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Ministry of Education.
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Accepted conventions

The principles, techniques, and/or procedures established by a "community of practice". For example, in Construction and Mechanical Technologies accepted conventions relate to such things as flush, parallel, perpendicular, offset, symmetry, array, tolerance, ease, press fit, clearances, eccentricity, and taper.


A set of principles concerned with the nature and appreciation of beauty; the branch of philosophy that deals with questions of beauty and artistic taste. Aesthetics are subjective and are often concerned with visual appeal.


A precise, step-by-step plan for a computational procedure that begins with an input value and yields an output value in a finite number of steps.

Anthropometric data

Statistical measurements of the human body. These play an important role in industrial design, clothing design, ergonomics, and architecture. Changes in lifestyles, nutrition, and ethnic composition of populations lead to changes in the distribution of body dimensions and require regular updating of anthropometric data collections.


A data structure that contains a group of elements (values or variables), typically all the same data type, for example, integers. Arrays are commonly used in computer programs to organise a related set of values so that it can be easily sorted or searched.


The functional and physical nature of a technological outcome.

•    Functional attribute: What an outcome, or part of an outcome, does – for example, "provides grip", "stores water", "joins surfaces".
•    Physical attribute: A spatial or sensory aspect of a technological outcome. Physical attributes describe how the outcome looks and feels – for example, "hard", "salty", "spherical", "loud", "luminous", "big".

Attributes differ from specifications in that specifications define the physical and functional nature of the technological outcome in a measurable way. For example, an attribute may refer to the outcome being small enough to be comfortably held, whereas the specification would give the precise measurement in terms of length, width and depth.

Attributes and Specifications

Attributes are descriptive aspects of the physical and functional nature of a technological outcome. Specifications define the requirements of the physical and functional nature of the outcome in a way that is measurable.

For example, an attribute may refer to the outcome being small enough to be comfortably held, whereas the specification would give the precise measurement in terms of length, width and depth.

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Black box

A device, system, or object that can be viewed solely in terms of its input, output and transfer characteristics without any knowledge of its internal workings. The concept of a black box is important in describing technological systems. But while it has many advantages (the reduced need to understand all aspects of the system, the ability to replace faulty subsystem without disrupting the entire system etc), it also has disadvantages (understanding of the entire system can be incomplete, troubleshooting can be difficult etc).

Block-based programming

An interface for program building that allows users to drag and drop blocks representing programming commands. This alternative to text-based programming is a way of teaching children how to program using blocks of instructions with a focus on the logic of programming rather than details of syntax.


A description of a desired outcome that would meet a need or realise an opportunity:

Initial brief: A conceptual statement developed at the beginning of a project that communicates what is to be done and why, and a set of potential attributes/specifications that define the expected requirements of the outcome in terms of its physical and functional nature.
Final brief: A final brief results from the dynamic process (technological practice) of developing, testing, and trialling ideas by undertaking ongoing research, functional modelling, resource exploration, and key and wider community stakeholder consultation. The final brief (which includes a developed conceptual statement and specifications) is based on a reflection of the initial brief and any further amendments to it and serves as an evaluation tool against which the final outcome, and the practice undertaken to develop it, is judged.

See also: Brief Development

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CamelCase convention

A way of naming in which a compound word uses an initial capital letter for each of its word parts. In some systems, the first letter of the compound word is capitalised, for example, "CamelCase"; in others, it is in lower case, for example, "camelCase". The convention was adopted in the 1970s and 1980s as a standard for multi-word identifiers in a number of programming languages.

Commenting code

Adding comments to explain how the code in a program works or what it does.

Commenting out

Disabling a block of source code by changing it into a comment. This technique is used for debugging or for testing the functionality of alternative versions of code.

Communicative Model

A communicative model is a physical or virtual representation of a technological outcome, the purpose of which is to communicate the physical and/or functional attributes of a design concept. Communicative models do not seek to test the potential fitness for purpose of a design concept.

Competing priorities (in technological practice)

Potentially conflicting outcomes within technological practice that require identification and a judgment on relative value in order to decide on an appropriate course of action.
Competing priorities might include such things as:

  • conflicting stakeholder viewpoints
  • expedient practices versus ethically acceptable practices 
  • the use of renewable versus non-renewable resources 
  • budget constraints versus the use of ideal materials 
  • the use of resources of cultural significance in traditional versus contemporary contexts.

Complex (as used in NCEA standards)

In senior Technology programmes, the term "complex" is used to identify curriculum level 8 (NCEA Level 3) specialist knowledge and skills. Further explanation can be found in the explanatory notes of the subject specific standards. The progression is from "basic" (curriculum level 6) to "advanced" (curriculum level 7) through to "complex" (curriculum level 8).

Complex systems

Systems that combine more than one system and/or include one or more subsystems.

Using a black box approach offers an opportunity for complex systems to be explored and understood in a holistic, rather than a detailed, sense. This allows system maintenance through replacement of isolated parts to be done, with little or no disruption to the rest of the system.

A full explanation of the key ideas in technological systems can be found here – it is strongly recommended teachers read this.

