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Design thinking: creativity for the 21st century

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This key introductory Level 1 module, packed with new learning innovation, will change your way of seeing and solving complex problems forever. Through a mix of academic and practical work you’ll develop an understanding of design, acquire new designing skills and build a portfolio of design projects as a strong foundation for future study or work experience. This online module looks at common principles of design and ways of thinking that lead to ideas and creative solutions. Within a specially created virtual design studio you’ll complete many hands-on activities and interact with your fellow students as you experience a completely different way of learning.

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Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1625.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£1625.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1465.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£1465.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

See below for information about part time tuition fee loans available for study towards a qualification.

31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.

*Fees may vary by country.

What you will study

The module is presented online in four blocks corresponding to the different levels at which design thinking can have an impact on our lives: at the individual, group, social and global level. You will have practical activities, skills development and academic coursework to do each week, and the freedom to manage your own learning.

Central to the module is an online virtual design studio, where you will upload your practical work – using images you have created – to discuss with other students and your tutor. You will also be able to see and discuss the design work of other students. Learning to use the expertise of others is a vital part of design thinking and something that is encouraged in the design studio environment. Throughout the module you will be encouraged to engage with the world around you, formulate and solve design problems that are relevant to your own life, and participate in the U101 community of design thinkers.

Block 1: Design and the Individual

In the first part of the module we concentrate on the skills that you will need to begin your creative work: taking and uploading digital photographs, composition, basic drawing and observation. You will be introduced to Compendium, a software tool with which you can record and link together different types of information in a digital scrapbook. You will also be introduced to the OpenDesignStudio environment, where you will create a profile and upload your creative work. Along with your skill development there will be more academic study, introducing you to the world of design and design thinking through text, audio, video and multimedia. You will see interviews with design practitioners, and case studies of their work. As you work through the block you will carry out a sequence of activities that will lead up to your first assessed design project: the design of a T-shirt.

Block 2: Designing for Others and with Others

In the second block of the module our attention focuses on designing for the needs of specific groups of people. You will investigate what types of design make other people happy, as well as finding out what it’s like to experience what other people experience. You will learn skills of making and presenting prototypes – crucial in design thinking – and you will learn about how to ‘frame’ a problem, and how to recognise a good solution. This block is not only about designing for others but also about designing with others. Knowing how, and when, to collaborate with others is extremely useful in designing and as part of your assessed design project for this block you will work online with a small number of your fellow students. For your project in this block you will propose a modification to an existing product to make it easier to understand and use.

Block 3: Design in Society

Block 3 looks at how design can have an impact in society through services and systems such as housing, planning, health, transport and recycling. You will gain an understanding of the factors influencing change in a society and how they apply to your local context. And you will learn how to search for information, observe, map, and analyse complex environments. In your online study you will see a number of case studies where design has made a significant impact at the society level. For your design project you will design, produce, and test a game, based on a service you have studied.

Block 4: The Global Impact of Design

When the full context of design is taken into account we have to consider how design thinking can have a global impact. This final part of the module brings together all the skills you have learned in previous blocks to teach you about how to integrate them all – balancing people, processes and materials – through the process of design. You will look at the global context of design and consider the ethical implications of what design thinking can achieve. In the final design project assessment you will be encouraged to pursue your own design thinking inquiry around a specific theme – for example, food, health, or leisure – leading to you designing a way to communicate the results of your inquiry.

Day schools

The module has three regional day schools associated with it. These will provide an opportunity to take your creative work for criticism and development, as well as engaging in creative activity. Attendance is encouraged but not compulsory. The cost of the day schools is included in the module fee.

You will learn

At the end of the module you will be able to identify the characteristics of design thinking and how it is different from other types of thinking. You will also have an awareness of how design thinking can be applied in a wide range of contexts from the personal to the global.

On a more practical level you will learn how to investigate and think creatively about design problems and opportunities, integrate different styles of thinking in a design process, and explore, evaluate and critique the design thinking of others. You will also discover how an attitude of playfulness can aid design thinking.

The module has a large online element and, in exploring the different environments it offers, you will learn about the creative possibilities of the internet. You will also learn how to identify and use expertise through social networking.

