wicklund Ballet dancer and yoga teacher.

Week 4:

  • Prototyping and user-testing your at-a-distance communication technologies. Guest speaker case study: Alana-Thorburn Watt- Photographer/Videographer.
  • Culminating capstone assignment: Applying human-centered tools to prototype a solution for a real-world case study of someone struggling to transform how they work with others from a distance. Guest case study: Leonard Vogt- Interior Designer.

Taught by

Dr. Patrick Parra Pennefather

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4.0 rating, based on 4 reviews

Start your review of Human-Centered Design for Work at a Distance: Toolbox Essentials

  • Sara
    The course is well developed and nicely designed. I like the visual models introduced in the videos. They help me to apply innovatively to my work as well as my personal development. I particularly like the interviews - it's great to hear industrial people's experience and insights.

    I met other people from different countries and different experiences in the discussions. I also felt a sense of connection. It was very engaging.

    It stressed me when I graduated at such a hard time (all the covid, work-from-home and massive layoff situations). Luckily, I've learned lots of tools and strategies that are useful in my job (impressed my boss haha) and add values to my skillsets.
  • Elias YOUNES completed this course.

    I think that you are a distinctive person that did innovate a new course that respond to the needs of all the human beings around the world with the presence of Covid-19 that did block a lot of businesses because people that are used to the normal modes of work and connections during the day couldn't make it and couldn't keep working and reaching their goals.

    Your course is really the first specialized and logique reference that people can learn to help them keep on working, advancing and being.

    It will be THE BOOK on which I will refer whenever I feel I need help
  • Anonymous
    Very poor overall, I struggled to get till the end because it has not been engaging at all. - Interviewees weren't prepared; lot of stammering, 'mhmh' that kept drewing my attention away. They did not really give any particular insight of how it feels...
  • Anonymous
    A truly innovative and eye-opening course - so many "a ha moments" that can be applied to a variety of industries. Prof Pennefather is the best. Highly recommend to all!

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