Design technology is an important subject in schools. It teaches hands-on, practical skills, whilst also encouraging problem-solving, creativity, and teamwork. Yet to allow students to fully explore the potential available, a modern classroom design is ideal. Here are some great reasons for upgrading your design technology classrooms.
The need for upgrading design technology classrooms
Design technology is a practical subject that requires students to engage and learn by doing. Yet one of the most important factors for learning success is the classroom. The design, layout, facilities and equipment, all play a crucial role in how well students learn and engage.
That’s why ensuring your design technology classrooms offer the right facilities, equipment, and technology is increasingly important. Providing such components encourages active learning, and helps improve skills development.
Design technology (DT) is an inherently practical and creative subject. Students should be encouraged to participate in practical activities and lessons to help develop their learning, skills, and experience. DT can include a range of different areas, including:
- Resistant materials (woodwork, metalwork, etc.)
- Food technology
- Graphic design (or computer-aided design)
Ideally, effective DT environments will aid and encourage students to research, design, test, and evaluate solutions. The resources and facilities available to students in DT workshops will greatly impact the success with which students fulfil these activities.
Students will use a variety of tools and equipment throughout the learning process in a DT workshop:
- Research and planning – reading, sketching, writing, and analysing.
- Design – using sketching or computer imagery/graphics to create and experiment with ideas and research.
- Planning – using a wide range of machines, tools, and equipment to help students realise their designs, ideas, and solutions.
- Evaluating – providing suitable facilities to allow students to test and realise their products, and make adjustments as necessary. This may be supported by computer analysis or the creation of a design portfolio.
Providing the optimal facilities and resources throughout the learning process will help enhance learning success.
The types of design technology workshop spaces
Many different types of DT workshop spaces will be used throughout the student learning pathway. Many of these environments will need to allow for flexibility in the learning activities that take place.
- Textiles – equipment for textile working by both hand and machine.
- Food – equipment to store, prepare and cook a range of food options.
- Materials – equipment and tools for wood, metal, and plastic work. This may also include computer graphics, 2D, and 3D products.
- Shared computer area – access to IT to allow for research, design, and evaluation activities.
- Design workspace – an area that allows for flexibility to aid with design and planning. Some schools may prefer to have different rooms depending on usage, such as a separate space for computer imagery/graphics machines (such as CAD/CAM).
- Storerooms – providing the safe and consistent storage of teaching equipment, resources, and materials. Suitable preparation areas for staff may also be included.
Reasons for upgrading design technology classrooms
Usability and practicality
One of the first reasons for upgrading DT classrooms is to increase the usability, flexibility and practicality of these spaces. However, it is also important to account for the range of classes, curriculums, and subjects being taught in one given space.
Making DT workshops flexible across multiple topics or subjects can provide much more incentive for upgrading, and potentially modernising, workshop learning spaces.
Matching teach activities to the space size
Upgrading a design technology classroom will allow you to tailor your teaching activities to the size and layout of the space. Not only will this aid teaching and learning, but it will also help to maximise the usage of available space.
Learning spaces for resistant materials and food technology should be larger than textile and graphic product spaces, to allow for more movement, flexibility, and practical tasks.
Incorporate the latest technology
Technology is changing all the time. That doesn’t just include computers; CAD/CAM, appliances, and machinery are all changing, as new and improved models and software become available. Whether it is to improve the working efficiency of the learning environment or improve safety, both students and teachers will benefit from technology upgrades.
Also, technology can be incorporated into DT workshops as a way to enhance student engagement and collaboration. Using interactive technology, such as interactive whiteboards, allows for whole-class discussions and engagement.
The technology incorporated into DT workshops provides students with a method for becoming independent learners. Access to technology gives students the opportunity to find solutions to a given problem and create practical solutions to overcome such challenges.
As workshops can be come busy, especially with machinery, IT facilities are usually provided in a separate area/room (although still within the technology department). Constant access to the internet and sufficient power supplies will also be required to successful incorporate technology.
Another method of upgrading your DT classroom is adjusting the layout to improve teaching and learning. A modern learning space is built on flexibility. Upgrading your workshop gives you the chance to create a layout that is flexible and able to adapt to the requirements of each class.
A flexible layout will enable dynamic lessons and multiple subjects/classes to be taught within the same space. The furniture, fixtures, and fittings (FF&E), alongside the shape of a space will affect the layout and flexibility).
Some layout tips include:
- Provide sufficient space for students’ bags and coats at the entrance to the learning space.
- Direct access to any storage rooms and storage spaces.
- Sufficient space between tables, workbenches, and machinery.
- Fixed FF&E is placed around the sides of the space, with loose FF&E in the centre space (this helps with flexibility).
Furniture, fittings, and equipment
Another reason for upgrading your DT classroom is the ability to improve or change the current FF&E. FF&E entails a wide range of elements, including anything that is not physically fixed to the structure of a building, such as furniture or machinery.
The furniture used in DT workshops needs to be both suitable for the activities that take place and robust enough to withstand the demands of extensive usage. FF&E needs to help increase the flexibility of the given space, while also being comfortable and practical.
The safety and durability of FF&E will be a vital consideration for DT workshops. So too will the maintenance and cost. Equipment like machinery will have maintenance costs beyond the initial installation cost.
Not only does upgrading machinery help improve safety, but it can also help reduce some of the maintenance expenditures. Older machines are likely to require much more extensive maintenance to keep them in safe, working order. Warranties and guarantees may also have expired.
There are many great reasons why you should upgrade your design technology classrooms. Upgrading will help to create a flexible space that is much more adaptable to teaching. But most importantly, it helps create a modern learning space that can improve learning success.