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The Open University

Digital thinking tools for better decision making

The Open University via OpenLearn


Ever since the very beginning of humanity, tools have played a pivotal role in who we are and what we do. Tools for recording, processing and communicating information have a time-honoured history – from the clay tokens used in Mesopotamia to mechanical calculating machines. The invention of the digital computer has boosted the scale, speed and reach with which thinking tools extend our natural capabilities. This free course Digital thinking tools for better decision making starts by placing thinking tools in their historical context and concludes with an examination of their future. During the course, you’re introduced to a wide variety of digital thinking tools. You will apply these tools in many practical activities and case studies, solving problems that involve finding and evaluating information, performing calculations and drawing reasoned conclusions.TranscriptThe course will appeal to anyone who uses information to answer questions, solve problems or make decisions, whether it is in their personal or professional life, or as part of their studies. It will introduce a range of digital thinking tools that can help with finding and analysing information, and reasoning with that information. You will, among other things, learn how to become a ‘super-Googler’, use your computer as a big calculator and make digital argument maps that shed light on the reasoning behind your own writing and that of others.Enrolling on the course will give you the opportunity to earn an Open University digital badge. Badges are not accredited by The Open University but they're a great way to demonstrate your interest in the subject and commitment to your career and to provide evidence of continuing professional development.Once you are signed in, you can manage your digital badges online from My OpenLearn. In addition, you can download and print your OpenLearn statement of participation – which also displays your Open University badge.The Open University would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to tell us about yourself and your expectations for the course before you begin, in our optional start-of-course survey. Once you complete the course we would also value your feedback and suggestions for future improvement, in our optional end-of-course survey. Participation will be completely confidential and we will not pass on your details to others. This OpenLearn science course was produced with the kind support of Dangoor Education, the educational arm of The Exilarch's Foundation. The final session of this course, Session 8: From thinking tools to AI, is endorsed by the Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour (AISB) as part of its mission to support the public understanding of AI. This course was supported by the Institute of Coding which received funding from the Office for Students (OfS), as well as support from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW). The course has been endorsed by the Institute of Coding (IoC). This means that the course entitles you to an Institute of Coding badge. To claim this badge, you first need to complete the course and earn the Open University digital badge that is issued on course completion. Once you’ve earned this Open University digital badge, you can then claim your Institute of Coding badge on the ‘Claim a Badge’ page. This course is accredited by the CPD Standards Office. It can be used to provide evidence of continuing professional development and on successful completion of the course you will be awarded 24 CPD points. Evidence of your CPD achievement is provided on the free Statement of Participation awarded on completion.Anyone wishing to provide evidence of their enrolment on this course is able to do so by sharing their Activity Record on their OpenLearn Profile, which is available before completion of the course and earning of the Statement of Participation. Please tell us more about your Continuous Professional Development (CPD) and personal skill development!We would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to complete this survey and tell us about yourself and your experiences of CPD and lifelong learning.The Open University is working in collaboration with the CPD Standards Office in a national study to understand more about individual professionals' experiences, perceptions and practice for adult skill development. Find out more here in this high profile research, you will be contributing toscientific knowledge about adult skill development and how we can developsuccessful future careers. Participation is confidential, voluntary and we willnot pass on your details to others.


  • Session 1: The rise of digital thinking tools
  • Session 2: Getting to grips with information
  • Session 3: The big calculator
  • Session 4: Reasoning with argument maps
  • Session 5: Reasoning with sets
  • Session 6: Digital argument mapping
  • Session 7: Argument mapping in action
  • Session 8: From thinking tools to AI


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