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Welcome to OU Design Courses

A cloud for people involved in OU Design Courses to meet and discuss issues of common interest

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Georgina Holden
4 November 2009

Welcome to this cloud. Who are you? What brings you here? I am Georgy Holden, chair of the level 3 design course "Innovation: Designing for a sustainable future", and a course team member of the other design courses. 

Contact details: Georgy Holden g.m.holden@open.ac.uk

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Some thoughts about design thinking

Some thoughts about design thinking

added by Georgina Holden

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Gráinne Conole
9:11am 5 November 2009 (Edited 7:18pm 6 November 2009)


Great topic for a cloud Georgina! Very timely as we in the OU Learning Design Initiative have been talking about how we need to take more account of the kind of design practices you are engaged in in your discipline in learning design. Simon Cross and Paul Clark refer to its as design into learning design I think.

Georgina Holden
9:39am 5 November 2009


Gráinne, design thinking is increasingly being used on the most intractable of problems to good effect, so I feel sure it can contribute to  learning design. We are proposing to use Cloudworks as part of the next stage of the AtelierD JISC project in curriculum delivery, this cloudscape will be used for tutors (and students) to come together and discuss 'on the ground' teaching and learning strategies.

Gráinne Conole
10:33am 5 November 2009


I totally agree I think it has a huge amount to offer! *Great* news that you are planning to use cloudworks do please give myself or Rebecca Galley a shout if you need any help or if you want to talk ideas through. We think this is shaping up to be a distinct and very exciting, vibrant interational space for L&T debate. Ww have participants from 134 countries - hard to believe!

Paul Clark
12:41pm 5 November 2009


Simon Cross and I have been drawn into thinking about the way in which established practices of design can enhance the processes (and hence the products) of learning design activity. So we have been considering the question "how to put design into Learning Design?

One aspect of design that has received little comment is that of the aesthetic dimension. The problem-solving, practical nature of design has been featured-even finding solutions to problems that have yet to be articulated. But it seems to me that a good design also has aspects of elegance, innovation and aesthetic impact.  So I have drawn these dimensions (practical and aesthetic) on a diagram that is accessible via the link posted above.  The ambition in designing would be to find a solution in the upper right-hand quadrant. How do we apply this suggestion to Learning Design?

Paul Clark

Gráinne Conole
12:55pm 5 November 2009


I think this is really useful Paul - these are two key dimension of design. It seems a complementary view in terms of the process  of design are the dimensions of creativity vs. practical specification. An analogy is an architects vision for a build vs. the actual builders blueprint.

nicole schadewitz
12:45pm 6 November 2009


It is an interesting idea to apply the notion of design thinking  to the area of sharing and developing learning designs.

Drawaing on the points made earlier in the discussion multiple questions come into my mind:

How can we prototype learning designs? How can we integrate stakeholders into the design process? How can we communicate our design thinking on learnign designs?

Aesthetic is a very interesting point. Alexander called it 'the quality without a name' in his pattern language. In the design discipline, the notion of esthetics often remains tacid knowledge not easy to fomlaise in words, however it is imprinted in form and designed products. But what does aesthetics mean when there is no physical form to design or when the physicality is only a small aspect, as in learning designs? I can get my head around practical learning designs, but how do aesthetic learning designs 'look like'?

Georgina Holden
1:02pm 6 November 2009


Although aesthetics are indeed difficult to pin down, perhaps there are some ideas around what makes a good aesthetic that could be useful, ideas of proportion, elegance, sensory pleasure, or to take it back to its original etymology, 'to perceive, feel, sense'. There is an area of design research and practice  known as 'experience design', which focuses on designing the whole user experience. This is one clear area where LD and DT meet, I feel sure there are others.

nicole schadewitz
1:06pm 7 November 2009 (Edited 1:07pm 7 November 2009)


Yes that is right, there is a lot of dicsussion around the idea of learner's experience and experience design. The question would probably be to understand and address how learners perceive, feel and sense in learning designs? 

A presentation at IASDR in Seoul also linked aesthetics to ethics! I found this to be a very interesting line of thought. What is morally acceptable for students and teachers to perceive, feel and sense? This reminds me of the discussion we had around the exercise, or call it 'learning design' of 'being somone else'. You remember the discussion, Georgy?

Gráinne Conole
3:00pm 7 November 2009 (Edited 3:04pm 7 November 2009)


Nicole, Georgina - excellent discussion! Interesting you should mentined Alexander - I love his stuff and as you probably know there is now a large research area around the development of pedagogical patterns. Peter Goodyear, one of the key researcher in this area, did an excellent keynote last week which I live blog, see this cloud. Aethetics in terms of learning? I think that would translate into something about how the learner "experiences' the activity, about whether it is coherent, maybe also something to do with the affective/motivational aspects of the activity. Nicole can you add a link to the ISDR presentation you mentioned - sounds very interesting. I heard an excellent presentation at Edmedia the year before last about design - creativity and practice by Michael Dertnl and colleagues, which is very relevant to this discussion. They have since written it up as a journal article.

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