What methodological principles can help students and other teachers approaching digital fabrication?

To answer this question, teachers from four European countries got together and carried out a series of workshops, groupwork exercises and open discussions on the innovative Design Circle developed by the Aarhus University.

In Tilburg (NL) from 28th of May to June 1st, teachers met up for the fourth Fablab transnational teacher training event and also the partners came together for a transnational meeting.

The focus of the last teacher training event lied on the evaluation of the project and had a hands-on approach. The first day at the Theresialyceum, the participating school of the Dutch Partner, revolved around analyzing the experiences gathered by the teachers so far in working with the design circle developed by the Aarhus University. They focused especially on the Fabrication, Argumentation and Reflection stages of the circle. Much attention lied also on the recently concluded twinning phase especially in terms of lesson learned and challenges faced. This aimed at understanding what students and teachers might need to make a success out of the twinning in terms of learning outcomes.

The following day, teachers’ work has been the identification and development of pedagogical principles drawing from the outcomes of the previous day activities as well as past experiences with the design circle. Teachers also identified success criteria and challenges from both a teacher’s and student’s perspectives for each and every phase of the design circle. Afterwards teachers went for a school visit at the Theresialyceum and its lab area.

Lesson plans were the main topic of the third day workshop activities. Later on, in the day, teachers visited the Textilemuseum which hosts a Textilefab. Previously a Textile Factory, the museum not only hosts design and art exhibitions, but has also become an innovation center in which professionals and students learn and experiment about innovative techniques and technologies applicable to fabric materials supported by product developers and technical experts.

Activities went on with a workshop in which teachers, together with some master students of industrial design, co-created an assessment matrix to evaluate students learning outcomes and progresses.

During the last day, teachers finalized their work on the lesson plans and then went through an open discussion on what has been done in the past few days. Then visited ontdekstation013, a center built in an ancient wagon storage building. Now the place is an open lab for children and adults to learn about Technology, STEM and digital design. Teachers listened a presentation of the center and then got the chance to try out some of the workshops. A group of teachers carried out an exercise which involved electrician skills and another group made art with digital canvasses.

Meanwhile partners got together and discussed the final arrangements to be made for the production of the project outputs. These will be:

  • The manual that will present and combine all the work done by teachers and partners.
  • the methodological principles, which after a year of testing and developing are now collected and ready to be put together.
  • The policy recommendations, on how to adapt the fablab technology and teaching methodology in schools.

Partners also discussed the necessary arrangements for the Final conference which will be held in Palermo next Fall to present the project results to a wide range of school education stakeholders and policy makers.