Open University: free learning on Systems Thinking

Via OpenLearn, The Open University provides thousands of hours of quality, free, multimedia learning resources. These include some which you may find helpful in understanding what we mean by Systems Thinking as a broad orientation to analysing the natural and designed world.

The other resources on this site then build the bridge to thinking specifically about learning, sensemaking and leadership as complex systems, and the role of ICT in both mediating, and analysing, such systems.

Simple introduction to emergence and systems thinking

Systems thinking enables you to grasp and manage situations of complexity and uncertainty in which there are no simple answers. It’s a way of ‘learning your way towards effective action’ by looking at connected wholes rather than separate parts. It’s sometimes called practical holism. “Systems thinking is the key literacy that we need for the future.”

Systems thinking and practice

  • (8 hours of structured course material in a virtual learning environment)”After studying this unit you should be able to:
    • develop confidence in using systems concepts and language;
    • describe accurately the set of key systems concepts;
    • understand what is distinctive about systems thinking as opposed to other forms of thinking;
    • understand how systems thinking is useful in analysing and improving situations;
    • understand the notion of a system as a creation of the observer, i.e. as an intellectual construct, as opposed to using the term system in other ways, i.e. as entities that exist ‘out there’;
    • identify and represent systems of interest (that are not ‘out there’).”