Technology

1994/11/01 Rodriguez Ibabe, Jose Maria Iturria: Elhuyar aldizkaria

Within technology very different views can be considered. One of them, perhaps the most unknown and to which too much importance is attributed, is the teaching of technology. In many cases, the procedures and techniques developed for the teaching of technology are not usually very worked and in practice problems always arise (although technology evolves in the workshops, their teaching changes much more slowly, explaining the imbalance between both).

For a few years this problem, in my opinion, is becoming more serious. That said, we must take into account the systematic use of computer science. Thanks to computer science, some complex calculations and predictions that were not previously possible, both at the design level and in the use of a component or structure, are now practically systematic. Thanks to this, the design has improved significantly and the calculations are now much more accurate than the previous ones. Along with this positive aspect, we cannot forget other new problems that have been raised in the use of computing. These new problems are based on inadequate use of computing. In some cases they can occur in production centers, but they are largely relevant in the teaching of technology.

By developing programs and different types of software, the authors of these programs, in addition to computing, master and understand well the physical bases of the problems they are dealing with. At the teaching level, this requirement is often not met properly. The teacher strives and may use enough time to teach the student how to use a specific program. In this situation, the physical models and foundations that were taken into account on more than one occasion when creating the program, are in the background in the teaching process, in which the perspectives of the program are not so important to the teachers. Consequently, the models that were taken into account in the development of the program established limits of use of it, which for the student are totally unknown. Therefore, the student considers the tool developed to facilitate calculations as a complete reality, always suitable for any application.

In this sense, totally wrong behaviors are observed. On the one hand, if the results obtained after the use of the program do not conform to reality, the student sees the imperfection of reality and it never occurs to him that the program has some limits and that it cannot be applied in any case (if we make another type of comparison, if the theory “big bang” is not fulfilled, the universe is “wrong”). On the other hand, although the results are a barbarity, no one questions these results by the contribution of the program.

These two behaviors appear daily in the world of technology teaching. To overcome it, it is necessary to show the student that the computer is the tool and that he must understand and master well the physical basis of the problem he wants to calculate. This goal cannot be achieved if the same teacher does not master it. If these requirements are not met, the student is teaching surrealism rather than technology. As a result, the gap between the technology used in the workshops and the topics taught in the classrooms can be growing.