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Hello and welcome to our presentation. We are going to use the next 20 minutes to talk to you about a study into teaching Smart Fashion – or interactive product design.
So first off: why did we do this? Well we work in England and as you may or may not be aware, the curriculum has been reformed with a goal of modernisation and a move for teachers to teach as multi-material specialists. Smart fashion is about the integration of electronics and computation within a garment that can be worn on the body – meaning different functionality to traditional electronics taught in school e.g. it needs to be flexible and more technologies used which include flexible conductive fabrics, thread, small component parts. So the question, how is this type of curriculum being taught in school? Well we can see that textiles teachers are promoting the convergence of electronics and textiles, however, we feel that this is limited to expensive electronic kits combined with existing textile projects e.g. lighting the eyes on an ugly doll. In conversation with one of the team from the Subject Association recently, we sensed a feeling that e-textiles undermined dominating electronics but the nature is subtler in that the electronics dominates the textiles because the concept of flexible computation is not being exploited. So we manged to get some ERDF funding to team up with a local electronic component manufacturer to design resources to improve current e-textile teaching. It is important that any resources we create have integrity and promote the concept of electronic systems within the context of fashion. This presentation is about the evaluation we undertook to test our resources quality.
So, first we needed to identify the best way to learn the components of Smart fashion, which straight away means learning about electronic systems and how the structure of the system is dependent on the components. ….. Now this type of learning is said to be complex/abstract and difficult. This might be why our textile teachers prefer the pre-made kits option? So, we looked at the stuff Seymore Papert has written about learning computation. Constructionism and the idea of using objects to make abstract knowledge concrete. We also came across research carried out at MIT into the creation of soft components. Perner-Wilson and Buecheley (2013) refer to these as ‘a kit of no parts’ encouraging adult and teenage makers to construct switches and battery holders that expose the functionality of the materials – striping it back, so to say. This type of technology ‘laid bare’ enables learners to see what might be inside the black box, giving textile electronics an edge over traditional components.
So from this research we created a set of resources: a simple circuit tinkering kit a multimetre activity a soft switch kit a battery holder kit a set of exemplar Smart Fashion products
We then trialled these resources with a group of six teachers, through a professional development workshop held in April 2015
We set up a flexible design to collect the data for this part of the bigger case study. Qualitative data was collected from three of the teaching resources and interview transcripts created during a stimulated recall session set up at the end of the work shop
We wanted to build on existing research in order to give our evaluation rigor. So we looked at Jenny Rode working out of So looking at the resources and so in order to make this rigorous we For the deductive analysis used an emerging framework from Rhodes et al. In the framework they identified five factors in successful computational making teaching with teenagers in the States: aesthetics creativity constructing visualising multiple representations and understanding materials we used the factors as codes for our analysis, recording when instances of the framework occurred and interpreting this data against the descriptions.
We recorded instances of themes within each resource and then compared these to the teacher interviews to see how the teachers had responded to the activity.
We are aware that our sample is small and so far we have only tested with teachers and not the pupils.
From this data we can see how the activities might provide opportunities for learners to experience and potentially understand Smart Fashion materials and components. This extends the Rode et al (2015) framework to include component understanding alongside materials. The teachers understood how the components interconnected and impacted on the circuit functionality (Peppler et al, 2013) this is essential knowledge for the types of design decisions that are required to design and make flexible Smart Fashion objects that will ultimately be worn next to the body.
From the data we can see that through the range of making skills, including the construction of pockets and encasing conductive fabric within pouches, the resources provide opportunities to support learners with the skills they need to house electronic circuit within Smart Fashion objects. However, opportunities to practice skills related to using conductive thread on the sewing machine are limited. Teacher D, identifies potential barriers to using the thread which supports the concern Ngai et al. (2010) pinpointed when describing the need to remove sewing from the initial stage of making.
From this study we can start to see that these teaching resources have the potential to support learners in developing an understanding of what e-textiles are and how they can be made. This understanding can then be applied, at a later date, through the designing and making of Smart Fashion products. For these teaching resources to be of quality they need to include opportunities for: abstract problem solving, the development of material and component understanding, experiences in construction techniques required for this kind of hybrid activity (integrated electronics and textiles), the visualisation of circuits, simple and advanced and group work to support competition and team work.
The next steps in the research project will involve testing the remaining resources with teachers and conducting further enquiry into the social, creative and aesthetic aspects of e-textile learning.
How to teach ‘Smart Fashion’
within the D&T curriculum: have
we got it right?
SARAH DAVIES & ALISON HARDY
NOTTINGHAM TRENT UNIVERSITY
what do others say about teaching
involves recognising the elements that structure a system, and, more important, the
ways that those elements interconnect to impact each other and the overall function of
Peppler et al, (2013, p. 21)
Papert and Harel (1991)
Kit of no parts
Perner-Wilson and Buecheley (2013)
simple circuit make a soft switch make a soft battery holder
what data did we use?
oteaching handouts and kit components – documentary analysis
ostimulated recall transcripts - interview
Rode et al (2015) framework.
young people desire to make aesthetically pleasing artefacts, however, these complex decisions can
hinder a participant’s creativity; sometimes aesthetic choices override decisions about the right solution ;
these aesthetic choices give young people “design agency”
creativity can be a factor in problem solving within e-textiles – ‘an abstract problem solving mechanism’
and/or creativity can support free expression within e-textiles – ‘concrete and tangible skill building’
young people need the skills to be able to produce tangible objects this includes physical skills:
- using pliers,
- wire strippers and other hand-tools.
acquisition of skills, impact on the young person’s realisation of artefacts from preparation to final
outcome weak execution of stitching can lead to short circuits
visualising 2D designs into 3D objects can be a challenge
there is a need for young people to understand why they have to follow the 2D representations into real
world 3D representations
young people need to understand how different materials operate that objects, for example crocodile
clips, have the same properties as conductive thread issues associated with short circuiting
CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK 7
Opportunities: teacher interviews
They talked about how the coin cell differed from their tradition counterpart (pen cell) ; positive side
“curled around the edge” (Teacher A Line 180)
Creativity - abstract problem solving
working in teams was good for “sharing ideas and working together as a team” (Line 169) to solve
early sequence of activity “built my confidence up straight away”
Visualising multiple representations
The teachers talk about “undoing” (Teacher C, line 69) and re-doing the circuit through the clipping and “quick
to unclip” nature of the crocodile clips (Teacher E, line 31).
Teacher A discusses how the LED gives her instant feedback when she says that “it is easy to see if you are
doing it right or wrong because the end objective, the goal, to get the LED to light up isn’t working” (Line 168).
helpful for developing the construction skills (required to make Smart Fashion)
thread was “not easy to work with” (Teacher D Line 231).
“it’s always nice, isn’t it, to have something physical especially when you have done it yourself” (Line
FINDINGS AND ANALYSIS 10
what have we found out?
• Problem solving – creativity
• 2D/3D – visualising multi representations
• conductive/non-conductive properties - material (and component) understanding,
• Team working
Need to build on:
• experiences with conductive thread (hand and machine) - constructing
• Free expression – creativity
what will we do next?
Develop next iteration of the resources
- develop Smart Fashion teaching resources - programming
test the remaining resources with teachers
follow up interviews with teachers about use in classroom
thank you for listening
Nottingham Trent University
+44 (0)115 8482644
Nottingham Trent University
+44 (0)115 848 2198
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