Derek Jones


I am a Lecturer in Sustainable Design with the Open University and module chair for U101: Design Thinking, the innovative and award winning Level 1 entry course for the university’s Design and Innovation degree. I am also a qualified architect with over 15 years of experience in the construction design and procurement industries.  


  • B.Sc. (hons) Architecture Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art (1996)  
  • Bachelor of Architecture Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art (1999)  
  • Certificate in Mathematics The Open University (2006)

Previous Positions

  • Architect and BIM Manager, Keppie Design  
  • Director Project Manager, Burns Project Management  
  • Senior Architect, Atkins
  • Architect, James F Stephen Architects

I am interested in ideas - how ideas are formed in our minds, what we do with them, and how we use them in the world around us.

This special relationship between what we think and what we do is at the heart of design and especially design thinking. It also occupies a unique place in the mix of learning, research and practice - doing and thinking can be found in all three and this underpins my work in contemporary design thinking.

Design thinking allows us to explore these sorts of questions in practice, education and research. It also allows us a unique opportunity to merge theory and practice, meaning that we can speculate on and experience ideas. This informs each of my main research directions.

The pedagogy of design and creativity

  • Mechanisms of learning design at a distance
  • Assessment of design processes in design teaching
  • Attitudes to and social dimensions of creativity and design
  • Creativity as a 'normal' process in design

Design Thinking and theory

  • Issues in contemporary Design Thinking
  • The pragmatic tradition(s) in design thinking
  • Conceptions of architecture and place in architecture
  • Next steps in design thinking

 Virtual and augmented design environments

  • Digital design spaces in virtual learning spaces
  • Building Information Modelling (BIM) design processes for sustainability in practice and education
  • Adaptive architecture and sustainability

Current projects

  • Deisgn Thinking in the Chilean Education System: a collaboration with Universidad de Desarrollo, Santiago, exploring design thinking in general education.
  • Equal BITE. The follow up to BITE: Recipes for remarkable research, will explore the practice of engendering equality in academic (and other) workplaces.
  • Are we making Progress? An ESTEeM funded project looking at student progression and success in OpenDesignStudio across an entire qualification.
  • DRS 2016 Design Epistemologies. Co-convening a special theme as part of the DRS 50th anniversary conference.
  • Other scholarship pilots. Using the unique mode of learning and teaching in U101, I am engaged in a range of scholarship projects to understand and improve distance learning.

I am currently module presentation chair for U101: Design Thinking - Creativity for the 21st Century the innovative and award winning Level 1 entry course for the university’s Design and Innovation degree. I am also currently authoring T192: Engineering: Origins, Methods, Contexts, the new Level 1 engineering course. In Scotland, I am also an OU Associate Lecturer for U101: Design Thinking.

I have previously authored and lectured Building Construction Technology at Dundee College and have been a studio tutor for the Masters of Engineering course at Dundee University.

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