A brief is a statement that guides students to design and develop a fit for purpose, successful outcome. The brief guides the design thinking processes and is a core element of ‘intervention by design’; the essence of Technology education.
Brief development is an authentic, iterative, and very personal, and ever evolving, dynamic process. Because of this, how students approach it, can look different as they bring their individual personalities and approaches to iteratively refine it, describing and justifying the outcome that is being developed.
These illustrative examples demonstrate how skills and understandings related to the brief development component could be developed at different school levels.
The following learning experiences have been provided to support teachers as they develop their understanding of the brief development component of the technological practice strand.
There is no expectation that these would form the basis of any specific programme of learning in technology. The learning experiences have been summarised from classrooms across New Zealand and provide examples of student achievement across a range of levels.
During a discussion about a lunchtime toilet incident, students in this class identified that there were problems with the toilets. There was general agreement that the toilets were unpleasant to use, and from this, the teacher and students decided they should design and develop the environment to improve it. They worked with a number of experts from the local community to make changes that the whole school would benefit from. For details of this programme of learning, see the case study: Product development technology.
Students achieving at level 1 could:
- describe the improvements they worked to develop
- identify attributes needed in the environment for students.
Students achieving at level 2 could:
- explain the new environment in terms of colours and fittings that could be chosen, and how this would need to be cared for to make sure it continued to be an improvement
- describe the attributes required for the environment to be more pleasant for students to use, in terms of creating the environment itself (colours, the selection of fittings), as well as creating systems to ensure the maintenance of the environment in the future (cleaning systems and education of users)
- describe specific attributes they identified for their part of the project in a way that allowed them, and their teacher, to evaluate their progress and final outcome.
Year 7 students identified a common personal need created by their attendance at a technology centre. Because they attended another school for their technology programmes, they had to bring food for lunch, and during the winter they liked this to be hot. In the past, this hot food was mostly pies. Together the classes looked at other possibilities for quick meal/snack ideas that would be both appealing and nutritious.
Students achieving at level 3 could:
- describe what they had decided to develop in terms of what they wanted it to be like and explain how this particular type of food outcome reflected the need in terms of personal likes and health choices
- describe the key attributes required for their snack in terms of taste, appearance, texture, time to cook, ease of making, and nutritional value in ways that allowed them and their teacher to evaluate their progress and final outcome
- refine their conceptual statement and key attributes as they experimented with different ingredients and methods of making their food outcomes, and personally evaluated their food outcomes for taste, appearance, and texture.
Students achieving at level 4 could:
- justify what they had decided to develop and why they had chosen this particular type of food outcome in terms of personal likes and health choices, and feedback from others about appropriate health choices for their age and body type, and the resources (time, equipment, ingredients, level of skill) required to prepare it
- establish key attributes for their particular outcome as a starting point for development work
- refine their conceptual statement and key attributes as they undertook further research, experimented with different ingredients and methods of production, and carried out testing personally and with others in the class, to gain feedback on its taste, appearance and texture in line with key attributes
- describe the key attributes required in terms of taste, appearance, texture, time to cook, ease of making, and nutritional value in ways that allowed them, their teacher and others in the class to provide feedback on their progress and final outcome.
A year 10 class was given the context of issues affecting the community when it comes to digital technologies, from which they had to select an issue of particular concern. From this issue, the students undertook brief development to support the creation of an informative digital presentation for an identified target audience focussed on the issue. In creating their presentation, students applied the concepts learnt in a previous learning programme and how to manipulate digital images to enhance their presentation.
Students achieving at level 4 could:
- identify an opportunity and establish a conceptual statement outlining their presentation based on this
- justify the focus and nature of their presentation, based on understandings of the issue, its impact on the community, and the target audience
- establish key attributes for their presentation as a starting point for development work
- refine their conceptual statement and key attributes as they undertook further research into the issue, experimented with design, typography and image manipulation and trialled material in different forms to gain feedback from members of their target audience, about the impact of animations and other effects on the development of understandings of the focus issue
- describe the key attributes required for their presentation, in terms of aesthetics and performance, in ways that allowed them, their teacher and members of their target audience to provide feedback on their progress and the fitness for purpose of their final outcome.
