Skills for studying design and innovation

Do you have the skills needed to study design and innovation?

What do you think the key elements of studying design and innovation might be?

Draw a table like the one below (or print this page). Indicate how important you think each of the elements below is, using 1 for not important through to 5 for very important. In the right hand column show how confident you feel with each of these aspects at this moment. 1 for not confident through to 5 for very confident



Importance 1-5

Level of confidence 1-5










Critical analysis


















Using I.T.



You may have realised that all of these skills are important for design and innovation:

Drawing           Communicating ideas in hand or computer drawn form is a key part of designing

Modelling         3D models, however rough, are often used by designers to communicate their ideas

Writing             The ability to write about ideas, to justify them and explain them as well as to demonstrate understanding is important for design students

Critical analysis  Being able to look at objects and issues critically is important for any university level study.

Referencing     Finding evidence to support views and proposals is a key part of university level study

Presenting       The ability to put together a presentation to  present an idea persuasively is important for any design student 

Collaborating    Working with others is a skill needed in many industries and businesses, opportunities to collaborate will be found at different points of your study

Researching    Being able to thoroughly research a topic to ensure design and innovation decisions are based on sound information is very important

Interviewing    Talking to people to understand a problem or area for development is key to finding solutions that meet real needs

Using I.T.        Using I.T. is crucial in many professions and in designing it is particularly important as there are many software tools that help designers

Did you have lots of 1s and 2s in your confidence column? If so don’t worry, as you progress through the course you will develop these skills, the important thing is being willing to engage with them. If you begin the course by taking U101 Design Thinking then you will find that these skills are developed from the outset. However, if you would like a head start below you will find some resources to help you get a feel for some of these skills.

Drawing and Modelling

The following resources were created for OU design students and you may encounter some of them as you study, but if you want to get a head start do explore them now as the key to developing any skill is practice!

Sketching for beginners

Sketching and modelling

Design thinking

Core writing and reading skills

University level study requires some core skills to read and write in an academic context. The following link to general study skills resources may be particularly helpful if you have not studied for a long time or are not very confident about university level study. There are many topics covered in this Study Skills area so think about where you need to improve your skills and choose the topics that are most relevant to your current needs. You can always come back to this area whenever you need to during your studies and you will find a link to it from your StudentHome page. 

Open University Study Skills Pages


Researching and interviewing

The ability to research design issues is important when designing. The link below gives you a taste of some of the methods that are used to find out about potential users to help the design process: 

People centred designing

Study Skills including referencing

Finding published sources to inform your decisions and back up your arguments is important in any academic study. The following link to study skills gives you some ideas about how to do this, particularly in an online learning environment.

Study skills for online learning

General advice on report writing

Some general advice about report writing and referencing written by members of the qualification team

Advice on report writing

I.T skills

Quite a lot of your study will be online and you will also have to submit assignments digitally, so it is important to have a reasonable level of I.T. skills. The following links could help you if you need to boost your skill or confidence in particular areas:

Computing skills for OU study

Study skills for online learning

Newspapers in a box

Go to Design Challenges 

Last modified: Friday, 31 January 2020, 2:55 PM