10. Design education in the open

Nigel Cross and Georgina Holden (Design Group, The Open University)


From its inception in the 1970s the UK Open University faced the challenge of teaching design to students at a distance and with open entry qualifications. Teaching design ‘in the open’ has required creative approaches to aid students in the acquisition of requisite skills, knowledge and values. OU design courses pioneered the teaching of design for a broad, non-specialist audience and in identifying the particular characteristics of design thinking, influencing not only OU students but wider teaching in the higher education sector. These principles have been applied during the development of design education at the OU from printed text and broadcast TV into the use of digital media and the Internet. Over time, technological changes, together with concomitant changes in HE generally, have brought different modes of design education closer together, but the OU continues to pioneer in design pedagogy.

Keywords: design education, design thinking, educational media, open learning

Full text: OAJ_Issue9_Cross_Final (PDF 4.4 MB).

DOI:  http://dx.doi.org/10.5456/issn.2050-3679/2020w10

Biographical notes 

Nigel Cross was the first lecturer appointed in Design at the Open University in 1970 and is now Emeritus Professor of Design Studies. His books include Designerly Ways of Knowing (Springer, 2006) and Design Thinking (Bloomsbury, 2011). He is Emeritus Editor in Chief of the design research journal Design Studies.

Georgina Holden was one of the earliest students of Design at the OU. She is now a Senior Lecturer in Design and Innovation at the Open University where she has worked in a variety of roles since 1984. She leads the BA/BSc Design and Innovation programme and has contributed to the development and materials of all of the current core design modules.