Innovation: designing for change
Innovations emerge from complex, dynamic, iterative processes. But how do designers, engineers, entrepreneurs, managers and users create opportunities and generate ideas for innovation? How are ideas developed into successful products, services and systems? What are the impacts of design and innovation? This online module uses a range of contemporary case studies to explore such questions. Its concerns go beyond innovation for commercial advantage to consider how, through responsible design, innovation can contribute to the development of a more sustainable future. The module includes a design and innovation project in which you will identify and research a problem, and develop your own solution.
What you will study
Central to the module is a project which will give you the opportunity to apply some of the concepts and methods that you will learn.
The module is structured into two parts, each made of up of three blocks that explore different aspects of innovation.
In Part 1 you’ll focus on how opportunities and ideas for innovation are created.
Next, in Part 2 you’ll consider how ideas for innovation are implemented and may result in widespread adoption. You’ll begin working on your project in this second part of the module.
The study material, which is delivered online, makes extensive use of a range of media and resources to support your learning.
Part 1 – Creating ideas and opportunities for innovation
Block 1: Exploring innovation sets the scene for the whole module. This block presents a number of case studies, including mobile phones and racing bikes, which introduce you to the design and innovation process, its outputs as product, service or system innovations, and its impacts. A model, which is used throughout the module to enable you to understand the design and innovation process, is presented at the end of this block.
Block 2: Sustainable innovation focuses on how design and innovation can address major challenges such as waste and climate change and how the relationships between products, people and context offer opportunities to design things differently. This block will help you critically evaluate design and innovation practices and to integrate social, technical and environmental knowledge in design thinking.
Block 3: Visions for change considers the role of visions of change in creating and promoting opportunities and ideas for design and innovation. It introduces approaches and tools that you can use to help develop visions of change. The block ends with a discussion of responsibilities and ethics of design and innovation.
Part 2 – Implementing ideas for widespread adoption
Block 4: Innovation projects: working for change focuses on the practice of designing product, system, and service innovations. You will learn how to undertake a design and innovation project and develop a design brief from your own ideas. This block will help you to select, use and evaluate a range of tools and methods to help with your design and innovation project.
Block 5: Creating concepts: places for people explores the processes and outcomes that contribute to the making of sustainable homes and built environments to show how design specifications and concepts are developed as part of the innovation process. It will equip you with the design thinking skills and tools to help you further develop your project.
Block 6: Implementing innovation: transport futures draws on case studies of projects in the area of transport and mobility to show how the details of an innovative product, service or system are developed. This block considers how the case for the implementation of these innovations is made and presents tools to assist in this process and help you to plan how your project might be advanced beyond the module.
- This is an OU level 3 module. OU level 3 modules build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from previous studies at OU levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject.
- This interdisciplinary module is designed to be suitable for students with a wide range of interests – arts, design, engineering, the environment or business – whether you have a technical background or not.
- You will need to be confident studying online as all the study materials for this module are delivered online via the module website.
- There are no prerequisites for this module other than point one above.
If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please speak to an adviser.
All the study materials for this module are presented online – there are no printed study materials.
They are available from the module website, and include:
- Module Guide
- Accessibility Guide
- Video and other multimedia
- OpenDesignStudio – the online design studio for this module
- Software downloads including the CES EduPack materials database and CompendiumDS (a tool that facilitates the mapping of ideas)
- Other formats such as ebooks in EPUB and .mobi format for some tablets.
You will need
- A digital camera or phone camera to take and upload photos of your work.
- Access to a printer to print out your work and other materials.
Although not essential, you might also find it desirable to have access to the following:
- A scanner or scanning app to put hand-drawn sketches onto your computer.
- A video camera.
You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS (11 'Big Sur' or higher).
Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.
To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).
Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.
Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.
It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.