Making the processes of design explicit within an information technology environment

Year: 2001

Author: Stein, Sarah, Docherty, Michael, Hannam, Rachel

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In this paper, technology is described as involving processes whereby resources are utilised to satisfy human needs or to take advantage of opportunities, to develop practical solutions to problems. This study, set within one type of technology context, information technology, investigated how, through a one semester undergraduate course, elements of technological processes were made explicit to students. While it was acknowledged in the development and implementation of this course that students needed to learn technical skills, technological skills and knowledge, including design, were seen as vital also, to enable students to think about information technology from a perspective that was not confined and limited to "technology as hardware and software". This paper describes how the course, set within a three year program of study, was aimed at helping students to develop their thinking and their knowledge about design processes in an explicit way. An interpretive research approach was used and data sources included a Repertory Grid "survey"; student interviews; video recordings of classroom interactions, audio recordings of lectures, observations of classroom interactions made by researchers; and artefacts which included students’ journals and portfolios. The development of students’ knowledge about design practices is discussed and reflections upon student knowledge development in conjunction with their learning experiences are made. Implications for ensuring explicitness of design practice within information technology contexts are presented, and the need to identify what constitutes design knowledge is argued.