Component (in Technology in the NZC)

The three strands of Technology in the NZC (Technological Practice, Technological Knowledge, and Nature of Technology) – together with the six specialist knowledge and skills strands for levels 6, 7, and 8) – support the development of students’ technological literacy.

Each of these strands is broken down into smaller groupings (or substrands) called "components". For example, the three components of Technological Practice are Brief Development, Planning for Practice, and Outcome Development and Evaluation.

See Technology in the NZC for detailed and accessible guidance on teaching the components of the three Technology curriculum strands (click the live links in the diagram), including the key ideas and indicators of student progression, which can be used as a guide for assessment and a basis for reporting.

Compound logical operator

A word or symbol, for example, AND, NOT, OR, &, used to link conditions when creating a constraint, with each condition able to be evaluated as true or false. This supports a program to make a decision based on a number of such conditions.

Compression coding

Coding information using fewer bits than the original to reduce the amount of memory required to store files:

  • Lossy compression compresses a file by removing some of the original data.
  • Lossless compression compresses a file without removing any data by storing a map of repeating patterns of data.
  • ZIP is an archive file format that supports lossless data compression. A ZIP file may contain several files or directories, each of which may have been compressed using a particular algorithm.

Computer model, computational model, computer simulation

A computer-generated virtual realisation of an outcome, process, or system used for conceptual design and modelling to represent, communicate, and assess physical and functional attributes.

Computer numerical controlled (CNC)

CNC refers to the automation of machine tools that are operated by a computer. In modern CNC systems, CAD/CAM drawings are output to programs that can generate a computer file that creates the commands needed to operate a particular machine. These commands are then loaded into the CNC machines for production. Since any particular component might require the use of a number of different tools, such as drills, saws, modern machines often combine multiple tools into a single "cell". In other cases, a number of different machines are used with an external controller and human or robotic operators that move the component from machine to machine. In either case the complex series of steps needed to produce any part is highly automated and produces a part that closely matches the original CAD design. (Wikipedia)

Computer simulation

A computer simulation (or computer/computational model) is a virtual realisation of an outcome, process or system, used for conceptual design and modelling, to represent, communicate and assess physical and functional attributes.

Conceptual design

A description of a proposed technological outcome, using media such as scaled plans or drawings, scale models, computer simulations, written descriptions, lists of components and assembly instructions.

Conceptual statement (in a developed brief)

The conceptual statement in a developed brief communicates the purpose of the technological practice to be undertaken – what is to be done and why.

See also: Brief Development

Confidentiality of ideas

A good idea should be protected by keeping it secret until it is developed it into drawings or plans which can be copyright, or a product which can be patented.
Confidentiality agreements can be used to prevent others stealing ideas while the inventor consider how to develop them. They allow someone to discuss their ideas with others, for example manufacturers, and such discussions will not count against them should they eventually decide to apply for a patent (see discussion of novel under Patents, below). Confidentiality agreements can be enforced in court.

Connection technologies

Technologies used in network connections, which may be wired, optical, and wireless technologies.


The conceptual statement in a developed brief communicates the purpose of the technological practice to be undertaken – what is to be done and why.

Constraint (in the development of a technological outcome)

The external limitations or restrictions on the technological practice, including such things as available resources (materials, ingredients, software, components, etc), budget, classroom equipment, time, codes of practice, etc.

Construction and Mechanical Technologies

In Technology in the NZC, Construction and Mechanical Technologies is one of the six specialist knowledge and skills strands.

The strand focuses on knowledge and skills associated with working resistant materials and textiles to create technological outcomes, understanding structures and machines, and modifying and creating patterns. Students develop and understandings and skills related to constructing a quality outcome.

The components of Construction and Mechanical Technologies are:

  • Construct a Resistant Materials Product
  • Construct a Textiles Product
  • Knowledge of Resistant Materials Construction
  • Knowledge of Textiles Construction
  • Knowledge of Structures
  • Knowledge of Machines
  • Pattern Making

For Learning Objectives and teacher guidance, see: Construction and Mechanical Technologies


"Context" in Technology education can refer to the overall focus of a technological development or to describe a technological learning experience.

The "context" of a technological development refers to its wider physical and social environment. For example:

  • The context is rebranding an airline with a focus on the manipulation of information.
  • The context of wind generation is sustainable energy generation with a focus on the storage and control of energy.
  • The context of a packaged scallop product is marketable food products with a focus on the manipulation, transport, and storage of material and information.

When talking about the context of a technological learning experience, the term refers to all the aspects that must be thought about to situate the learning. For example:

  • The context in was outdoor seating within a school environment with a focus on aesthetics, robustness, and vandal-proofing.
  • The context was programme development in ICT with a focus on the control and storage of information.
  • The context was hair care with a focus on the manipulation and storage of materials.

To ensure that the contexts chosen provide for a range of diverse learning opportunities, programmes should include contexts in both senses as explained above. These contexts should cover a range of transformations associated with technology. That is, the transformation of energy, information and/or materials for the purpose of manipulation, storage, transport, and/or control.

Control and feedback

Control mechanisms within a technological system are designed to enhance the efficiency of the system by maximising the desired outputs and minimising the undesirable outputs. The system is designed to be self regulatory.

Control structure

A block of programming that analyses variables in order to select a direction in which to go, based on given parameter or conditions. In an "iterative control structure", a set of instructions are repeated a specified number of times or until a condition is met.


