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Mr Derek Jones


Profile summary

Professional biography

I am a Senior Lecturer in Design at The Open University (UK) and part of the OU Design Group. I am a member of the team responsible for U101: Design Thinking, the award-winning entry-level design course for the university’s Design and Innovation degree. My main research interests are: the pedagogy of design and creativity, embodied cognition in physical and virtual environments, and theories of design knowledge. I am also a qualified architect with 15 years of experience in the construction design and procurement industries and Convenor of the Design Research Society’s Pedagogy special interest group.


Research interests

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 I believe that this underpins 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

  • Theory and practice of learning design in distance and online settings
  • Studio theory and practice, especially properties of studios applied across different modes
  • Attitudes to, and social dimensions of, creativity and creativity as a 'normal' process in design

Design theory

  • Issues in contemporary design thinking and the applicaiton of pragmatic tradition(s) and philosophy
  • Conceptions of place in architecture
  • Embodied cognition and ecosophy applied to design theory and practice

 Virtual design environments

  • Virtual design studios and technology applied in learning contexts
  • Digital design spaces in virtual learning spaces
  • Building Information Modelling (BIM) design processes for sustainability in practice and education

Current projects

  • Special Issue: Alternative Studios: Design Education Changes in 2020
  • Hyperlocal project, local networked education project working with the La Campana-Altamira community.
  • Distance Design Education Website. Set up to support design educators moving to distance and online teaching. Supported by the Design Research Society Pedagogy SIG and The Open University (UK) Design Group.
  • Audio Feedback in Distance Design Education. Exploring the mechanisms and affordances of different modes and strategies for tuition feedback in distance design education.

Teaching interests

I have chaired presentation of  U101: Design Thinking - Creativity for the 21st Century and was the author of Part 2 of T192: Engineering: origins, methods, context, the University's new first level engineering course. I am curently working on the new Bachelro of Design qualification at the OU as well as contributing to T317: Innovation: Desgn for change.

In conjunction with colleagues in the Design Group and LTS, I previously led the design, development and implementation of OpenStudio, the pioneering online portfolio and virtual design studio used in 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.

Impact and engagement

Future engagements

Futures of Design Education events

Past engagements

November 2019 Pragmatic Nihilism TEDxOpenUniversity Talk

30 September - 01 October 2016 - Wigtown Book Festival. Public talks on Creativity; More Creativity (!); and Architecure and Storytelling:

27-30 June 2015 - Design Research Society 50th Anniversary Conference 2016 theme co-chair for Design Epistemology.

External collaborations

BITE 2: Equal BITE project with Edinburgh University


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)

Rethinking retrofit of residential heritage buildings (2021-06-14)
Wise, Freya; Moncaster, Alice and Jones, Derek
Buildings and Cities, 2(1) (pp. 495-517)

Reducing carbon from heritage buildings: the importance of residents’ views, values and behaviours (2021-06)
Wise, Freya; Jones, Derek and Moncaster, Alice
Journal of Architectural Conservation, 27(1-2) (pp. 117-146)

Audio feedback in distance design education (2021)
Jones, Derek and Hilton, Clive
Design and Technology Education: An International Journal ((In press))

Considering embodied energy and carbon in heritage buildings – a review (2019)
Wise, F.; Moncaster, A.; Jones, D. and Dewberry, E.
IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 329, Article 12002

Embodied cognitive ecosophy: the relationship of mind, body, meaning and ecology (2017-07)
Jones, Derek
Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography, 99(2) (pp. 156-171)

El diseño va al colegio: Oportunidades de Aplicación del Proceso de Diseño en la Educación Escolar Chilena [Design goes to school: Opportunities to apply the design process in Chilean school education] (2016-12)
Bravo, Úrsula; Cortés, Catalina; Honorato, María Jesús; Rivera, Maritza; Ceric, Fransisco; Lloyd, Peter and Jones, Derek
Base : Diseño para la Educación del Siglo Xxi(2) (pp. 228-241)

Reading students’ minds : design assessment in distance education (2014)
Jones, Derek
Journal of Learning Design, 7(1) (pp. 27-39)