Students achieving at level 5 could:
- identify an opportunity and establish a conceptual statement based on this and an understanding of the intended audience
- justify the focus and nature of their presentation, based on understandings of the issue, its impact on the community, and feedback gained from key stakeholders representative of their target audience
- develop specifications for their presentation from identified attributes ensuring that each specification allows for a standardised evaluation to be undertaken
- refine their conceptual statement and specifications as they undertook further research into the issue and its impact on the wider community, developed further skills and understandings of presentation design, typography and image manipulation and gained evidence from key stakeholders of how both the information and its presentation impacted (positively and/or negatively) on the development of understandings of the issue
- describe final specifications for their presentation in terms of aesthetics and performance that allowed them, their teacher and key members of their target audience to provide feedback on their progress and the fitness for purpose of their final outcome.
A group of year 11 students was provided with an opportunity to develop software applications to meet a specific learning need. The students were asked to identify a user with a specific learning need and investigate that need over the coming weeks. The users identified by the students had a range of needs.
One student had a ten-year-old sister who was just starting to do algebra; he wanted to make the subject fun, because when he had done it, he had found it intimidating. Another wanted to create a learning programme that would teach his sister about healthy eating. Several students worked with ESOL students in the school and one worked with the school learning support unit. During the learning programme, the students needed to learn about programming principles, interface design, coding animations, and interactivity.
Students achieving at level 5 could:
- reflect on previous planning decisions they had made, identifying things they did well and not so well in the past, in terms of organising their time and resources
- evaluate possible planning tools for use in this project and select a visual diary format, a planning framework, and a storyboarding template to support their practice
- establish and record their initial plans in a format that demonstrated they were making informed decisions about what was required of them, in terms of accessing information from their target user, guidance from their teacher and/or mentor, and their personal development of skills and knowledge in the area of programming and code development
- draw sketches of possible ideas for games and suggest potential storylines, using these to gain feedback from the target user before reviewing ideas for the programme
- capture their progress to date in a visual diary, and explore the implications for what steps they needed to take next and the resources required to support this
- develop diagramming techniques to communicate current thinking for feedback and to provide guidance for the construction of the programme
- evaluate progress to date, by reflecting on plans, drawing and structuring diagrams, and recording reasons for decisions made in their visual diary.
Students achieving at level 6 could:
- critically analyse their own and others' planning practices to establish personal organisational abilities, and explain how these could be enhanced through the use of well selected planning tools
- research and evaluate a range of planning tools, to select tools justified as suitable to the context of the project and their personal organisational ability
- draw detailed sketches of feasible ideas for games and develop potential storylines, using these to gain feedback from the target user before reviewing ideas for the programme
- employ the use of selected planning tools (a visual diary, updateable planning framework, and a range of diagramming templates) at different times, to best support their forward planning, and time and resource management; provide justifications for decision making in terms of the physical and social environment in which they were working and the specific requirements of the target user.
Students achieving at level 7 could:
- critically analyse their own and others' experiences of self and team management, to identify a range of planning tools that could be successful in enhancing management practices
- identify personal strengths and weaknesses in relationship to the planning and management requirements of the brief, and develop planning tools that would specifically address these in the context of the project
- employ specifically developed planning tools (a visual diary, updateable planning framework, and a range of diagramming techniques) in an effective manner, to manage, document, and justify decisions in terms of the physical and social environment in which they are working and the specific requirements of the target user.
Students achieving at level 8 could:
- critically analyse their own and others' project management experiences in the field of digital technologies, to identify key factors essential to efficient project management
- identify personal strengths and weaknesses in relationship to project management in technology, and plan learning opportunities to develop and enhance these
- critically analyse a broad range of planning tools and select those that would best support their project management practices
- develop an initial plan that allowed for extensive exploration of what efficient planning and resource management would require in this environment
- employ the use of specifically selected planning tools to support the project management of their work in an efficient and critically reflective manner, ensuring decisions about information presented, means of presentation, resources used, and the management of time and resources were informed and critically evaluated in an ongoing manner, in keeping with contemporary understandings and project management best practice in the field of digital technologies.
Acknowledgment: This paper is derived from an earlier version by Dr Vicki Compton and Cliff Harwood.