Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies

Introduction to Applied Design, Skills,
and Technologies


The ability to design, make, acquire, and apply skills and technologies is important in the world today and key in the education of citizens for the future.

The Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies (ADST) curriculum is an experiential, hands-on program of learning through design and creation that includes skills and concepts from traditional and First Peoples practice; from the existing disciplines of Business Education, Home Economics and Culinary Arts, Information and Communications Technology, and Technology Education; and from new and emerging fields. It fosters the development of the skills and knowledge that will support students in developing practical, creative, and innovative responses to everyday needs and challenges.

Applied learning is an integral part of all of B.C.’s curricula, through the Curricular Competencies, the “doing” part of the curricula, and through the ADST K-12 curriculum.

Design involves the ability to combine an empathetic understanding of the context of a challenge, creativity in the generation of insights and solutions, and critical thinking for analyzing and fitting solutions to context. To move from design to final product or service requires skills and technology.

In the ADST curriculum, students grow through the use of design thinking principles. This approach helps them gain understanding of how to apply their skills to both finding challenges and solving them in creative ways, using appropriate technologies for the task at hand.

Features of the curriculum

The ADST curriculum offers:

  • a focus on designing thinking principles, the acquisition of skills, and the application of technologies
  • multiple methods of delivery that can be offered in different ways at different grade levels
  • curriculum that encourages the use of a range of approaches to support student learning in the manner best suited to their diverse abilities
  • Curricular Competencies that offer logical growth along a continuum, to provide a consistent and continuous focus for both students and teachers on the “doing” aspect of the curriculum, and to encourage student metacognition

Flexible teaching and learning

Through the ADST curriculum’s unified design, teachers have the option of creating learning experiences that combine two or more disciplines. The curriculum’s flexibility accommodates both a range of program structures and school contexts across the province, while supporting the diverse interests of students.

A unified curriculum

The unified K-9 ADST curriculum gives teachers the option of taking integrated instructional approaches without having to follow a discipline-specific or interdisciplinary preference or priority. In Grade 9, both a unified and a discipline-specific curriculum are provided, offering flexibility and choice for students with emerging and specific interests. The unified curriculum employs language shared by the disciplines rather than melding the disciplines into one; however, each discipline retains its distinguishable qualities and unique learning contexts.

Options for in-depth study

Building on the K-9 curriculum, the discipline-specific ADST curriculum in Grades 10, 11, and 12 engages students who are committed to pursuing a greater depth or breadth of study. These curricula transition students to engage more fully in ADST, whether as a career choice, as a source of knowledge to incorporate into another field of work, or simply for enjoyment in daily life.

K-5 Foundations

In the early years, students delve into the ADST curriculum through exploratory and purposeful play. As they get older and both broaden and deepen their interests and passions, they have opportunities to develop foundational skills that have a practical, creative, and real-life focus.

The ADST curriculum facilitates and encourages cross-curricular student learning in Kindergarten through Grade 5. Big Ideas and Curricular Competencies are provided for use with grade-level content from other learning areas. This provides students with cross-curricular opportunities that will lead them to Big Idea understandings, while developing foundational mindsets and skills in design thinking and making.

Grades 6-9 Explorations

Students in Grades 6 through 9 explore specific areas of the ADST curriculum while continuing to build their design thinking and foundational skills. The curriculum includes learning choices such as Computational Thinking and Digital Literacy as well as introduces specialized areas such as Metalwork and Food Studies, through both existing and new and emerging fields, while providing opportunities for choice through modularization and other delivery options.

Grades 10-12 Specializations

Students in Grades 10 through 12 may either specialize in a specific area or continue to explore their broader interests. The curriculum encompasses content from Business Education, Home Economics and Culinary Arts, Information and Communications Technology, and Technology Education. This will enable students to personalize their learning by pursuing interests that are relevant to them.

Design of the ADST curriculum

Big Ideas

The Big Ideas are intended to capture a progression of learning through the application of design processes, skills, and technologies. Examples of the progression of learning are shown in the chart below.

 

K-3

4-5

6-8

9-10

11-12

Applied Design

Designs grow out of natural curiosity.

Designs can be improved with prototyping and testing.

Design can be responsive to identified needs.

Social,
ethical, and sustainability considerations impact design.

Design for the life cycle includes consideration of social and environmental impacts.

Applied Skills

Skills can be developed through play.

Skills are developed through practice, effort, and action.

Complex tasks require the acquisition of additional skills.

Complex tasks require the sequencing of skills.

Design choices require the evaluation and refinement of skills.

Applied Technologies

Technologies are tools that extend human capabilities.

 

The choice of technology and tools depends on the task.

Complex tasks may require multiple
tools and technologies.

Complex tasks require different technologies and tools at different stages.

Tools and technologies can be adapted for specific purposes.

