Technology education involves the process of designing and then making what has been designed. Through this process students develop a greater appreciation of the significant decision-making involved and develop critical thinking skills.
The design process – what is a quality task?
- It allows the teaching of programmed syllabus outcomes and content.
- It is sufficiently open-ended to allow curriculum differentiation to meet the needs of a variety of learners.
- It provides an opportunity to collect evidence of significant student learning – for assessment and reporting purposes.
- It is manageable and sufficiently focused to allow student depth of understanding and success.
- It is real or authentic – providing clear benefits to someone in their community.
- It is engaging – building on areas of interest or relevance in their lives.
- It enables deep understanding and skill development – extending existing student knowledge or allows substantial time to develop knowledge.
- It allows the student to gain feedback from the user to inform design development.
- It requires students to use an authentic process of design and production that is relevant and used beyond the classroom.
The design process – developing a quality task
Step 1 – know what you are required to teach
- What specific content and outcomes do students need to learn?
- What will be evidence of significant learning?
Step 2 – know the design project limitations
- What is the total time available?
- Do you have a budget?
- Are materials and other resources available?
- What equipment and facilities do you have available?
Step 3 – look for an authentic need
An authentic need or opportunity is meaningful to the student and has:
- a real benefit, purpose and use
- a real user who can provide feedback on design ideas and developments
- real limitations such as time, money, materials, equipment
- a real context influenced by specific social, ethical and environmental issues.
Questions to consider
- Is there someone in the community, such as a local preschool or childcare centre, who may have a product need?
- Is there a local event or similar opportunity arising in the community to develop a product?
- Is there an abundance of resources, for example, seasonal food or leftover materials, available to be used?
- Is there local expertise, such as an architect, textile artist or craftsperson who is keen to help?
Step 4 – plan with students
- Introduce the design project to your students. Explain the non-negotiable aspects of the project and the negotiable aspects.
- Specify the learning and assessment expectations and additional aspects such as:
- time, money, materials and facilities available
- expertise and community support available
- need or opportunity
- the user.
- Negotiate with students any flexible aspects of the design project.
- Decide on an appropriate design task with the students.
At this point students are ready to start their design project.
The design process – evaluating
Planning, managing and evaluating are essential for each of the above steps. Students must review actions, milestones, time and financial plans. Ongoing evaluation, related to the criteria of success, informs the students’ decision-making at each step.
At the conclusion of the project students reflect and learn about the processes used and outcomes.
Common technological language
Throughout Kindergarten to Year 12 students are encouraged to use consistent language when describing the technology process. Students:
- explore and define the task
- generate and develop ideas
- produce solutions.
Explore and define
Students consider the user, the client, the available resources and social, ethical and environmental issues. They establish the criteria for a successful design solution, set milestones and define the constraints for the project in a statement or brief.
Generate and develop ideas
Students explore options, consider existing solutions, generate alternatives, represent and refine ideas and develop options. They identify, explore and select resources such as techniques, materials and equipment that will best achieve the solution, taking into account the short-term and long-term impacts of their decisions and actions.
Students produce final design representations such as:
- production drawings or storyboards
- sequencing the step-by-step actions for production
- managing safety risks
- practising and refining techniques.
They produce the solution and reflect on its success, the process and the learning.