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Digital transformation design thinking

Learn how to use design thinking to drive innovation within digital transformation and create effective user-centred solutions with The Open University (OU) and industry experts, Target Internet. Whether you’re new to design thinking or have some experience, in this course, you’ll explore the design thinking process and learn how to apply this structured approach to solve problems creatively. Discover tools and techniques to uncover user needs and pain points, understand the problem, develop insightful problem statements, generate ideas and solutions, and test prototypes effectively to deliver successful outcomes.

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Standalone study only

You will not be awarded credits for studying this course. It is available for standalone study only and cannot be counted towards an OU qualification.

Short course

Short course code



This is a non-credit bearing course.

Study method

Short course cost

Entry requirements

What you will study

Design thinking is a solution-based approach to creative problem-solving. In this course, you’ll discover what design thinking is, why it works well for digital transformation, and gain a step-by-step approach to implementing it as part of your digital transformation plans. 

Practical exercises will help you to apply your new knowledge, and the social learning approach will empower you to further enhance and reflect on your understanding by sharing your thoughts and opinions with co-learners.

Delivered over four easy-to-digest sections, you will cover:

1: An introduction to design thinking

  • The design thinking approach
  • The role of innovation in digital transformation
  • Structured innovation
  • The stages of design thinking
  • Creating the right conditions for design thinking
  • Planning a design thinking project

2: The discover phase of design thinking

  • Defining the field of search
  • The role of divergent thinking
  • Interviews and observations
  • Developing personas
  • The role of empathy
  • User journey mapping

3: The define phase of design thinking

  • Redefining the problem
  • Focusing on the right people
  • Too broad or too narrow?
  • Analysing needs
  • Prioritising
  • The problem statement

4: The develop and deploy phases of design thinking

  • Finding ideas
  • Developing ideas
  • Creative techniques
  • Evaluating ideas
  • Prototyping
  • Testing and maintenance.

You will learn

By the end of the course, you’ll have the skills to:

  • understand the key stages and phases of design thinking
  • plan design thinking processes to create a structured approach to innovation
  • create team and organisational conditions to enable effective design thinking
  • develop design thinking plans as part of a broader digital transformation strategy.

Vocational relevance

Professionals who can implement design thinking for digital transformation are in high demand as it’s a key differentiator for businesses and a valuable asset for career growth in today’s digitally-driven world. Businesses across industries are using design thinking to solve problems, improve decision-making, and foster innovation, creativity, and a user-centred focus.

This course has been created by the OU in collaboration with industry experts, Target Internet, who deliver digital training to some of the world’s leading organisations, as well as building online learning that is used in over 100 countries worldwide.

Learner support

There is no tuition on this course and all study is self-directed. Throughout the course, you will have the opportunity to enhance and reflect on your understanding by sharing your thoughts and opinions with co-learners.

Teaching and assessment


This online course is delivered via social learning and includes video, audio, and written tutorials. You can learn at your own pace with complete flexibility. Throughout the course, you will be asked to respond to questions, reflect on your experiences and learning, and carry out short exercises to help you develop your understanding.

At the end of each section, you will be asked to answer a set of multiple-choice questions to test your knowledge. You can attempt these as often as you need to. It is important to complete them because they count towards your final score.

To receive a Certificate of Completion, you will need to complete every section and achieve at least 70% in all tests.


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

Entry requirements

You don’t need any prior knowledge of design thinking or digital transformation to join this course, although any work experience will enhance and contextualise your learning.

It’s suitable for those who are new to design thinking and digital transformation who want to build their knowledge and skillset, those who want to use design thinking to drive a digital transformation strategy, and more experienced practitioners who want to cement their knowledge of design thinking in practice.

The content in this course is suitable for a global audience and the skills you learn can be applied in a wide range of roles and types of organisations, from small businesses to global multinationals, whether in the public or third sector, large corporates, or SMEs.

If you'd like to discuss the suitability of the course, please contact us.

Please note: This is one of six courses in a series that are designed to build on one another. If you’re new to digital transformation and plan to study more than one course, it’s recommended you take them in the following order:

  1. Introduction to digital transformation
  2. Digital transformation foundations
  3. Digital transformation readiness
  4. Digital transformation performance
  5. Digital transformation design thinking
  6. Data in digital transformation.

Course length

This course will take around 24 hours to complete and you can learn at your own pace. As a guide, if you set aside four hours per week, it would take six weeks to complete.

You can begin learning at any time. You will have a minimum of six months and up to 18 months to complete the course, depending on your registration date.


Start End England fee Register
At anytime before registration end date Jan 2025 - see Entry requirements for more detail £250.00

Registration closes 31/07/2024


Ways to pay

Credit/Debit Card – We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron.

Sponsorship – If this course is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could ask your employer to sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. Your sponsor just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.

The fee information provided here is valid for short courses starting in the 2024/25 academic year. Fees typically increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules.

Can you study an Access module for free?

Depending on eligibility and availability of places, you could apply to study your Access module for free.

To qualify, you must:

  1. be resident in England
  2. have a household income of less than £25,000 (or be in receipt of a qualifying benefit)
  3. have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at FHEQ level 4 or above or successfully completed 30 credits or more of OU study within the last 10 years

How to apply to study an Access module for free

Once you've started the registration process, either online or over the phone, we'll contact you about your payment options. This will include instructions on how you can apply to study for free if you are eligible and funded places are still available.

If you're unsure if you meet the criteria to study for free, you can check with one of our friendly advisers on +44 (0)300 303 0069, or you can request a call back.

Not eligible to study for free?

Don't worry! We offer a choice of flexible ways to help spread the cost of your Access module. The most popular options include:

  • monthly payments through OUSBA
  • part-time tuition fee loan (you'll need to be registered on a qualification for this option)

To explore all the options available to you, visit Fees and Funding.

What's included

All learning materials, exercises and activities are delivered entirely online.

Computing requirements

You can learn from your desktop computer or laptop or take your learning with you on a phone or tablet. You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop/laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher. Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all currently supported Android and iOS versions.

If you have a disability

The course is delivered online and makes use of a variety of online resources. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in using a computer or the internet, you can contact us about the support which can be given to meet your needs.