Alesha's cover image
Alesha

Alesha Bleakley

Year of Award: 2014 Award State: New South Wales Education > Secondary
Education > Specialised Education
The Northern Districts Education Centre (Sydney) Churchill Fellowship to study the dichotomy in technology education of the future, the role of hand skills and the role of CAD/CAM technology in the production of designed solutions - USA, UK, Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Finland
Download

The aim of Technology Education (TE) in Australia is to ensure that all students learn about and work with traditional, contemporary and emerging technologies in order to solve real world problems (Australian Curiculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2013). Globalisation and the rapid pace of technological change are placing greater demands on education and skill development in Australia. As Technology educators, it is the belief of the researcher that it is incumbent to ensure curriculum and skills and knowledge that are being taught prepare students not only for employment in this world, but also the world of the future.

The objective was to look at the dichotomy in Technology Education of the future, the role of hand skills vs the role of CAD/CAM technology in the production of designed solutions.

The program included England, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Finland and the United States of America. Throughout the course of the study, schools, universities and the manufacturing industry were visited to evaluate how other countries and states are implementing measures to bridge the divide between traditional technologies also being taught here in Australia, and new technologies of the computer aided design and manufacturing skills, from this point forward referred to as advanced manufacturing, that could also be referred to as 'industry standard'.

As this opportunity led to meeting pre-eminent technology educators from around the world, the experience gained from the Fellowship study proved far broader than the initial research objective. Through relevant visits, exposure was gained to Technology Education curricula in the chosen countries, to understand what the delivery of Technology Education looks like in these countries, to understand curriculum development processes, gain insight into TE teacher training, the roles and responsibilities of professional associations, and gain some insights into the manufacturing industry.

Given the principles it encapsulates, Technology Education is a subject of great worth. However, it could be said that, worldwide there is a lack of understanding about what ‘Technology Education’ means among the broader population. Anecdotally some teachers who teach the subject also battle with the simple underpinnings of WHAT Technology Education is.

Technology Education is often confused with educational technology and technical education in today’s society. It is commonly misunderstood. It is critical at this point to define the difference. Educational technology is where technology is used to aide in the teaching and learning process. The use of computing applications that students interact with to assist in the teaching of a concept would be an example of this. Technical education on the other hand is the term applied to specialist schools and educational programs that focus on the skilled trades and career preparation. This is often also referred to as Vocational Education (Abbott, 2014). The role of Technology Education is not to prepare people for specific occupations. This is the role of Vocational Education. TE is a general education subject area that provides different life long learning opportunities for children.

There are many arguments outlining the lack of identity of Technology Education around the world. One perspective is attributed to the history of the name of Technology Education. Uno Cygnaeus, often referred to as the ‘Father of the Finnish Folk School” was responsible for developing Sloyd, a craft based curriculum, in Finland in 1865 (William E. Dugger, 2010). It was the first of its kind. Sloyd was promoted worldwide and was taught in the United States until the early 20th Century. Gradually Manual Training and then Manual Arts grew as the early years of what is now Vocational Training. Industrial Arts then emerged during the Industrial Arts movement based on the research by Dewey of learning by doing. In 1986 The

International Technology Educators Association, ITEA (now ITEEA) declared a name change to Technology Education (Zuga, 1995).

Some also attribute the lack of identity to the confusion exhibited by the practitioners of the subject (Zuga, 1995). There is a common misconception among the broader population and sometimes even the in- service teachers who have a ‘narrow technological identity’ (Mengersen & Barlow, 2014) potentially leading the public to assign an unintended meaning to the Technology Education subject area.

