Creative and critical thinking are crucial skills for learning and teaching in the 21st century.* But how can you tap into creative thinking in subjects where it may be less obvious? And how can you embed creative thinking in learning design?

Did you know that metaphor has been used to structure thinking and arguments in science and mathematics, and in many different disciplines? In a new UTS Open taster course called Design and Metaphor, Dr Thomas Lee guides learners through metaphors across the disciplines. Tom also explains how our senses and familiar everyday objects can spark new ideas and function as orienting forces for designers, whether in software-based interaction design or data visualisation. Learners get the chance to practice making abstract concepts more meaningful with metaphor.

Learning design in action

The challenge in this self-paced short taster was to give learners opportunities to try out their metaphors and get meaningful feedback. As you can see, the first iteration was creative! But it also highlighted the overarching goal: to guide learners through a journey that would be social and change their perspective. It should also give prospective students of the Master of Design a taste of learning at UTS.


First brainstorm of the learning design of 'Design and Metaphor'


The teaching and learning sequence follows an online problem-based learning approach to help learners construct knowledge and skill for their own context. Basically, tasks are represented in different ways, then learners practice and share their work.

If you want to have a closer look, you can register for free for Design and Metaphor on UTS Open. It might spark your own teaching creativity! (UTS Staff – use your staff email to register and create a password.)


*But don’t just believe me. Check out: Adams Becker, S., Brown, M., Dahlstrom, E., Davis, A., DePaul, K., Diaz, V., & Pomerantz, J. (2018). NMC Horizon Report: 2018 Higher Education Edition. Louisville, CO: EDUCAUSE.


The photo is student work from UTS Master of Design: ‘Keystone’ by Matthew Harrington, Jake Harris, Miranda Huang, Madeline Hui, Marcella Handoko Kwee

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