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Dr Nicole Lotz

Profile summary

Professional biography

I joined the Open University as a Lecturer in Design in 2008 and became a Senior Lecturer in 2018. In 2019, I became Chair for the Engineering and Innovation AthenaSWAN Silver submission and I was appointed Equality Diversity Inclusivity and Accessibility Lead in 2020.

Previously, I was Research Associate at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Design. I've also worked as a design consultant for various agencies and companies in Germany and Hong Kong. 


Ph.D. Design Patterns for Cross-Cultural Collaboration: The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (2008)

Dipl.Des/MDes in Communication Design: Burg Giebichenstein, Halle, Germany (2002)

Research interests

My research interests are in inclusion and social aspects of designing and design education.

There is a synergy between my scholarship and research, both of which aim at understanding and supporting designers and those interested in creative design and making to engage, persevere and succeed even during challenging situations. My unique approach is to uncover and strengthen the designers’ shared values to drive engagement and collaboration.

I currently supervise 4 PhD students, with 2 completed projects. Andreas Peter looked at prototyping in design collaboration and graduated in 2015. Tanveer Ahmed critically examined inequalities in fashion design education and graduated in 2023.  Iain Aitchison investigates curricula development in design education. Daniel Chapman looks at youth violence in relation to social networking. Muriel Sippel investigates how creative thinking may support mental wellbeing in design education. Sam Osys looks into the ethical decisions in digital product design and Rachel Wood researches service co-design in parenting education. I am happy to supervise PhD students in subjects that broadly align with my interest framed by current and past projects.

Funded Projects

Developing student employability through solving real-world problems in collaboration with industry and communities in Yucatan (2019 - 2020)

This British Council Mexico HE Links funded project (£15K) sought to improve Universidad Privado de la Peninsula student’s employability skills through solving real-world problems in collaboration with potential employers in Yucatan, Mexico.

A knowledge exchange network between female Scientists and Entrepreneurs for the development of more inclusive social innovations in Yucatan (2019 - 2020)

This British Council Mexico HE Links funded project (£30K) brought together female scientists and entrepreneurs in Yucatan, Mexico to build a network of women linking their knowledge of scientific advancements with business ideas to pursue social innovations in Yucatan. 

Design and implementation of a FabLab in a marginalised district in Monterrey, Mexico (2019),

This British Council Mexico HE Links funded project (£15K) co-designed and co-implemented a FabLab in La Campana-Altamira district with members of the community.

Reducing marginalization and promoting inclusive education with the mediation of digital technology in Higher Education (2018)

This British Council Mexico HE Links funded project (£10K) developed projects that foster inclusive education in marginalised communities (disabled, ethnic minorities and conflicted communities in Mexico).

Developing a sense of community through cross-level engagement between staff and students in creative industries subjects. (2017-2018)

This OU internally funded scholarship project (E&I and eSTEeM and MSQ, £12k) aims to pilot and evaluate four innovative programme level engagement events that aim to create a community of learners across a qualification.

Designing effective, interactive learning resources to teach practical STEM subjects in Nigeria at a distance (2017)

This OU internally funded research networking event (RAS and eSTEeM, £6k) aimed at identifying pathways for collaborative research between NOUN and the OU to address Nigeria’s challenges in developing locally relevant and high-quality interactive ODL applications to teach STEM subjects at a distance. 

Are we making progress? Progression through learners’ interaction in OpenStudio across a qualification (2015 - 2017)

This OU internally funded scholarship project (eSTEeM, £6k) looks at learners' engagement with the online design community 'Open Design Studio' across the Design and Innovation qualification at the Open University.

Unite: Novice interaction design behaviour in different cultures (2011 - 2013)

This Leverhulme funded project (£86k) investigated novice interaction design behaviour in the UK and Botswana. We conducted protocol studies to investigate patterns of behaviour and diary studies to look at socio-cultural factors in designing in both cultures. Background information about this project can be found here.

ARCHI (2010 - 2012)

This EU funded project investigated 'Architectural and Design based Education and Practice through Content & Language Integrated Learning using Immersive Virtual Environments for 21st Century Skills'. More information can be found at

Atelier-D (2008 - 2010)

This JISC funded project looked at the development of a virtual design studio space to support student learning throughout the Design programme of the Open University. More information can be found at the Atelier-D website and at JISC.

Design pattern Wikis

The Wikis on design patterns in Cross-cultural collaboration, in Learning design, in self-directed learning and the Cloudscape on design pedagogy are not currently actively maintained. 


Teaching interests

In my teaching, I am involved, to some degree, in all our core Design and Innovation Qualification modules. I took part in the production of the groundbreaking Design Thinking module - U101. I am now Co-chair for U101. I was presentation chair for Design and Designing - T211 until 2012. I was part of the production team of the third level module Innovation: Designing for change - T317. Currently I am working on the produciton of T190 Design skills within our new formcoming BDes qualification.

