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H. Jiang, M.X. Tang

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HONG KONG)
Design and Technology became a subject of curriculum in high schools in China five years ago. There have been many problems facing the schools, teachers and instructors in terms of how to understand the significance of this subject and how to deliver it in the most efficient way, making use of the available technology while learning the useful experiences from other countries who have successfully built up research and platforms to support the education of this subject. Many teachers are now getting training by local educational authorities to use multimedia based equipments in teaching and courseware development. The students now in high schools in China were born after 1990s and as such they have distinctively different characteristics and they live in fast evolving environments that their previous generations have never been able to experience. That is, they are overwhelmingly involved in computer games and Internet socialization. However, uncontrolled access to the Internet and social networks without proper choices of the contents can distract their energy and damage their creative thinking. To solve this problem, a way is to integrate design based education with social networking so that opportunities can be given to the students at high school level to develop their creative thinking while encouraging them to engage in healthy social networking with educational values that enable talent development and creative behavior. In this paper, we considered a dedicated web-based architecture integrated with social networking sites to support the teachers and students who are engaged in the teaching and learning process on the subject of Design and Technology. We conducted extensive reviews among high school design teachers and students, in order to establish how social networking is affecting their teaching and learning activities on design related subjects. Based on this review, we proposed a framework/platform for design and technology teachers to connect with their intended students via a social network based system that enables collaborative design and collaborative learning. Taking the subject of Design and Technology as an example, it is even more difficult for the teachers or school administrators to develop advanced networking facilities targeting at the education of this creative subject which combines learning and practice.The features of this system are derived from our analyses of profiles and behaviors of design teachers and students in several schools and universities in Nanjing in mainland China. In such a framework communication, education, and interaction are supported through creative problem solving and social networking involving both the students and teachers. Our system facilitates interactions that are commonly seen in a collaborative design process, with design knowledge, interfaces and visualization methods integrated to attract and provide support to design teachers as well as the students in their activities. Communication, exploration and negotiation of design ideas and solutions are better facilitated with this system which makes the subject of design and technology an attractive teaching and learning experiences. In this paper, we present the results of our analysis and our system framework, as well as our plan to engage the students and teachers in their teaching and learning activities through which our proposal is to be evaluated.