Supporting design and technology education at high schools in China through the integration of social networking and computational design techniques

Pao Yue-kong Library Electronic Theses Database

Supporting design and technology education at high schools in China through the integration of social networking and computational design techniques

 

Author: Jiang, Hao
Title: Supporting design and technology education at high schools in China through the integration of social networking and computational design techniques
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2013
Subject: Technology -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- China.
Educational technology.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: School of Design
Pages: xv, 247 p. : col. ill. ; 30 cm.
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2652767
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/7240
Abstract: Social networking has developed at great speed in the last two decades in China and an estimated 485 million people in China now use social network sites for social and professional purposes. Among this population is a substantial portion of teenagers looking for social networking sites to facilitate a better education, but most of these teenagers are distracted by games and other online entertainments that affect their study. Although some popular social networking sites, such as QZone and Renren, have attracted 190 million and 95 million people in China, respectively, there is a lack of good social networking sites aiming to help teenage students to learn subjects that can nurture their creative thinking and ability to make design objects, which is an area of education in the Chinese educational system that has been considered weak and inadequate in the past. Chinese education at the high-school level represents one of the most demanding curriculums in the world for students, with strong competition for limited university places at the center of educational purposes, but with little emphasis on creative and innovative design thinking and making abilities. It was only in 2005 that China started to introduce the subject of "Design and Technology" into high-school curriculums, with several pilot schools chosen in the city of Nanjing. While the students at high-school level lack sufficient training in design-related subjects, an increasingly large number of universities are rushing to establish design schools and design programmes. There is inconsistency in the building up of a coherent link between high schools and universities in the training for creative thinking and practical design skills. As a result, many students who have aspirations to become designers do not have sufficient knowledge to fulfil the entry requirements for design schools, whilst many parents still have the perception that drawing and painting skills are the only talents needed for their children to enter design schools or the design profession. Almost all the high schools in Chinese cities now employ sufficient and sometimes powerful computers to facilitate teaching and learning activities. These, however, have been limited to no more than document processing. In terms of the teaching and learning in the subject of Design and Technology, few guidelines or introductions exist for students and teachers to engage in an interactive and collaborative environment as they work through a design project. There is a lack of computational support either from within the schools or from an outside service provider to provide effective teaching materials for the students to engage in design-related subjects in the fashion of social networking. However, the students do spend a large amount of time outside teaching hours on the development of various personal interests.
This thesis looks into the problems facing Chinese high schools in developing creative and practical design skills effectively for their students amid teenagers' booming interest in Internet and social networking activities. It investigates how a transition is taking place among Chinese high schools from a traditional art approach to design to a more integrated approach to design and embracing technology and computing, and how such a change in the trends of both schools and students is affecting design education at the university level. Various scenarios are investigated involving the curriculum developers at the national level, social networking developers, and in particular the teachers and students at several high schools in two cities in China, i.e., Shenzhen and Nanjing. These investigations follow several taught subjects in Design and Technology and explore their implications for design education in China in wide social, cultural, and historic contexts. Based on these investigations, a theoretical framework for a web-based design teaching system in the style of social networking is proposed, emphasizing four features of design interaction: innovative, collaborative, intellective, and interactive. This framework identifies the basic techniques and design features to make an education-related social networking site effective and affective for students and teachers. This framework is developed based on an analysis of the profiles of those students and teachers investigated during two field trips to Nanjing. This framework has been tested among these students and teachers. This research makes an original contribution to the field of design education and social networking by presenting a comprehensive study of how Chinese students at the high-school level are being educated in terms of creative thinking and design ability, and the implications for design education in China as a whole. This research also demonstrates a prototype for a new social networking framework for design education at high schools in China, which represents insights into and guidelines on how computational techniques can be utilized for the development of social networking sites, facilitating better interaction and collaboration among students and teachers in the teaching and learning of design-related subjects in creative domains, with more appropriate use of new technology.

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