I am interested in the design of innovative learning technologies, such as the OpenDesignStudio or CompendiumDS, and investigate the effectiveness of those in teaching and learning.

I lead the Annual Show of student work and I am interested in offering real-world employability opportunities for OU design students across all levels of study

Previously I have gained teaching experience in Hong Kong, at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and in the CONVIVIO international interaction design summer school in Romania.

Impact and engagement

Building Stories (2013)

I was Academic Advisor for 3 interactive stories shown on OpenLearn that are based on a 3-part BBC documentary 'Brits Who build the World' broadcasted in 2014.


I actively contribute, maintain and manage contributions of others in the areas of design education, design research, design engagement and design commentary to our Design Group's Design@Open blog

Design on YouTube

I actively contribute, maintain and manage contributions of others to our YouTube channel

External collaborations

DRS Design Pedagogy SIG convening group member.

I have worked with Botho University in Botswana and made links to NOUN, the National Open University of Nigeria. I maintain links to several German Higher Education Institutions around distance design education and work with Tec de Monterrey in Mexico and IYEM in Yucatan Mexico.

Externally funded projects

Novice interaction designers' behaviour in different cultures. (XC-10-070-HS)
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Co-investigator01 Oct 201131 Mar 2013LEVERHULME The Leverhulme Trust

In this project we will study the design activities of UK and Botswana students through constrained tasks and longitudinal observation, identifying differences and suggesting techniques to encourage and support the development of creative, reflective and independent design strategies that are sympathetic to the African context. We will compare the design strategies adopted by UK and Botswana students, and will suggest simple techniques that Botswana students may be taught to encourage and develop reflective thinking. This will have an immediate impact on the OU’s current module as well as future design modules. With the support of Botho College’s senior staff we will also disseminate our findings to educational policy makers within Botswana as a first step in producing a more practical and lasting impact on interaction design education in Southern Africa.


Design Education: Teaching in Crisis (2021-12)
Jones, Derek and Lotz, Nicole
Design and Technology Education: an International Journal, 26(4) (pp. 4-9)

A longitudinal study of Virtual Design Studio (VDS) use in STEM distance design education. (2021-09)
Jones, Derek; Lotz, Nicole and Holden, Georgina
International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 31 (pp. 839-865)

Socio-cultural factors and capacity building in Interaction Design: results of a video diary study in Botswana (2020-03)
Sharp, Helen; Lotz, Nicole; Mbayi-Kwelagobe, Letsema; Woodroffe, Mark; Rajah, Dino and Turugare, Ranganai
International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 135, Article 102375

Challenges for interaction design education in the South: a case study of Botswana (2020-01)
Lotz, Nicole and Sharp, Helen
Journal of International Development, 32(1) (pp. 62-84)

Colonial histories, museum collections, FabLabs and community engagement: flows of practices, cultures and people – a roundtable (2020)
Barnes, Amy Jane; Charnley, Kim; Dohmen, Renate and Lotz, Nicole
Open Arts Journal, 9, Article 7 (pp. 91-118)

Envisioning Futures of Design Education: An Exploratory Workshop with Design Educator (2018-09-14)
Singh, Sapna; Lotz, Nicole and Sanders, Elizabeth B.-N.
Dialectic, 2(1) (pp. 15-42)

The influence of cognitive style, design setting and cultural background on sketch-based ideation by novice interaction designers (2017)
Lotz, Nicole and Sharp, Helen
The Design Journal, 20(3) (pp. 333-356)

A process model for developing learning design patterns with international scope (2014-06-06)
Lotz, Nicole; Law, Effie Lai-Chong and Nguyen-Ngoc, Anh Vu
Educational Technology Research and Development, 62(3) (pp. 293-314)

Team design communication patterns in e-learning design and development (2013-08)
Rapanta, Chrysi; Maina, Marcelo; Lotz, Nicole and Bacchelli, Alberto
Educational Technology Research and Development, 61(4) (pp. 581-605)

Design patterns for cross-cultural collaboration (2009)
Schadewitz, Nicole
International Journal of Design, 3(3) (pp. 37-53)

Deep Space (2007-01)
Schadewitz, N.; Jachna, T. and Santo, Y.
International Journal of Architectural Computing, 5(1) (pp. 146-160)