The exclusive legal right to reproduce and control an original literary, musical or artistic work.

  • Protects original written works, computer programs, music, art and designs, photographs videos, movies, broadcasts, tape recordings, and CDs.
  • Protects them whatever format they are available in - including online.
  • Comes into effect immediately, no need for registration.
  • The copyright owner can legally prevent others copying her work, issuing copies to the public e.g by selling, making an adaptation of the work, such as writing a film script from a book, performing, playing, showing or broadcasting the work in public.
  • Protection lasts for a certain term of years, depending on the kind of work and the country; for instance, in New Zealand, a written work is copyright for the lifetime of the author and another 50 years.
  • Once the term of copyright has expired, the work falls into the public domain for anyone to use.

Copyright and Fair Dealing

Copyright is not a monopoly like a patent or registered design – the defence of fair dealing applies to some uses of copyright works which are permitted by law for the public benefit. The reason for the defence is partly because the copyright term is much longer than other IP rights. The problem is that only the courts can decide what is fair - so it can be risky to rely upon fair dealing.
Examples where the defence is likely to apply include making one copy of a copyright work for a person’s own private study or research, provided it is fair to do so and quoting extensively from a copyright work for criticism or review.

Countif function

A function in a spreadsheet that counts the number of cells that meet a single or multiple criteria, for example, the number of cells in the range C2:C11 whose value is greater than three and less than 12.

Critical evaluation

The objective analysis and evaluation of an issue or an opportunity in order to form a judgement.

Critical review points

Critical review points are identified in planning by students as being important periods of evaluation for their projects. These points provide an opportunity to make modifications to the brief, and adjustments to the remaining critical review points themselves.

CSV data

Data found in simple file formats used for storing tabular data. CSV is an abbreviation for "comma-separated values".

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To interpret a text (or artwork) by discovering, recognising and understanding the underlying (unspoken and implicit) assumptions, ideas and frameworks.

Derive (as used in NCEA standards)

Extract or draw from an acknowledged source.

Describe (as used in NCEA standards)

Detail and/or characterise; to give an account by giving details of the characteristics.

Design elements

Design elements related to physical nature may include but are not limited to: movement, pattern, rhythm, proportion, balance, harmony, contrast, style, texture, and colour. Design elements related to functional nature may include but are not limited to: strength and durability, safety, stability, efficiency, reliability, user-friendliness, ergonomic fit, texture, viscosity, consistency, structure, nutritional value, and taste.

In Design and Visual Communication elements of design are derived from the key design principles of aesthetics and function. These may include, but are not limited to, shape, form, rhythm, balance, proportion, colour and contrast, durability, stability, and flexibility/rigidity.

Design ideas

Ideas inspired by research, past practices, and life experiences that have the potential to contribute to a design (conceptual or otherwise) that meets the specification of the brief. The term is used in both the Generic Technology and Design and Visual Communication indicators of progression.

Design judgements

Decisions made, or opinions expressed, that reflect a designer’s perspectives, values, tastes, or views, which may be supported by qualitative and/or quantitative data through research.


A specialised field of learning, such as food technology, nanotechnology, computer science, medicine, etc.

Discuss (as used in NCEA standards)

Consider, compare, and contrast different evidence and opinions with others; debate.

Drawing conventions

The range of accepted practices (line types, projection methods, dimensions, scale, and so on) associated with formal working drawings. Drawing conventions need to be appropriate to the drawing type and correctly applied. Drawing skills also draw on relevant standards and codes of practice.

Dynamic IP address

An IP address that is assigned by a network to a device when it connects to the network and that changes over time. A static IP address does not change like this. Dynamic IP addressing is more efficient for configuring multiple network devices, as each device does not have to be manually assigned its network address.

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Ensure (as used in the Indicators of Progression)

"Provide", "Guide", "Support", and "Ensure" are important concepts for teachers in their support of student learning as they progress from levels 1–8 of the NZC.

Ensure is used when the teacher plays a monitoring role, to check that conditions critical for learning are present. For example, in "planning for practice" and "outcome development and evaluation", the teacher must ensure that an appropriate brief is available to guide student work.

Environment (electronic, physical, social, socio-cultural, socio-technological)

The surroundings of, and influences on, a particular item of interest.

Electronic environments can be defined as functional combinations of hardware and embedded software in the real world – that is, circuits, prototypes or products.

In Technology, physical environment commonly refers to the location of the specific practice or the place where a final outcome will be located.

In Technology, social environment refers to the context of a group or groups of people and their interaction with a technological outcome and/or its development. (A subset of a socio-cultural environment.)

In Technology, socio-cultural environment refers to the combination of the social and cultural (including historical) context within which a technological outcome is developed or used.

Socio-technological environment refers to the context(s) created by the interaction of technological outcomes and non-technological entities and systems. Socio-technological environments include such things as communication networks and hospital transport systems. Exploration of these environments shows how technological outcomes (products and systems) and non-technological entities and systems (people, natural environments, political systems etc) interact together.

Explain (as used in NCEA standards)

"Explain" requires students to describe in detail the "what" and the "why", in order to clarify information. 

