Ever wondered why problems seem more difficult to solve than ever? (Despite the fact that we can connect to experts and knowledge all around the world with our phones – something that seemed like science fiction not so long ago.)

Designing out problems is a new UTS Open taster course, and offers another way of seeing and reframing today’s complex challenges. Senior Lecturer Lindsay Asquith brings her design expertise to solving complex social problems such as designing out crime. Design practitioners guide learners through a design-based methodology called frame creation.

What’s a taster course?

Designing out problems is a ‘taste’ of a subject called Problem Framing, from the Graduate Certificate in Public Sector Innovation. The Designing Innovation Research Centre (DIRC) team worked with postgraduate.futures to design and develop the Graduate Certificate course on Canvas. The result is an engaging course that combines the best of face to face studio and online learning with high-quality digital design, video and interaction.

Such high quality teaching and learning needs to be shared! So the postgraduate.futures learning design team helped to extract and re-jig three modules from Problem Framing. This taste of Problem Framing now sits on the public UTS Open platform so that prospective learners can experience what it’s like to study at UTS.

Learning design in action

Much of the taster course is based on ‘doing.’ The ‘doing’ is also designed to create a lasting impression so learning is enjoyable and memorable.

Have a look at the example below which shows a simple teaching and learning sequence.

Step 1: Learners reflect on their own situation and approaches to problem-solving before the activity.

Step 2: Learners think about potential barriers and enablers before clicking to compare their response to an expert answer. (See Figure 1 below.)


In this interactive from 'Designing out problems', learners click to reveal more information about barriers and enablers in solving problems.

Figure 1: An interactive example from taster course ‘Designing out problems’

Step 3: Learners use a scaffold to enter their own barriers and enablers, as below.

  • Learners save their answers as an image.
  • Then learners can save an image to their design portfolio.


interactive Barriers and enablers template that can be saved as an image.

Figure 2: An interactive template from taster course ‘Designing out problems’


Step 4: All activities have alternative, accessible formats. This follows Universal Design Learning (UDL) principles where content and activities are represented in multiple ways. See cast.org.

For more info about the guiding principles of this teaching and learning sequence, see Velestianos, G. 2011. Designing opportunities for transformation with emerging technologies. Educational Technology. 51(2), 41-46., and Kolb, D. A. 2014. Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development.

Want to find out more?

Register for the taster course on UTS Open? (Use your UTS staff email but you’ll need to register and set up a new password.)

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