Curricular Competencies

The Curricular Competencies are organized under three primary curriculum organizers:

  • Applied Design – the phases of the design process, from inception to completion (these are described in further detail below)
  • Applied Skills – the skills used to facilitate the design process (e.g., co-operation and collaboration, interview skills, workflow analysis, research skills, task flows)
  • Applied Technologies – the skills needed to access technologies that help facilitate design thinking and the design process; these differ according to the area of application (e.g., the technologies used in Home Economics will differ from those in Computer Programming and those in Woodworking)

Content

The ADST curriculum does not specify Content for Kindergarten through Grade 5, but rather draws on grade-level content from other areas of learning to create learning standards that provide students with cross-curricular opportunities to develop foundational mindsets and skills in design thinking and making.

Grades 6 through 9 in ADST are intended as exploration years. A common set of Content options in Grades 6 and 7 is structured as short modules that may be offered in a variety of ways (e.g., in rotation). The Content options for Grade 8 and Grade 9 differ from those in Grades 6 and 7 and may also be offered as modular rotations of varying length or as full-year courses. The flexible design allows teachers and students to personalize learning by making choices about what they design and make, and the depth and breadth to which both teachers and students choose to pursue a particular topic, based on students’ interests and passions.

For Grades 10 through 12, course options offer students opportunities to continue to explore, and/or to specialize in, an area of interest. These courses continue to draw on design thinking principles, but with greater depth and breadth.

Elaborations

Elaborations are included for many of the learning standards in the ADST curriculum. The elaborations take the form of explanations, definitions, and clarifications. They provide additional information and support for both teachers and students and can serve as potential places to begin teaching and learning. Examples of elaborations are shown below.

 

K

3

6

9

11
Metalwork

Curricular Competency

Decide on how and with whom to share their product

Make a product using known procedures or through modelling of others

Empathize with potential users to find issues and uncover needs and potential design opportunities

Identify criteria for success, intended impact, and any constraints

Engage in a period of user-centred research and empathetic observation to understand design opportunities

Elaboration

share: may include showing to others, use by others, giving away, or marketing and selling 

product: for example, a physical product, a process, a system, a service, or a designed environment

Empathize: share the feelings and understand the needs of others to inform design 

users: may include self, peers, younger children, family or community members, customers, plants, or animals 

constraints: limiting factors such as task or user requirements, materials, expense, environmental impact, issues of appropriation, and knowledge that is considered sacred

user-centred research: research done directly with potential users to understand how they do things and why, their physical and emotional needs,
how they think about the world, and what is meaningful to them

 

Core Competencies

As in all curricular areas, students use and develop the Core Competencies – Thinking (both Creative Thinking and Critical Thinking), Communication, and Personal and Social – through the Curricular Competencies, as shown in the ADST examples shown below.

 

K-3

4-5

6-8

9-10

11-12

Thinking

Generate ideas from their experiences and interests

Add to others’ ideas

Generate potential ideas and add to others’ ideas

Screen ideas
against the objective and constraints

Generate potential ideas and add to others’ ideas

Screen ideas against criteria and constraints

Take creative risks in generating ideas and add to others’ ideas in ways that enhance them

Critically analyze and prioritize competing factors, to meet community needs for preferred futures

Generate ideas and add to others’ ideas to create possibilities, and prioritize them for prototyping

Critically analyze how competing social, ethical, and sustainability considerations impact design

Communication

Demonstrate their product, tell the story of designing and making their product

Demonstrate their product and describe their process

Demonstrate their product and describe their process, using appropriate terminology and providing reasons for their selected solution and modifications

Demonstrate product providing a rationale for the selected solution, modifications, and procedures

Assess their ability to work effectively both as individuals and collaboratively in a group, including the ability to share and maintain an efficient co-operative workspace

Share progress while making to increase feedback, collaboration, and, if applicable, marketing

Assess ability to work effectively both as individuals and collaboratively while implementing project management processes

Personal and Social

Explain how their product contributes to the individual, family, community, and/or environment

Determine whether their product met the objective and contributes to the individual, family, community, and/or environment

Identify the personal,
social, and environmental impacts, including unintended negative consequences, of the choices they make about technology use

Evaluate impacts, including unintended negative consequences, of the choices made about technology use

Evaluate the influences of land, natural resources, and culture on the development and use of tools and technologies

Analyze the role technologies play in societal change

Examine how cultural beliefs, values, and ethical positions affect the development and use of technologies

Design thinking principles  

Ideas feed creative processes throughout everyday life. An idea might spark a new project or enhance a project midway through its development. Students experience this in all areas of learning, and in ADST it is most often associated with hands-on experiential learning.

The ADST curriculum re-imagines learning away from a single, sequential process, where teachers provide knowledge and students demonstrate that knowledge through creation of a project, and toward the processes of creativity, application, and problem-solving, where students build on what they already know and in turn discover new knowledge themselves.