Explore (an issue)

"Explore" requires students to undertake research and analyse the results.

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Capable of being accomplished or brought about. 

Feedback (stakeholder)

Information received from a person or group with a legitimate interest in a given project at any point within the development process.

Feedback (system)

Feedback is a mechanism, process or signal that works within prescribed parameters to control a system – this is called a feedback loop.

See also: Control and feedback

Field of technology

Fields of technology include such areas as medical, sporting, communication, textiles, furniture, transport, food, and military.

Fit(ness) for purpose

The ability of a technological outcome to serve its intended purpose ("do the job") within its intended context, where the "job to be done" is clearly defined by the brief.

Fitness for purpose in its broadest sense extends the context to the practices involved in the development of the outcome, including such things as the sustainability of resources used, treatment of the people involved in manufacture, ethical nature of testing practices, cultural appropriateness of trialling procedures, determination of life cycle, and ultimate disposal.

Flow diagram

This term may refer to:

  • Control flow diagram – a diagram to describe the control flow of a business process or program.
  • Data flow diagram – a graphical representation of the flow of data through an information system.
  • Process flow diagram (in operations) – a graphical representation of the operations involved in process.


The way that something works; the purpose for which something exists.

Alternative Function: Uses for a technological outcome, product or system that were not intended by the developers.

Proper Function: The intended behaviour and/or use of a technological outcome. When a product or system does not behave as intended, it is said to malfunction.


A named section of a computer program that performs a specific task. Functions help make code more efficient and reusable. They may take input parameters and produce output.

Functional attribute

See Attribute

Functional characteristics

The active properties of an outcome – "what it does".

Functional modelling

Modelling that enables the (ongoing) evaluation of design concepts for yet-to-be-realised technological outcomes.

Functional qualities

Functional qualities include such things as:

  • operation – for example, the interface between movement and ergonomics
  • construction – for example, material and assembly
  • size, scale, and proportion.

Functional reasoning

Functional reasoning provides a basis for exploring the technical feasibility of the design concept and the realised outcome – that is, "how to make it happen" in the functional modelling phase, and the reasoning behind "how it is happening" in prototyping.

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Gantt chart

A bar chart that shows when tasks need to be undertaken within a project, and, perhaps, the resources required for them. (Named after the American engineer Henry Lawrence Gantt.)

Graphic organiser

A graphic template on which data is entered and is used to compare and contrast the identified data.

Graphical user interface (GUI)

An interface that supports users to work with electronic devices via icons and visual indicators rather than through text commands. The icons and visual indicators are generally manipulated by a mouse or via touch screen technology.

Graphics practice

Graphics practice involves expressing a visual literacy through the development of a design idea by applying design and visual communication techniques and knowledge.

Guide (as used in the Indicators of Progression)

"Provide", "Guide", "Support", and "Ensure" are important concepts for teachers in their support of student learning as they progress from levels 1–8 of the NZC.

Guide is used when students have some level of understanding/competency and the teacher takes responsibility for developing understandings further.

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The hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) plan identifies ways in which potential food safety hazards could be introduced, and specifies preventive measures to ensure that they are not. The comprehensive plan reviews potential risks associated with the ingredients, packaging, equipment and staff, as well as all the stages of the production process. In effect it covers everything that influences the work environment, equipment, processes and people involved.

Hard coding

Assigning a value directly into the source code of a program so that it cannot be changed unless the source code itself is altered.

Hedonic scale

Sensory testing using the hedonic scale has the tester evaluating the product and marking it on a range from "like extremely to dislike extremely".


A technique for solving a problem more quickly when classic methods are too slow, or for finding an approximate solution when classic methods cannot provide an exact solution.

Human factors in design

Human factors include ergonomic and aesthetic factors that influence the design of products, systems, and environments. These factors may include, but are not limited to, the use of anthropometric, psychological, and sensory data gathering and analysis techniques. An understanding of spatial relationships between people, objects, and their environments is important when considering human factors in design.

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In situ

In the original position or place.

In Technology (and engineering), in situ can often mean "in the field" or "on site" or "where the outcome is going to be positioned and used".

Indicators of Progression

Indicators of progression have been developed in technology to help teachers mediate the achievement objectives into specific Learning Outcomes. The indicators can be used to plan learning experiences, aid in diagnostic assessment, and support formative interactions within the classroom to help scaffold student learning. They can also support summative assessment for reporting purposes. The indicators are "indicative" of the level expected by the achievement objective. They do not provide a checklist.

Indigenous Rights

With respect to intellectual property, this term is used to describe the acknowledgement that is due to the culture of the indigenous people of any country. It is not strictly a legal term but refers more to the respect that should be given to other people’s beliefs.
Indigenous rights are considered to arise in connection with things like traditional knowledge (for example, the healing properties of native plants), folklore, artistic works, and traditional performances, including dance and folk music. The haka and the poi dance are New Zealand examples of indigenous culture. Other countries have their own indigenous culture. These things are not protected by our current intellectual property legal system because they have been in existence for hundreds of years and the intellectual property system only protects developed ideas for a certain term of years. After that time they become part of the public domain and anyone can use them for free. Another reason why traditional culture is not protected is because it is difficult for the law to decide who should own it.
Some people think this situation is wrong and that some new system should be developed to give legal protections to traditional culture. The respect and honour that is owed to some traditional culture should mean that it is never permitted to become part of the public domain for anyone to use in any way they choose.