Everyday creativity in design process (2013-12-01)
Lloyd, Peter and Jones, Derek
Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education, 12(2) (pp. 247-263)

Building information modelling design ecologies: a new model? (2013)
Jones, Derek and Dewberry, Emma
International Journal of 3-D Information Modeling, 2(1) (pp. 53-64)

The spatial and social constructs of creative situations (2014-02)
Bostwick-Lorenzo Eiroa, Meredith and Jones, Derek
In: Williams, Alison; Jones, Derek and Robertson, Judy eds. BITE: Resipes for Remarkable Research (pp. 260-266)
ISBN : 978-94-6209-582-3 | Publisher : Sense Publishers | Published : Rotterdam

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

An alternative (to) reality (2013)
Jones, Derek
In: Childs, Mark and Peachey, Anna eds. Understanding Learning in Virtual Worlds. Human–Computer Interaction Series (pp. 1-20)
ISBN : 978-1-4471-5369-6 | Publisher : Springer London | Published : London

EqualBITE: Gender equality in higher education (2017-11)
Robertson, Judy; Williams, Alison; Jones, Derek; Isbel, Lara and Loads, Daphne eds.
ISBN : 9789463511414 | Publisher : Sense Publishers | Published : Rotterdam

BITE: Recipes for Remarkable Research (2014-02-24)
Williams, Alison; Jones, Derek and Robertson, Judy eds.
ISBN : 978-94-6209-583-0 | Publisher : Sense Publishers | Published : Rotterdam

Exploring studio proximities: Space, time, being (2022)
Jones, Derek
In : Design Research Society International Conference. Bilbao, Spain. (25 Jun - 1 Jul 2022, Bilbao, Spain)

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)

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)

Narrative Realities and Optimal Entropy (2017-06-09)
Jones, Derek
In : IS4SI 2017 Summit DIGITALISATION FOR A SUSTAINABLE SOCIETY (12-16 Jun 2017, Gothenburg, Sweden)

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)

Introduction: Design Epistemology (2016)
Jones, Derek; Plowright, Philip; Bachman, Leonard and Poldma, Tiiu
In : DRS 2016 International Conference: Future – Focused Thinking (27-30 Jun 2016, Brighton) (pp. 295-302)

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)

Reflection-in-action and motivated reasoning (2015-06-26)
Jones, Derek
In : 3rd International Conference for Design Education Researchers (28-30 Jun 2015, Chicago, Il, USA) (pp. 1599-1615)

Normal creativity : What 1,038 t‐shirts can tell you about design education (2013)
Lloyd, Peter and Jones, Derek
In : 2nd International Conference for Design Education Researchers (14-17 May 2013, Oslo) (pp. 307-321)

Which way is up? Space and place in virtual learning environments for design (2013)
Jones, Derek and Lloyd, Peter
In : 2nd International Conference for Design Education Researchers (14-17 May 2013, Oslo) (pp. 552-563)

Building Information Modelling design ecologies - a new model? (2012-09)
Jones, Derek and Dewberry, Emma
In : First UK Academic conference on BIM: Conference Proceedings (5-9 Sep 2012, Northumbria University)

An alternative (to) reality (2011)
Jones, Derek
In : Proceedings of the Researching Learning in Immersive Virtual Environments Conference (21-22 Sep 2011, The Open University, Milton Keynes)

Studio use in Distance Design Education (2022-04-13)
Jones, Derek
PhD thesis The Open University

Innovating Pedagogy 2019: Open University Innovation Report 7 (2019-01-02)
Ferguson, Rebecca; Coughlan, Tim; Egelandsdal, Kjetil; Gaved, Mark; Herodotou, Christothea; Hillaire, Garron; Jones, Derek; Jowers, Iestyn; Kukulska-Hulme, Agnes; McAndrew, Patrick; Misiejuk, Kamila; Ness, Ingun Johanna; Rienties, Bart; Scanlon, Eileen; Sharples, Mike; Wasson, Barbara; Weller, Martin and Whitelock, Denise
The Open University, Milton Keynes.