"Ground control to moonbase" : communications technology in primary D&T

2007-06-07T08:46:56Z (GMT) by Daniel Davies Steve Heal
This paper reports on a case study of a four-year project undertaken by a Wiltshire primary school, with the aims of enhancing pupils’ use of information and communications technology (ICT) in their learning of design and technology, whilst increasing their confidence in speaking and listening. The work was supported by a grant of £36K from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) and took as its theme the topic of communication in space. Observations of pupils designing and prototyping geodesic structures in preparation for the moonbase construction have exemplified what Siraj Blatchford (1996) described as a ‘design collective’, in which children draw on earlier experiences and learned skills to design and make with autonomy alongside their peers. The school design and technology co-ordinator was observed to put in place elements of what Harrington (1990) described as a ‘creative ecosystem’, fostering a social or distributed creativity within the school by, for example, involving pupils in collaboratively prioritising design criteria. Observations of pupils working within the moonbase environment and its linked classroom interface have demonstrated methodical yet creative approaches to problem-solving, and a relatively high degree of autonomy, providing evidence of what Loveless (2003) refers to as the “conjectural paradigm” for learning experiences mediated by control technology.