Intellectual property (IP)

An original, creative product of the intellect, such as an idea or an innovation, that can be developed into something more tangible, such as an invention or a work of creative endeavour. As "property" it can be owned, rented, sold, or stolen.

See: Intellectual property in Technology teaching. This section examines many aspects of intellectual property as it relates to the development of technological outcomes. It is important reading for students and teachers.

Intelligent systems

Systems that have been designed to adapt to environmental inputs in ways that change the nature of the system components and/or transformation processes in known and unknown ways.

Intermediate Outcomes

Technological practice also results in other outcomes that are referred to as intermediate outcomes. These intermediate outcomes are very important in technology and technology education, as they are valuable for developing ideas, exploring, testing and communicating aspects of technological outcomes before they are fully realised in situ. These include such things as feasibility studies, conceptual designs, models, prototypes, and so on.


An issue in Technology refers to a specific subset of a context that will enable students to identify a need or opportunity.

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Join table

A table formed by combining columns from one or more tables in a relational database.

Justify (as used in NCEA standards)

Provide an explanation with acceptable reasons or evidence.

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Key stages

The important steps required to develop a technological outcome. These key stages, which can occur sequentially or in parallel, are often documented in a flow chart, and may be reviewed and changed as the project proceeds.

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Legal responsibilities

Requirements that have been established by law. The necessity for legal compliance can influence the nature of the practice and the development of the brief. Legal responsibilities are set out in:

  • Acts (e.g., Fair Trading Act 1986, Consumer Guarantees Act 1993, Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, Privacy Act 1993, Employment Relations Act 2000, Resource Management Act 1991, Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996)
  • Standards (e.g., ISO standards – 9000, 14000 series, Standards New Zealand [SNZ] standards)


A sequence of instructions in a program repeated until a certain condition is reached:

  • with a "for loop", the instructions are repeated a certain number of times
  • with a "while" loop, the instructions are repeated until a given condition becomes false
  • with a "forever loop" (also known as an "infinite" or "endless" loop), the instructions are repeated endlessly.

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A technological outcome that does not carry out its proper function successfully is described as a malfunction or is said to malfunction.

See also: Characteristics of technological outcomes

Manipulating materials

Working with existing materials in ways that do not change their properties as their composition and structure is not altered.

Manufacturing processes

Manufacturing processes include such things as milk powder manufacture, beer brewing, meat packing and freezing, carpet manufacture, urea from natural gas, newsprint, oil refining, injection-moulded plastics, electronics, fish filleting and freezing, rotationally moulded plastics, superphosphate, agricultural machinery, possum and merino yarn, marine/leisure products, niche furniture, and garment manufacture.

Manufacturing systems

Manufacturing systems include such things as: one-off custom manufacturing of a unique single product batch, intermittent or short-run manufacturing – multiple copies of the same product or a single batch of a processed product continuous (often called "assembly line") manufacture flexible manufacture and customisation.

Material evaluation

Knowledge underpinning material evaluation procedures includes such things as a material’s composition and structure; how a material’s properties can be changed; the material’s expected performance specifications; and the social, cultural, and environmental factors associated with where the product is to be situated.

Mental models

A mental model is an explanation in someone's thought process for how something works in the real world. Mental models have been studied by cognitive scientists as part of efforts to understand how humans know, perceive, make decisions, and construct behavior in a variety of environments.

Mind map

A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea.

Mitigate risk

The steps taken to reduce the incidence and/or the effects of failure.


A mockup is a physical representation of an idea (part of an intended solution) that is used to test/predict its feasibility.


A model is a physical representation of a technological solution (sometimes scaled) that enables a solution's feasibility to be tested/predicted.

Modelling; Functional

Modelling is a critical element of technological knowledge. Functional modelling is a component of Technological modelling which may be undertaken during the development of a project.

Functional modelling tests suitability of design, enabling the ongoing evaluation of design concepts for yet-to-be realised technological outcomes. Evidence gained from functional modelling is used to establish (or not) a defendable case for its further development.

Compare with: Prototyping

Modes (of activity in Technology)

The manner in which an activity is conducted, for example, digital applications, photography, image manipulation, animation, models, and the range of conventional drawing and sketching methods.

Modes of Production

Mode of production refers to production processes that include batch, continuous and semi-continuous

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An identified requirement of a person, group, or environment. A need is identified from an issue and sits within a context. Technological practice can be undertaken in an attempt to meet an identified need.

See also: Opportunity

Need or Opportunity

A need in technology refers to an identified requirement of a person, group or environment. A need is identified from an issue, and sits within a context. Technological practice can be undertaken in an attempt to meet an identified need.

An opportunity in technology refers to an identified possibility for a person, group or environment. An opportunity is identified from an issue, and sits within a context. Technological practice can be undertaken in an attempt to realise an identified opportunity.

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Operational parameters (of systems)

The boundaries and/or conditions within which a system has been designed to function.


