This paper reports the development and evaluation of an online distance course making available most of the elements of traditional on-campus phonetic training within a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Issues associated with the use of phonetic symbols in the teaching materials and communication tools of a VLE are addressed. An outline is presented of an up-to-date, research-driven syllabus for a distance course in English phonetics with associated exercises, ear-training and assessments. An eight-week pilot of the new course attracted 25 students across five continents, indicating a healthy global market for a course of this type. Retention rate to final assessment was 64%; an evaluation questionnaire assessing satisfaction on a five-point scale (1=best) showed an average score of 1.34.