Technology, as defined by the International Technology Education Association (2007) is “The innovation, change, or modification of the natural environment to satisfy perceived human needs and wants”. Technology Education as a field of study, is where students learn about the process and knowledge related to technology that are needed to solve problems and extend human capability through the manipulation of materials, tools and techniques (International Technology Education Association, 2007). In addition to that many countries around the world have a Design and Technology curriculum. The aim of Design and Technology is to “develop students’ confidence, competence and responsibility in designing, producing and evaluating to meet both needs and opportunities, and to understand the factors that contribute to successful design and production” (Board of Studies, 2009). Design and Technology Education and Technology & Engineering Education are commonly seen as a parallel field to Technology Education in countries around the world such as England (Sanders, 2012).

In Australia education is the responsibility of the individual states and territories. In NSW Technology Education is mandatory from Kindergarten through to the conclusion of year 8. In addition to the mandatory course there are also elective courses in Industrial Technologies, Design and Technology, Textiles, Computing, Agriculture, Marine, Food, and Engineering. This is unique to NSW. The year 2000 marked the year of a national statement following that the development of the current Australian Technologies curriculum began in 2010. The curriculum is currently in the final stages of endorsement by ministers  of  education.

The Draft Australian Curriculum: Technologies (2013) aims to;

  • Develop the knowledge, understanding and skills to ensure that, individually and collaboratively, students:
  • Are creative, innovative and enterprising when using traditional, contemporary and emerging technologies, and understand how technologies have developed over time
  • effectively and responsibly select and manipulate appropriate technologies, resources, materials, data, systems, tools and equipment when designing and creating products, services, environments and digital solutions
  • Critique and evaluate technologies processes to identify and create solutions to a range of problems or opportunities
  • Investigate, design, plan, manage, create, produce and evaluate technologies solutions

Engage confidently with technologies and make informed, ethical and sustainable decisions about technologies for preferred futures including personal health and wellbeing, recreation, everyday life, the world of work and enterprise, and the environment (Australian Curiculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2013).

The world needs people with the ability to think critically, be creative, create innovative design solutions and be willing to take risks (ACARA, 2013, Wagner, 2012). The Draft Australian Curriculum: Technologies emphasises this, as do the state and territory curricula currently implemented in Australia. Wagner suggests that all students should be aiming to be ‘innovation ready’, rather than ‘college ready’ to prepare them for a rapidly changing world. In Australia, Technology Education is a fundamental curriculum for all students, regardless of learning levels, career choices, or life aspirations. “Tomorrow belongs to those who effectively and creatively interact with technology today and dream of its possibilities for tomorrow” (The Technology Education Lab, 2013).

Given the changing nature of the world around us to a more technologically diverse environment it is only natural that the materials, tools and techniques that were once the main focus of Technology Education have changed. The manufacturing industry along with engineering, medicine and many more areas of human endeavor are now utilising more advanced forms of manufacturing and control technologies to solve the changing needs of today’s society. As a result Technology Education is focusing more on computer aided design and computer aided manufacturing (advanced manufacturing) as the tools to produce solutions to ‘real world problems’. In the recent years technologies such as additive and subtractive manufacturing along with laser cutters and 3D scanners have started to become the ‘norm’ in the Technology Education classroom. This change often leads to people asking if there is a place for hand skills and traditional technologies in the classroom creating a dichotomy in Technology Education for the future.

The Churchill Fellowship empowered the researcher with a wealth of knowledge and experiences, which have given a holistic understanding of Technology Education, and are sufficient grounding for future research and work in this area. The ultimate goal is to have a positive impact on the future of Technology Education in Australia.

Related fellows
Stephen Bentley, Stephen
Education > Secondary
2014
Valerie Furphy , Valerie
Education > Secondary
2014
Kirill Monorosi, Kirill
Education > Specialised Education
2014
Michael Morgan, Michael
Education > Secondary
2014
David PATTERSON, David
Education > Secondary
Education > Specialised Education
2002
Ian Balcomb, Ian
Education > Secondary
2013
Jacqueline Barfoot, Jacqueline
Education > Specialised Education
2013
Tanya Beech, Tanya
Education > Specialised Education
2013
Neil Bramsen, Neil
Education > Secondary
2013
Andrew Butt, Andrew
Education > Specialised Education
2013