An opportunity in Technology refers to an identified possibility for a person, group or environment. An opportunity is identified from an issue, and sits within a context. Technological practice can be undertaken in an attempt to realise an identified opportunity.

See also: Need


To make as effective/functional as possible.


Information, event, object, or state of being produced as a result or consequence.

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Parity bit

A bit added to a string of binary code to detect errors. A parity bit (also known as a "check bit") gives data either an odd or even parity, which is used to validate the integrity of the data.


  • Protect an invention – the main kinds of inventions that can be patented are:

  • a useful product that is new or improved,
  • a new or improved process that can be used in industry,
  • new computer technology
  • A fee is paid to IPONZ when applying for a patent, and it will only be granted if an invention is:
  • novel i.e. not previously known in New Zealand (see confidentiality agreements above). IPONZ has special arrangements for permitting the public display of inventions at events such as science fairs, prior to applying for a patent. Certain procedures must be followed (check the IPONZ website well before your event) and the patent must be applied for within a specified time after the display.
  • not obvious – it must show an ‘inventive step’.
  • Owning a patent means having the legal right to prevent others in New Zealand commercialising an invention – although this could necessitate taking them to court (which could be costly). It does not have to be proved the invented product was copied, only that the same process of making it has been used commercially without your permission.
  • The patent will be granted for 4 years, but it can be renewed regularly up to a maximum term of 20 years, after which the patent expires.

Performance properties

Performance properties of materials refer to such things as thermal and electrical conductivity, water resistance, texture, flexibility, colour, etc. Subjective measurement is reliant on people’s perception (tasty, evokes a sense of natural beauty, warm and inviting, and so on), whereas objective measurement is not (conductivity, UV resistance, and so on).


A network software utility used to test if a computer is operating and its network connections are intact.

Plan of action

A planning tool that outlines intended actions to accomplish a specific goal. It sets out how resources such as time, expertise, materials and finance will be used in a coherent and systematic manner during the development of a technological solution. It establishes key milestone outcomes and states how each of the resources is to be used to achieve the outcome at each milestone stage.

Planning tools

Planning tools may include but are not limited to: brainstorms, mind-maps, idea banks, reflective journals and scrapbooks, plans of action, Gantt charts, flow diagrams, graphical organisers, and spreadsheets and databases.

Practical Reasoning

Practical reasoning focuses on "should we make it happen?" and "should it be happening?"

Problem decomposition

Breaking down an issue or problem into smaller ones, often so it can be solved more easily.

Processing tests

Tests may include, but are not limited to, testing viscosity, sensory attributes, brix, moisture content, nutrition content using tables, presence (or absence) of microbial activity, degree of fermentation, and colour stability.


Prototyping is the modelling of a realised but yet-to-be-implemented technological outcome. The purpose of prototyping is to evaluate the fitness for purpose of a technological outcome against the brief and is undertaken to establish (or not) a defendable case for its implementation, refinement or further development.

Compare with: Modelling – Functional


"Provide", "Guide", "Support", and "Ensure" are important concepts for teachers in their support of student learning as they progress from levels 1–8 of the NZC.

Provide is used when the teacher takes full responsibility for introducing and explicitly teaching new knowledge/skill or practices.


A detailed but readable description of what a computer program or algorithm must do. It uses the structural conventions of a normal programming language, but is intended to be read by humans rather than machines.

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A search in a database to retrieve data that matches certain parameters.

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Rapid prototyping

The term refers to a class of technologies that can automatically construct physical models from Computer-Aided Design (CAD) data. These "three dimensional printers" allow designers to quickly create tangible prototypes of their designs, rather than just two-dimensional pictures. Such models make excellent visual aids for communicating ideas and can be used for design testing.

Reasoning; functional vs practical

Functional reasoning focuses on "how to make it happen" and "how it is happening".

Practical reasoning focuses on knowing what is justifiable in social and ethical terms and is based on what “should” or “ought” to be done. It is the normative element of technology and reflects the social and cultural morals and ethics of technology.

Redundancy (in technological system design)

The duplication of component parts of a system and/or a subsystem as a "backup" or "fail safe" provision to increase reliability.

See also: Technological Systems: Key ideas

Reflective journal

A record of progress, which may be used as a planning tool or for self or external assessment.

Registered Designs

The external appearance of some products can be protected by applying to register a design right at IPONZ.
A design right protects a new or original shape, pattern, or decorative finish that has been applied to the product by an industrial process. The registered design will be granted for five years, but it can be renewed regularly up to a maximum term of 15 years, after which the registration expires. This kind of protection is similar to a patent. It does not have to be proved the design was copied, only that the same design has been used commercially without permission. Although most registered designs will also be copyright (which is free and arises automatically), registered design protection is stronger.
Many New Zealand manufacturers rely upon the protection for industrial designs which is available under the Copyright Act (see below) and do not apply for registered design protection. However overseas copyright laws do not generally protect industrial designs – if you plan to export your articles you should apply for registered design protection in each country.


In technological systems, reliability refers to a system’s ability to perform consistently and maintain its expected functions when operated within a specified manner.

See also: Technological Systems: Key ideas

Remote data packet exchange

The process of a device sending or receiving data packets to or from a location outside the home network. This can involve using a protocol such as TCP or UDP and resolving the DNS.