The curriculum approaches the design thinking process through the curriculum organizers of Applied Design, Applied Skills, and Applied Technologies. The phases of Applied Design are described below:     

  • Understanding context – gathering data from multiple sources to determine what the user’s needs are, while considering both what is being requested and the user’s actual day-to-day processes; observing actual experiences as people go through their daily lives; empathizing with others and understanding their challenge(s). Often people cannot define for themselves what they need, as it has not yet been created.
  • Defining – looking for patterns and insights by articulating and defining the challenges and opportunities based on the findings from the data gathered; framing the point of view and defining the scope.
  • Ideating – experimenting and exploring possibilities to envision desired future(s); co-creating in multidisciplinary, diverse teams to make the ideas visible; testing competing ideas against one another to generate a bolder and more compelling outcome; determining what is feasible and viable about the ideas generated. What are the constraints? The ultimate goal is to provide a new solution to a problem that most didn’t know existed. The key is divergent thinking, which is a path to innovation, rather than an obstacle.
  • Prototyping – thinking big, acting small, and failing fast. This is the place and time to uncover unforeseen implementation challenges and unintended consequences on a smaller scale, and quickly, as part of the path to long-term success. It is part of the creative process, not a validation stage for finished ideas.
  • Testing – using the information gathered from the “failures” to re-imagine, reiterate, and refine the approach.
  • Making – conducting final testing, approvals, and launchings, with consideration for economics and factors of scale, time frames to and for production, technology needs, and other implementation points.
  • Sharing – creating communication strategies to disseminate the designed product or service to diverse stakeholders, both inside and outside the development sphere; iterating repeatedly based on feedback from those using the solution(s), adjusting when necessary. This is especially crucial when crossing language and cultural barriers. It is done throughout the cycle to reconfirm direction, not just at the end.

Kindergarten–Grade 3

The subheadings for Applied Design in Kindergarten to Grade 3 are simplified to the developmentally appropriate Ideating, Making, and Sharing. As young children do not typically define, prototype, and test as discernibly separate stages, the three stages of Applied Design at this level encompass all of the stages of design thinking principles that are identified at higher grade levels, but in a naturalistic and developmentally appropriate way.

Important considerations

Safety considerations

To ensure a safe learning environment, teachers should ask themselves the following questions before, during, and after an activity has taken place:

  • Are students aware of established rules and procedures for safety (e.g., hearing conservation, health procedures when working with materials and technologies, safe use of materials and technologies)?
  • Have the instructions been sequenced progressively to ensure safety?
  • Do students fully understand the instructions?
  • Is the activity suitable for each student’s interest, confidence, and ability?
  • Are students being properly supervised?
  • Are the facilities, equipment, and technologies suitable and in good repair?

Teachers are also encouraged to use professional safety reference guides, the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System, and similar orientation resources to support the safe use of materials and equipment in the learning environment. For examples of safety reference materials, see www.actsafe.ca.

Integrating First Peoples content and perspectives

The Ministry of Education is dedicated to ensuring that the cultures and contributions of First Peoples in British Columbia are reflected in all provincial curricula. The ADST curriculum is inclusive of modern and traditional First Peoples design, skills, and technologies. Students should have opportunities to learn from local First Peoples. This will require that both students and teachers understand appropriation issues and that some knowledge is considered sacred.

The First Peoples Principles of Learning have been affirmed within First Peoples societies to guide the teaching and learning of provincial curricula. Because these principles of learning represent an attempt to identify common elements in the varied teaching and learning approaches that prevail within particular First Peoples societies, it must be recognized that they do not capture the full reality of the approach used in any single First Peoples society.

The First Peoples Principles of Learning greatly influence the curricula and are woven throughout. They lend themselves well to the ADST curriculum, as they promote experiential and reflexive learning, as well as self-advocacy and personal responsibility in students. They also help create classroom experiences based on the concepts of community, shared learning, and trust, all of which are vital to a rich learning environment.

Working with First Peoples communities

To address First Peoples content and perspectives in the classroom in a way that is accurate and that respectfully reflects First Peoples concepts of teaching and learning, teachers are strongly encouraged to seek the advice and support of members of local First Peoples communities. As First Peoples communities are diverse in terms of language, culture, and available resources, each community will have its own unique protocol to gain support for integration of local knowledge and expertise. Permission for the use or translation of cultural materials or practices should be obtained through consultation with individuals, families, and other community members. This authorization should be obtained prior to the use of any educational plans or materials.

To begin discussion about possible instructional and assessment activities, teachers should first contact First Peoples education coordinators, teachers, support workers, and counsellors in their district who will be able to facilitate the identification of local resources and contacts, such as Elders, chiefs, First Nations tribal or band councils, First Peoples cultural centres, First Peoples friendship centres, and Métis or Inuit organizations. In addition, teachers may wish to consult the various Ministry of Education publications available, including the “Planning Your Program” section of the resource Shared Learnings. This resource was developed to help all teachers provide students with knowledge of, and opportunities to share experiences with First Peoples in B.C.