Planning for practice
Planning is the up-front and on-going thinking that enables a fit-for-purpose outcome to be developed. It is an essential part of all technological practice.
Planning should consider:
- the physical and sociocultural environment of an outcome
- the context the technologist will be working in.
Effective planning enables technologists to systematically account for all the factors that influence the successful fulfillment of a brief. It also supports reflection and decision making.
Digital media teacher Rozeanne Donald shares her thoughts on some of the key aspects of planning for practice.
When students come to the end of a project invariably they say to me that the thing they’ve learnt most is to be more organised. And they often comment that they have used their planning in other areas of their lives. And to me that kind of transfer of knowledge and skills is the holy grail of teaching, and I am always impressed with their insight, that they can see that, and also really heartened that they are actually transferring what they have learnt in the classroom because that is so important. It’s what we are all after.
Planning is an important skill because it’s a life skill. It’s important in student’s personal lives and professional lives. I can’t think of a single career for students where planning won’t be an essential skill, and I think it’s incredibly important for students to be able to look at how they use the resources they have available to them and plan ahead for the future.
Technology is a subject that explicitly, directly teaches planning and celebrates it as an important skill in its curriculum area, and that’s something that’s great for students because then they can use it to transfer to other subject areas.
It’s about looking ahead and identifying needs and anticipating problems, and making sure that you’ve got the resources available to you at the time you need them. And often those resources are scarce and other people’s time is scarce so you need to anticipate your needs ahead of time. Otherwise, you find yourself scrambling to address problems because you didn’t think of them in the first place.
Planning is not a daily diary of what happened. I’ve seen a lot of planning that is, or so-called planning, that is a record of what went wrong and what happened and what I did on that day. And I don’t think that that actually is effective planning. It’s actually, can be, a waste of time, and I think the time is better spent looking forward and anticipating needs and what’s happening in the future.
The year I didn’t assess planning was probably the worst year for students under pressure and being upset about that. I think that we’d like to think that student’s value learning for learning’s sake, but the reality is they, like us, they prioritise what they are going to be held accountable for. And so assessment means that you sharply focus their attention on planning and that means they address it and they are not scrambling at the end because they hadn’t planned ahead.
Students will plan best when they use tools that are freely available to them. The tool that they use the most in their everyday life, maybe their phone or their laptop or whatever they have with them, even if it’s just a favourite notebook, rather than imposing the tool that we think they should plan with. Students might use their phone to do something like record a meeting that they have with you as the teacher so that they can really listen to the feedback and then take notes later and go through and get more and more out of that meeting rather than just the few points they remembered at the time. Or they might just simply use their calendar to set themselves reminders or make appointments with stakeholders or set deadlines.
Teachers can often use students’ planning to remind a student how precious their class time is, to give them a quick sort of tap on the shoulder and say, “Hey, you know, you’re wasting this lesson and you’ve got this, this, and this to do in your planning. Maybe you should get on with this one.” And that’s a really useful tool to have sometimes in the classroom.
And sometimes it’s also good to know if you can read through a student’s planning when they’ll be under pressure and when they’ll need you the most to help them. And it’s also really good to be able to identify when students can work as a pair or as a team and share some resources when you can see that they will both be working on the same thing, using the same resources at the same time.
Acknowledgment: This paper is derived from an earlier version by Dr Vicki Compton and Cliff Harwood.