From Digital Divide to Digital Discovery: Re-thinking Online Learning and Interactions in Marginalized Communities (2022-08)
Ching-Chiang, Lay-Wah Carolina; Fernández-Cárdenas, Juan Manuel; Lotz, Nicole; González-Nieto, Noé Abraham; Gaved, Mark; Jones, Derek; Díaz de León, Alejandra and Machado, Rafael
In: Abdelnour-Nocera, José; Makori, Elisha Ondieki; Robles-Flores, Jose Antonio and Bitso, Constance eds. Innovation Practices for Digital Transformation in the Global South: IFIP WG 13.8, 9.4, Invited Selection. IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology (pp. 34-58)
ISBN : 978-3-031-12824-0 / 978-3-031-12825-7 | Publisher : Springer, Cham

Just breathe (2014)
Lotz, Nicole and Jones, Derek
In: Williams, Alison; Jones, Derek and Robertson, Judy eds. BITE: Recipes for Remarkable Research (pp. 144-145)
ISBN : 978-94-6209-583-0 | Publisher : Sense Publishers | Published : Rotterdam

Disziplinen der Produktentwicklung aus der Perspektive des angelsächsischen Raums (2011-03-24)
Eckert, Claudia and Schadewitz, Nicole
In: Banse, Gerhard and Fleischer, Lutz-Günther eds. Wissenschaft im Kontext. Inter- und Transdisziplinarität in Theorie und Praxis. Abhandlungen der Leibniz-Sozietät der Wissenschaften (27)
ISBN : 978-3-89626-896-9 | Publisher : trafo wissenschaft verlag | Published : Berlin

Innovative collaborative design in international interaction design summer schools (2009)
Schadewitz, Nicole
In: Poggenpohl, Sharon and Sato, Keiichi eds. Design Integrations: Research and Collaboration (pp. 230-250)
ISBN : 9781841502403 | Publisher : Intellect | Published : UK

Empathy Board: co-designing and decolonising curriculum in distance design education (2023-12-01)
Darbandi, Cindy; Rodrigues, Ida; Lotz, Nicole and Hale, Vera
In : The 7th International Conference for Design Education Researchers (29 Nov - 1 Dec 2023, London, UK)

Illuminating themes and narratives in studio through expert elicitation and collaborative autoethnography (2022)
Marshalsey, L. and Lotz, N.
In : DRS2022: Bilbao (25 Jun - 3 Jul, Bilbao, Spain)

Gender equality work in a distance learning institution (2022)
Lotz, Nicole; Siddharthan, Advaith; Priola, Cinzia and Wallace, Janette
In : Diversity Interventions 2022 (7-8 Apr 2022, Oxford)

Hyperlocal Learning Network ‘La Campana-Altamira’: Using low-cost technologies to support maker education during lockdown times (2021-06-24)
Ching-Chiang, Lay-Wah Carolina; González-Nieto, Noé Abraham; Gaved, Mark; Jones, Derek; Lotz, Nicole; Díaz de León, Alejandra; Machado, Rafael and Fernández-Cárdenas, Juan Manuel
In : Proceedings of Communities and Technologies 2021 (20-25 Jun 2021, Seattle, USA (online))

OpenDesignStudio: virtual studio development over a decade (2019)
Lotz, Nicole; Jones, Derek and Holden, Georgina
In : Proceedings of the DRS LearnXdesign Conference 2019 (9-12 Jul 2019, Ankara)

Co-creating FabLab La Campana: Empowering a marginalised community in the North of Mexico (2019)
Lotz, Nicole; Thomas, Briony; Fernández Cárdenas, Juan Manuel; Reynaga Peña, Cristina; Díaz de León Lastras, Alejandra; Cortes Capetillo, Azael; González Nieto, Noe; Santamaría-Cid de León, David; López, Fabio; Machado, Rafa and Hayhoe, Simon
In : IASDR 2019 The International Association of Societies of Design Research (2-5 Sep 2019, Manchester)

Engaging Qualities: factors affecting learner attention in online design studios (2018-06-25)
Lotz, Nicole; Jones, Derek and Holden, Georgy
In : Proceedings of DRS 2018 (25-28 Jun 2018, Limerick, Ireland) (pp. 2746-2764)

Lurking and learning: Making learning visible in a Virtual Design Studio (2017)
Jones, Derek; Lotz, Nicole and Holden, Georgina
In : LearnX Design 2017 (27-30 Jun 2017, London) (pp. 176-183)

Out of sight, out of mind: curriculum representation in design education today (2015-06-28)
Aitchison, Iain; Dewberry, Emma and Lotz, Nicole
In : 3rd International Conference for Design Education Researchers (28-30 Jun 2015, Chicago, Il, USA) (pp. 1536-1551)

Social engagement in online design pedagogies (2015-06-28)
Lotz, Nicole; Jones, Derek and Holden, Georgina
In : 3rd International Conference for Design Education Researchers (28-30 Jun 2015, Chicago, Il, USA) (pp. 1645-1668)

