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Makers, Hackers and Fabbers: what is the future for D&T?

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posted on 29.07.2008, 10:14 by Torben Steeg
Abstract UK D&T curricula are largely predicated on developing in pupils designing and making skills and knowledge that are derived from industrial design (and, to some extent, engineering) practice; particular importance is given to the ideas of such things as designing for clients, a wide range of design communication skills and, particularly by GCSE (14-16 years), industrial practices such as designing for volume production, market awareness and protecting design ideas (through, for example, patents). This paper examines the extent to which this 20th century model for D&T might be tested by changes in technology and social organisation that are already evident (often in nascent form) in the first years of the 21st century. Since these changes are likely to be subject to rapid acceleration in the next few decades, they are also likely to significantly challenge ideas of what a product is and how and by whom it might be created – and even owned. Keirl (2007) has argued that there are five perspectives which should be used to examine the design of a D&T curriculum: The Global (how the curriculum relates to what is happening in the world), The would-be stakeholders (who the curriculum is serving), Society (the contribution of the curriculum to education for democracy), Students as fulfilled persons (what the curriculum does for pupils) and Curriculum dynamics (how our bit of the curriculum relates to the whole). Keirl’s perspectives are used to examine how approaching technological, legal and societal developments might not only be accommodated in a 21st century curriculum but also celebrated as a route to creating an ‘ethically defensible’ (ibid) curriculum that will allow D&T (or its immediate successor) to contribute meaningfully to a broad education for a technological literacy that supports education for democracy. Particular attention is given in the paper to the development of personal fabrication technologies, to the emerging use of web 2.0 technologies to support personal fabrication, to the growing international maker movement, to the contributions of the hacker community, to the emergence of low cost embedded control technologies and the ‘internet of things’ and to the open-source and creative commons movements.



  • Design

Research Unit

  • D&T Association Conference Series


STEEG, T., 2008. Makers, Hackers and Fabbers: what is the future for D&T? IN: Norman, E.W.L. and Spendlove, D. (eds.). The Design and Technology Association International Research Conference, [Loughborough University, 2-4 July]. Wellesbourne : The Design and Technology Association, pp. 65-73


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