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Teaching Technology for Tomorrow: What Concepts in What Contexts?

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1 Teaching Technology for Tomorrow: What Concepts in What Contexts?
Marc J. de Vries Delft University of Technology The Netherlands

2 Presenting about technology education in Greece

3 Outline of my presentation
Teaching technology is more than teaching some (manual) skills That is true both for technology education as part of general education and as vocational education The ‘more’ is: knowledge (concepts) But: does technology has a ‘body of knowledge’ of its own? Yes: there are concepts How to teach: in contexts Need for educational research to find out what works and how

4 Aims of technology education (general and vocational)
Skills Manual skills important in vocational education, but also in general education Thinking skills: theoretical reasoning (cause-effect) and practical reasoning (means-ends) Knowledge General image of what technology/engineering is Concepts and principles Important in general education, but also in vocational education Attitudes Positive, but not uncritical Important both in general and vocational education

5 Is technology a discipline?
Old philosophy: it is the application of existing knowledge in natural science Somewhat newer: it is the application of a wider range of knowledge, not only from natural sciences, but also from other sciences (human, social, cultural) Most recent: it is a domain in which both use of existing knowledge and generation of new knowledge takes place ‘learning by designing’

6 Properties of knowledge in engineering/technology
Part of its knowledge is fundamentally different from knowledge in natural science Normativity in functional knowledge and knowledge of standards/norms Content of knowledge is outcome of (collective) decisions, not of given data Non-propositionality of knowing-how, drawings, object knowledge Context-dependentness and limited generalizability But: what is the disciplinary/conceptual basis? This was the topic of a recent Delphi study Concepts and contexts


8 Identifying the body of knowledge for technology education: (1)
International development of technology education Transition from a craft-oriented subject to a broader learning area Closer relationships with math, science and engineering Both developments need a sound conceptual basis for this type of education Calling in help from outside Philosophy of technology Design methodology History and sociology of technology Engineering

9 Identifying the body of knowledge for technology education: (1)
Efforts to develop a conceptual framework UK: many design-dominated flowcharts (but where is the engineering content?) France: industry-dominated flowcharts (limited view of technology) Germany: systems-dominated schemes (but where is the process of technology?) Netherlands, New Zealand and other countries: integration of approaches (often without explicit set of core concepts) Many countries still: lack of coherence USA: Standards for Technological Literacy (very extensive, but without ‘nucleus of essentials’) Earlier effort in engineering education: The Man-Made World (Engineering Concepts Curriculum Project, Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, NY: only a temporary success; too far ahead of its time?)

10 Importance of contexts
Believed earlier on, but rejected now: teach general concepts and learners will be able to apply in any context Believed later, but doubted now: learn in one context, generalize and transfer to other contexts Recent suggestion: learn in variety of contexts and gradually general concept emerges and can be applied to new contexts Debate: what is a ‘context’?

11 Resulting Contexts

12 Resulting Concepts


14 Dual Nature of Technical Artifacts
Physical nature Non-intentional properties Functional nature Intentional properties

15 The concept of function
Proper functions What the designer had in mind Accidental function What the user has in mind

16 Need for educational research
How to connect concepts and contexts How to set up activities that enable concept learning Identifying good practices and generalizing those

17 Example of educational research in teacher education
Context: Science Education and Communication program Delft University of Technology (teacher education track) Researcher: Umit Koycu (secondary school teacher and Ph.D. student at Delft) Theme: High School Engineering Phase 1: identifying what high school pupils think of engineering Concept maps Attitude questionnaire Phase 2: using basic concepts from Delphi study, developing and using context-based course material and investigating the effect Change in concept of engineering and attitude towards it Learning of engineering concepts Phase 3: elaborate consequences for educating teachers



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