Framing behaviours in novice interaction designers (2014-06)
Lotz, Nicole; Sharp, Helen; Woodroffe, Mark; Blyth, Richard; Rajah, Dino and Ranganai, Turugare
In : DRS 2014: Design's Big Debates. (16-19 Jun 2014, Umeå, Sweden) (pp. 1178-1190)

A protocol study of novice interaction design behaviour in Botswana: solution-driven interaction design (2013-09)
Sharp, Helen; Lotz, Nicole; Blyth, Richard; Woodroffe, Mark; Rajah, Dino and Ranganai, Turugare
In : BCS HCI Conference 2013 (9-13 Sep 2013, London)

Co-evolving problems and solutions: The case of novice interaction designers in Botswana and the UK (2013-08)
Lotz, Nicole; Sharp, Helen; Woodroffe, Mark; Richard, Blyth; Rajah, Dino and Ranganai, Turugare
In : IASDR (26-30 Aug, Tokyo, Japan) (pp. 1004-1015)

The effect of prototyping material on verbal and non-verbal behaviours in collaborative design tasks (2013-08)
Peter, Andreas; Lotz, Nicole; McDonnell, Janet and Lloyd, Peter
In : 5th International Congress of International Association of Societies of Design Research (IASDR) (26-30 Aug 2013, Tokyo, Japan) (pp. 2382-2393)

A frame signature matrix for analysing and comparing interaction design behaviour (2012-09)
Blyth, Richard; Schadewitz, Nicole; Sharp, Helen; Woodroffe, Mark; Rajah, Dino and Turugare, Ranganai
In : BCS HCI Conference (12-14 Sep 2012, Birmingham)

Talk around things: prototyping and discussion in the design process (2011)
Peter, Andreas; Schadewitz, Nicole and Lloyd, Peter
In : 4th World Conference on Design Research (IASDR2011) (31 Oct - 4 Nov 2011, Delft, The Netherlands)

Design and communication patterns observed in an eLearning design team: A case-study (2010-06-29)
Rapanta, Chrysi; Schadewitz, Nicole and Holden, Georgina
In : World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications (Ed-Media 2010) (29 Jun 2010, Toronto, Canada) (pp. 356-365)

Design education, design research (2009-09)
Holden, Georgina; Schadewitz, Nicole and Zamenopoulos, Theodore
In : Designs on Elearning (02-04 Sep 2009, Online)

Cross-cultural collaboration Wiki: evolving knowledge about international teamwork (2009-02-20)
Schadewitz, Nicole and Zakaria, Norhayati
In : 2009 International Workshop on Intercultural Collaboration (IWIC '09) (20-21 Feb 2009, Palo Alto, CA, USA)

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

STAR framework revisited: Curriculum for user-centered design summer schools (2008)
Roberts, Joi L.; Schadewitz, Nicole and Adler, Pedro Jorge
In : Proceedings of Connected 2007, International Conference on Design Education (9-12 Jul 2007, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)

Utilizing FM software in collaborative design-learning (2008)
Schadewitz, Nicole; Garner, Steve and Ferreira, Giselle
In : HCI 2008 Workshop 'HCI for Technology-Enhanced Learning' (15 Sep 2008, Liverpool)

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

Comparing inductive and deductive methodologies for design patterns identification and articulation (2007-11)
Schadewitz, Nicole and Jachna, Timothy
In : International Design Research Conference IADSR 2007 Emerging Trends in Design Research (12-15 Nov 2007, Hong Kong)

Introducing New Methodologies for Identifying Design Patterns for Internationalization and Localization (2007-07)
Schadewitz, Nicole and Jachna, Timothy
In : International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (HCII) (22-27 Jul 2007, Beijing, China)

Comparing design summer schools in European and Asian contexts (2006-11-10)
Schadewitz, Nicole and Jachna, Timothy
In : Proceedings of the International Design Research Symposium, IDRS (10-12 Nov 2006, Seoul, Korea)

The STAR Interaction Design Summer Schools Framework (2006-11)
Schadewitz, Nicole; Adler, Pedro-Jorge; Moncur, Wendy and Roberts, Joi
In : Proceedings of WONDERGROUND, International Deign Research Conference (1-3 Nov 2006, Lisbon, Portugal)

Interaction and Interface Design Patterns for Intercultural Collaboration (2005-07)
Schadewitz, Nicole
In : Proceedings of the 7th International Workshop on Internationalisation of Products and Systems (IWIPS '05) (7-9 Jul 2005, Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Interface and Interaction Design Patterns for Intercultural Collaboration (2005-07)
Schadewitz, Nicole
In : Proceedings of the Seventh International Workshop on Internationalisation of Products and Systems (7-9 Jul 2005, Amsterdam)