Resistant materials

Materials broadly categorised as "resistant to change", including wood, metal, ceramics, plastics, glass, and their composites.


Something (raw materials, time, personnel, information) used to help achieve an objective.


The chance of an occurrence (an event, action, or lack of action) that will have a negative impact upon objectives. Identified risk is measured in terms of consequences and likelihood.

Rongoā Māori

Rongoā (medicine, drug, remedy) Māori refers to traditional Māori medicines produced from New Zealand native plants.


A rubric is an assessment tool that conveys a list of criteria important to the assessment task and then communicates gradations of quality for each criterion. For a rubric to be most effective it should:

  • use specific language – avoiding terms like sometimes or rarely;
  • contain requirements that are both measureable and observable;
  • be written in positive language that all students can understand; and
  • be realistic, providing a valid entry point for all students.

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Safety plan

A plan that identifies hazards and strategies to deal with them, developed within technological practice. This plan may refer to physical, cultural, and ethical issues and their fitness for purpose.


The planning of actions and events to a timescale. This could be done as a list or flow diagram or other graphic organiser. Scheduling includes such things as planning construction orders or a production sequence.

School Curriculum

The school curriculum for Technology is developed by all staff involved in the leadership and delivery of Technology in the school. The school Technology curriculum is recorded by way of Technology programmes that guide all staff teaching within it. Technology programmes are delivered in line with the expectations within the national technology curriculum, but also take into account the needs and desires of the school community, the strengths of the teaching staff, and the interests and ability of the students.

Source code

The code of a computer program written so it’s readable by a person and using the particular syntax of a programming language, for example, C, Python, Java. Source code is compiled or interpreted into machine code able to be run by a computer.

Spatial design

An area of design that focuses on the space between interior and exterior environments, both in the private and public realm. The emphasis of the discipline is on working with people and space, particularly looking at the notion of place. Spatial design uses research methods often found in disciplines such as product and service design as well as social and historical methods.

Special features (of textiles) (of resistant materials)

Special features of textiles rely on the application of advanced skills, such as style features, including set in sleeve, fly front, tailored collars and cuffs, welt pockets; decorative features, including pin tucking, embroidery, and shirring; and structural features, including 3D felting and combining different fibres and materials in felting, such as in nuno felting.

Special features of resistant materials rely on the application of advanced craft skills to achieve the specified product for this achievement standard, and will require one or more special features from each of the categories below:

  • structural – such as mortise and tenon joint, lapped dovetailed drawer, annealed component, mig-welded panels, sandcasted component, and milling an advanced component

    Special features of textilesrely on the application of advanced skills, such as style features, including set in sleeve, fly front, tailored collars and cuffs, welt pockets; decorative features, including pin tucking, embroidery, and shirring; and structural features, including 3D felting and combining different fibres and materials in felting, such as in nuno felting.

    Special features of resistant materialsrely on the application of advanced craft skills to achieve the specified product for this achievement standard, and will require one or more special features from each of the categories below:

    • structural – such as mortise and tenon joint, lapped dovetailed drawer, annealed component, mig-welded panels, sandcasted component, and milling an advanced component
    • aesthetic – such as parquetry, inlaid design, turned table legs, taper turned component, and dressed edges.

Specifications (in a brief)

Specifications in a brief define (the nature of) the appearance and performance requirements against which an outcome can be evaluated as fit for purpose (by key and wider stakeholders). The specifications may also include constraints on both the outcome and the practice that can be undertaken to develop it.


A character or visual representation of an object in a computer game, simulation, or application.


A person or groups of people (families, whānau, communities, iwi, organisations, businesses) with a vested interest in a technological outcome, and/or its development.

Key stakeholders are those people that are directly influential or will be directly impacted on by the technological practice itself and/or its resulting outcomes (including the technological outcome and any other by-products).

Wider (community) stakeholders are those people that are less directly influential for or impacted on by the practice or outcome. They can, nonetheless, be identified as having some level of influence, often through others, and/or they may be affected by the project or its outcome in the future.

String concatenation

The joining together of two or more strings of characters.

Subjective techniques

Evaluation methods based on personal opinion and judgements, such as sensory tests (all senses) and opinion and preference surveys.


"Provide", "Guide", "Support" and "Ensure" are important concepts for teachers in their support of student learning as they progress from levels 1–8 of the NZC.

Support is used when the teacher plays a supportive role through questioning and challenging students to support their learning – the balance shifts towards the student taking more responsibility for their learning, drawing from their past learning to consolidate and extend their understandings.


The use of resources, the creation of products and/or the provision of services in such a way as to meet present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs by the same or similar means.

Switch statement

A control mechanism in which the value of a variable or expression changes the execution of a program and which usually involves multiple branches.

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Technological literacy

The aim of technology education is for students to develop “a broad technological literacy” – to gain skills, knowledge, and understanding that will enable them to thoughtfully live with, critique, and contribute to the technological developments that shape our lives.

Technologically literate young people:

  • have a broad understanding of how and why things work
  • understand how technological products and technological systems are developed
  • can critically evaluate technological developments and trends
  • can design and evaluate their own solutions in response to needs and opportunities.

