Photo of Tim Coughlan

Dr Tim Coughlan


I am a Lecturer in the Institute of Educational Technology at The Open University. My research crosses the areas of Education and Human-Computer Interaction. I’m particularly focused on the design and evaluation of systems that support inclusion, creativity, and openness in learning.

Current research projects include designing tools for the representation of challenges and achievements in study journeys (Our Journey), improving support in online and open education for disabled students (Ed-ICT, Time Better Spent, Open Learning and Accessibility), and teaching community-led design practices through online courses (Empowering Design Practices).

My passion is for user-centred and participatory research. However I also work on approaches to analyse the large quantitative data sets generated by learners at scale, and am interested in how we interpret and use these analytics through the participation of learners and staff in educational institutions.

I was previously a Horizon Digital Economy Research Fellow and Lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Nottingham. As part of Horizon I worked on a variety of projects funded by RCUK and AHRC. These included the design and evaluation of new technologies to support participation and informal learning in museum spaces, and studies to understand data sharing and assistive technologies in the home.

My current teaching covers the areas of networked practice, accessible online learning, and computing project courses. I support Open University teaching through roles as a Data Wrangler for the WELS faculty, and as an Open Media Associate and Accessibility Coordinator.

Dr Tim Coughlan is a Lecturer in Educational Technology at the Open University. His research crosses the areas of Education and Human-Computer Interaction. He is particularly focused on the design and evaluation of systems that support inclusion, creativity, and openness in learning.

Tim is a member of the Securing Greater Accessibility (SeGA) coordination group, an Accessibility Coordinator, and an Open Media Associate. The Open University has a mission to widen participation and success in education, and these roles involve working to create the most effective formal and informal learning opportunities that are accessible to the widest range of people.

He is also a Data Wrangler, working as part of a team to enhance the use of learning analytics at the OU. This involves working with WELS faculty and contributing to projects conducted and reported in the Scholarly Insight series.

Tim leads on the development of Our Journey. This is a set of openly licenced tools to support students to represent their experiences of study over time. Work to develop these tools further is currently funded by Jisc and LATIS.

He is a Co-Investigator on the AHRC-funded Empowering Design Practices project and a core member of the Leverhulme-funded international network:Disabled students, ICT, post compulsory education and employment: in search of new solutions.

He co-supervises four PhD students: Irina Rets, George Alain, Francisco Iniesto and Jo Buxton and two EdD students: Wendy Fowle and Karen Foley.

Other recent research projects explore the experiences of online and open learning for disabled students, the uses of open data as a material for learning, and collaborative authoring of open online courses to widen participation in higher education.

Tim was previously a HorizonResearch Fellow and Lecturer in the School of Computer Science at the University of Nottingham, where he was involved in a range of research projects including ArtMaps, Creativity Greenhouse,and Stories of User Appropriation.

Before that, Tim worked as a researcher at the Institute of Educational Technology at the OU, working on the Bridge to Success, Digital Scholarship and Out There and In Here projects.

Before that, he completed PhD research in Computer Science at the University of Bath. This studied how computers can be designed to support creative interaction.






  • Baron, Nick; Carletti, Laura; Muñoz Civantos, Angeles; Coughlan, Tim; Allen, Robert; Lach, Pamella; Davies, Catherine; Tyler-Jones, Richard and Ferran, Bronac. (). Spatial Humanities Moving Beyond the Dot on a Map. In: Proceedings of the Digital Research in the Humanities and Arts Conference, DRHA2014, 111-116.










Ed-ICT (Disabled Students, ICT, post compulsory education and employment: in search of new solutions) 2016 - 2019
Empowering Design Practices: historic places of worship as catalysts for connecting communities 2014 - 2019
Linked Journeys: Linking analytics to study journey representations to retrospectively understand patterns in students’ perceptions of their mental health 2019 - 2020
Project Logo Our Journey 2019 - 2020

Go the Distance

BBC | 1st November 2017



4th April 2019

Designing inclusive and engaging structures to facilitate creativity and learning

The Museum for All People: International Congress on Art, Accessibility and Social Inclusion Madrid, Spain

Conference Presentation

11th March 2019

Our Journey: Designing and utilising a tool to support students to represent their study journeys

INTED 2019: 13th annual International Technology, Education and Development Conference Valencia, Spain

Invited Talk

8th November 2018

Facilitating training and evaluation around assistive technologies

MediLink Showcase: Assistive Technologies

Conference Presentation

6th November 2018

Conference Presentation

23rd April 2018

Conference Presentation

19th April 2016