Teaching and Learning in Design


The Open University has an international reputation for innovative distance teaching and learning.

Recent work in the Design Group has pioneered the use of e-learning in design including the construction of a virtual atelier http://design.open.ac.uk/atelier-d/. This research area seeks to develop new tools and processes that have an impact on the teaching and learning in schools and universities. Research topics of staff and students include:

  • Design pedagogy in primary and secondary education
  • Design education technology
  • Distance design education and e-learning
  • Teaching sustainability in design
  • Creative learner communities
  • Supporting education in STEM subjects

Researchers include:

Professor Steve Garner
Dr Nicole Schadewitz
Dr Theodore Zamenopoulos
Dr Emma Dewberry
Georgina Holden

Recent projects and outputs:

This JISC-funded two-year project at the Open University was titled Achieving Transformation, Enhanced Learning and Innovation through Educational Resources in Design (ATELIER-D). It ran from Nov 2008 to Dec 2010. Value £180k. http://designthinking.typepad.com/atelierd/

ARCHI21 Design and language learning

The EU Lifelong Learning programme (Key Activity 2: Languages) is funding a project titled ARCHI21 - Architectural and design based education and practice through content & language integrated learning using immersive virtual environments for 21st century skills. Steve Garner, Theo Zamenopoulos, Georgy Holden, Katerina Alexiou and Nicole Schadewitz are co-investigators on the ARCHI 21 project which involves six EU partner universities in a project to explore the application of new technologies to language learning and teaching in design – particularly architecture education. ARCHI21 is a two-year project worth a total of 400K Euros. The research, which began in November 2010, builds on the foundation established by the JISC-funded ATELIER-D project between 2008 and 2010. http://designthinking.typepad.com/archi21/


The SusTEACH project (Sustainable Tools for the Environmental Appraisal of the Carbon Impacts of Higher Education Teaching Models using ICTs) is funded under the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) Greening ICT Programme. It is the work of Andy Lane and Sally Caird and it began in February 2011.  The SusTEACH project will examine the transformative impact of ICTs on HE teaching models, and assess the environmental and life-time impacts of teaching models including design modules, in UK universities.  http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/susteach/ 



Holden, Georgina; Schadewitz, Nicole and Zamenopoulos, Theodore (2009). Design education, design research. In:Designs on Elearning, 02-04 Sep 2009, Online.


Schadewitz, Nicole (2009). Innovative collaborative design in international interaction design summer schools. In:Poggenpohl, Sharon and Sato, Keiichi eds. Design Integrations: Research and Collaboration. UK: Intellect, pp. 230–250.


Schadewitz, Nicole and Zamenopoulos, Theodore (2009). Towards an online design studio: a study of social networking in design distance learning. In: International Association of Societies of Design Research (IASDR) Conference 2009, 18-22 Oct 2009, Seoul, South Korea.  


Schadewitz, Nicole; Garner, Steven and Ferreira, Giselle (2008). Utilising Flash Meeting software in collaborative design-learning. In: HCI for Technology Enhanced Learning, at HCI 2008: Culture, Creativity and Interaction, 1 Sep 2008, Liverpool, UK.

Current PhD students

Debi Wynn (2007-). Research topic: Developing creative thinkers through the school technology curriculum. Supervisors Prof. Steve Garner and Prof Frank Banks.

Karl Jeffries (2010-). Research topic: Education for the creative industries. Supervisors Prof Steve Garner and Dr Alison Green, Psychology.

  • UNITE: Novice Interaction Design BehaviourThe project looks at novice interaction design behaviour in Botswana and the UK. It aims to identify simple behaviours that can be taught to novice interaction designers from both cultural settings to improve their designs, and to identify socio-cultural factors affecting the process and product of design.