Like any other literacy, technological literacy is developed by exposure to a wide range of relevant experiences over time. The three strands of the technology curriculum – technological practice, technological knowledge, and the nature of technology – are designed to facilitate this.

Technological Modelling

Technological modelling is the testing of design ideas to see if they can contribute to a fit-for-purpose technological outcome. There are two types of technological modelling:

  • Functional modelling is the ongoing testing of design concepts
  • Prototyping is the realisation of a fully functioning model

Taken together, the two types of modelling provide evidence of factors that may impact on, and consequences that may result from, the development of a technological outcome.

Technological modelling involves two kinds of reasoning:

  • Functional reasoning – how to make it happen, how it is happening
  • Practical reasoning – should we make it happen? should it be happening?

See also: Technological Modelling

Technological Outcomes

Products and systems developed through Technological Practice for a specific purpose. A technological outcome is evaluated in terms of its fitness for purpose, and can be described by their physical and functional nature.

See: Characteristics of Technological Outcomes 

Technological Practice

The incremental practices involved in creating a technological outcome: including identifying needs or opportunities, exploring, defining and developing potential outcomes, and modelling, evaluating, and testing to ensure resulting outcomes are fit for purpose.

Technological Practice is one of the three main strands of Technology in The New Zealand Curriculum.

See: Technological Practice

Technological solution

The realisable means proposed by a technologist for meeting the requirements of a brief. It will be presented in sufficiently detailed and clear manner that it is both fully realisable (suitable for implementation in practice), and can be fully tested against the specifications in the brief.

Technological systems

A set of interconnected parts designed to transform, store, transport or control materials, energy and/or information.

See also: Technological Systems

Technology Education

Technology education is a planned process designed to develop students' competence and confidence in understanding and using existing technologies and in creating solutions to technological problems. It contributes to the intellectual and practical development of students, as individuals and as informed members of a technological society.

Text-based programming

A traditional programming method in which letters, numbers, and symbols are typed to determine inputs and outputs. Text-based programming languages such as Python, C, and Java require programmers to follow a formal, text-based syntax.

Trade Marks

A brand or logo distinguishing the goods or services of one trader from another can be registered as a trade mark at IPONZ. A registered trade mark is entitled to display the ® symbol. A fee is paid to IPONZ when applying to register a trade mark.
The main requirements for registration are that the trade mark is:

  • described graphically, that is, in words or pictures;
  • distinctive (unusual) and not something that is descriptive of the goods or services, because that would prevent other traders using that word;
  • not misleading or deceptive;
  • not offensive to any section of the New Zealand community, including Maori.

A trade mark is registered for one or more particular classes of goods or services in New Zealand. Other traders might register the same trade mark for different kinds of goods and or services. However, trade marks that are considered world famous are not permitted to be registered in New Zealand by another trader for any class of goods. Nobody else can use the registered trade mark for trading purposes for goods or services of the same class. If they do, a legal action can be brought against them. A registered trade mark never expires so long as it is continuously used by its owner for commercial purposes and a renewal fee is paid to IPONZ every ten years.

Trade Secrets

Once the idea is developed into a commercial product the inventor could choose to continue to keep the way it is made a trade secret. Any employees who need to know the trade secret would have to sign a confidentiality agreement in their employment contracts. The trade secret lasts for ever, provided nobody reveals the information. If they do, the only remedy is to sue them for damages – but the secret is out in the open! A person cannot prevent somebody independently working out how they have made the same product (i.e. ‘reverse engineering the process’).

Transformation processes

Processes that occur within a system to ensure the inputs are changed into the outputs in a controlled and intended way, without need for additional human design input.

Transforming refers to changing the structure or particle alignment within an existing material in order to change some of its properties, but, in terms of its composition, it remains the same material. For example, felting; beating an egg white; heat treating metals to harden or anneal them; steaming timber to soften its fibres so that it can be manipulated (bent).

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Usability is a term used to denote the ease with which people can employ a particular tool or other human-made object in order to achieve a particular goal. In human-computer interaction and computer science, usability usually refers to the elegance and clarity with which the user interface of a computer program or a web site is designed. The concept of usability also includes learnability, retainability and user satisfaction.

Usability Testing

Usability testing is an effective way to verify an existing design or system. It is a structured observation of users in a laboratory setting. Users are observed performing important tasks with a working system or prototype. They are asked to “think aloud” while completing the tasks. This includes describing what they are trying to do, the hypotheses they are forming, their expected results of an action, etc. The evaluator observes the user's performance noting problems, comments, circuitous paths, etc. Usability tests are useful for collecting quantitative data regarding time per task and number of errors. (Rubin, 1994)

The evaluator always explains to users that only the software is being tested, not the user themselves. Debriefing is usually included to get gather additional information about the user's experience. A usability test is typically videotaped so the evaluator may perform more detailed observations and analysis after the test.

User-centered design

In the user-centered design paradigm, the product is designed with its intended users in mind at all times. In the user-driven or participatory design paradigm, some of the users become actual or de facto members of the design team.

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"Containers" used to label and store data in memory. The data can then be used throughout a program:

  • Integer variables use only numbers and so can be used for calculations
  • String variables are sequences of code that may contain numbers, letters, and other characters, and so cannot be used for calculations.

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