Agency - Insight/Foresight
A deep and enriching education in any genre of technology recognises the core role that knowledge, creative drive, and practical skills play in technological problem solving. The learner (as the agent of design) also brings to the process organisation, values and communication capability to achieve project outcomes that work in context.
Agency is symbolised by an EYE, to remind us that learning and creating technologies for various applications and contexts demands insight, as well as foresight and directed capabilities. Agency, also demands a greater capacity for empathy for how solutions occur in a social and ecological context.
A responsible education in Design and Technology includes not only reflexive and reflective learning, but increasingly so, deliberative learning where longer term and wider feedback systems and concerns are factored into designs.
Materials - Tree/Binary Code
Common to all technological knowledge is the ability to understand the properties and sustainability of the material resources we grow, shape, consume, and transform. A developed knowledge of materials facilitates good choices in design. Such knowledge helps guide what tools or fixture/assembly methods are required to assure an applied idea works in its intended context.
The Tree-with-Binary-code icon, reminds us that at some stage all our consumed materials and ingredients come from our planet's finite reserves. As with physical materials, knowing the properties of 'digital materials' (such as bitmap versus text versus vector or movie files) requires we use the most appropriate and available digital tools for manipulating their file type. The study of technology, is inherently a study of how we treat the use of our natural capital.
Physical and digital Materials present both a key resource as well as constraint to the success of a project.
Technacy Genre/Technology Type
All types or 'forms' of technological knowledge include a logical combination of materials, tools, and agency. We refer to these aspects of technologies as the minimum elements of their form. When these 'elements' are combined (with one class of material involved) and applied to a specific purpose and context, a technacy genre may be identified.
To understand that the success of technologies requires them to be evaluated against their purpose and context parameters, is to understand technologies holistically.
An holistic and effective education in technology demonstrates a coherent study and application of technacy genres and their system of elements.
We propose learners validate their technological knowledge through a process of "best fit contestation" against the identified purpose and context parameters.
Purpose and Context Parameters
A competent education in technology and design, thoroughly examines and declares the boundary of a project's scope. Credible Design and Technology projects experiment with/or model ideas to discover and simulate potential solutions that 'should' work in the intended context. It places due weight on determining contextual risk and key indicators or drivers that need to be accommodated for a technology development to claim success or undertake an appropriate evaluation. The context factors and scale of application presents both a key resource as well as constraint to the success of a project.
Tool Systems - Digital/Technical Devices
All technological knowledge includes the ability to understand the design features, properties, systems, and performance limits of simple, powered, digital, and complex tools, instruments, machinery, functions, and devices.
A knowledge of 'Tools' facilititates good choices in design, and helps guide what system of tools and their safe use would best serve the project to assure it works in the intended context of its application. The Mouse Pointer and Cogs icon, reminds us that tools, at least initially, are designed to help transform, hold in place or measure specific kinds of materials. These tools may be for digital as well as physical materials. They may be as simple as our hands and teeth, or as seamless extensions of our capability such as manual and powered instruments and equipment.
Tool Systems such as hammers, cutting tools and machines, or in code, data transforming functions, help us shape, alter or reconfigure the materials we use in our natural, processed and digital environments. In addition to tools designed to extend our innate human capabilities, there are special subgroups of tools we use to assist us when working technologically.
a) Assistive Devices are 'tools' we create that do not shape or transform materials or code, but serve to frame, hold, displace (move), store or affix and combine and join the materials or data being transformed. Examples include clamps, glues, screws, nails, and jigs, as well as loops in the case of code or memory storage and recall instructions.
b) Communication Instruments do not transform data or materials, but are designed to enhance our feedback communication and information flow in the process of transforming materials or data. These may include measuring ‘tools’ (such as rules, gauges, and calipers), sharing ‘tools’ (such as photos, and emails), and enhanced sensory instruments (such as sensory-probes or meters, microscopes, and telescopes) or in code, such as counters and display or print instructions.
In all cases Tool Systems and their special subgroups of tools present both a key resource, as well as a constraint to the success of a project.