Vocational relevance

Design thinking is an ability that can be applied to a wide range of contexts, from the personal to the business sphere. It can help you creatively engage with a problem situation in almost any discipline. Design thinking is thus a module that has vocational relevance equally in the so-called ‘creative industries’, and in business more generally. The module is designed as a foundation for future study in design at The Open University but will also provide a foundation in design should you be considering studying design elsewhere.

Entry

This is a key introductory Level 1 module. Level 1 modules provide core subject knowledge and study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning, to help you to progress to modules at Level 2.

The module does not require any previous qualification, although it would be useful to have some experience of using the internet and a playful, creative attitude to life. If you have completed the short module Digital photography: creating and sharing better images (T189) you will be familiar with some of the teaching concepts in Design thinking, but this is not required.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

Outside the UK

This module is available to students outside the UK.

Preparatory work

Students registering for the module will receive a specially designed U101 Creative Welcome Pack with design thinking challenges to be used during the module.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

The module aims to teach students to solve problems creatively and we would like to encourage and support students with a disability or additional requirement to engage with the spirit of this in resolving any issues that they might experience during the module. Students with a visual impairment will probably need a sighted assistant to complete some of the module elements, but in other ways may find themselves in a strong position to talk about and utilise design thinking to improve their everyday life.

Transcripts of any audio components are provided and alternative format versions of online materials are available. Some alternative format components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and graphic materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Our Services for disabled students website has the latest information about availability.

The module is taught using multimedia and online materials including an interactive web-based design studio so students will need to spend considerable amounts of time using a personal computer and the internet. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in operating a computer and have any concerns about accessing the type of materials described, you are advised to talk to the Student Registration & Enquiry Service or contact the module team about the support that can be given to meet your needs.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Services for disabled students website for more information, including:

  • help to determine your study requirements and how to request the support that you need  
  • Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)
  • using a computer for OU study
  • equipment and other support services that we offer
  • examination arrangements
  • how to contact us for advice and support both before you register and while you are studying.

Study materials

What's included

  • A U101 Creative Welcome Pack; this is a specially designed box containing materials you need to begin your creative journey
  • Online study materials including: a module reference guide, U101 Module elements for study, containing audio, video and other multimedia
  • Access to online learning environments: module website, OpenDesignStudio, (the virtual design studio for the module) and full access to library materials
  • All software downloads which you will be using during the module.

You will need

You will also need the following to study this module:

  • a digital camera – 2 megapixel or greater – to take photos of your creative work
  • broadband internet access for quick downloading and uploading of information
  • a microphone for your computer to narrate presentations
  • a printer to print out your work.

Although not essential to study this module, you might also find it desirable to have access to the following:

  • a scanner to bring your doodles and sketches onto your computer
  • a graphics tablet to help you interact with your computer with a pen instead of a mouse.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this course as it includes online activities, which you can access using a web browser.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer since 2007 you should have no problems completing the online activities.
  • If you’ve got a netbook, tablet or other mobile computing device check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you use an Apple Mac you will need OS X 10.6 or later.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information including the details of the support we provide.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. If you are new to The Open University, you will find that your tutor is particularly concerned to help you with your study methods. Tuition will take place across a range of media: there will be group tutorials and day schools that you are strongly encouraged to attend.

Your tutor will also support you in your online activity – reviewing and giving feedback on your OpenDesignStudio work – as well as being a point of contact to discuss any other module-related issues. As a rough guide, 50 per cent of tutor support will be online, with 50 per cent being offline.

Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

A design portfolio and a 1500-word essay make up the end-of-module assessment (EMA).

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2014 and February 2015. We expect it to be available twice a year.

How to register

To register a place on this course return to the top of the page and use the Click to register button.

Student Reviews

“I loved this course. It's so tangible and real and it felt like the least online course I have taken. ...”
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“This was my first OU module and I found it very interesting because I expected to study "graphic design" in ...”
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Distance learning

The Open University is the world’s leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you’re at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you’ll be supported throughout your studies – your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information read Distance learning explained.

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.
Course facts
About this course:
Course code U101
Credits 60
OU Level 1
SCQF level 7
FHEQ level 4
Course work includes:
5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

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