Brain rapidly rewires to help us use tools

 Click here to expand information for this research

Don Ihde proposed in his seminal work "Technics and Praxis' (1979) that there is a logical relationship between the design telos of tools and instruments and the perception of the user of those tools. One of Idhe's propositions back then was the idea that tools have a logical developmental telos, and natural goal to become seamless extensions of ourselves to the point where a good tool would be perceived as 'invisible' to the user, as if it was an organic part of the body.

Well this (see link below) neuroscience research offers validation to that proposition.  Drawn from work by Dr Eiichi Naito, of the “National Institute of Information and Communications Technology in Kyoto, and colleagues”  the way the brain maps visual cues to body representation is a key insight to how teaching this aspect of Design and Technology education could be better informed.  Visual imagery and videos of the same, are critical stimuli for tool skill and knowledge development.

Technacy genre theory, having emerged from works such as Ihde, also accommodates this position.  You will note that a genre necessarily involves a relationship between the tool system, the agent or user, and the material being transformed.


Ihde. D. (1979) Technics and Praxis. D. Rcidcl: Dordrccht and Boston. MA.  

Hagura N, Hirose1 S, Matsumura M and Naito E (2012) ‘Am I seeing my hand? Visual appearance and knowledge of controllability both contribute to the visual capture of a person's own body’, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2012.0750,  [accessed 30 May 2012

The Technacy Chart Project Report

This Report "Linking Desert Knowledge with Pedagogy Research for Middle School Curriculum" summarises ground breaking work by teachers and students 2006-2008. It was funded jointly by the:

  • Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre ($20,000)
  • Australian School Innovation in Science, Technology and Mathematics Project  (ASISTM) funded by the Australian Government ($79,300)
  • Southern Cross Univeristy - inkind research and development

The report reveals a high demand for this resource to become live and remain accessible as an on going program of development for the teaching community.  

NEXT BIG THING: To their merit as one of Australia's most innovative professional teacher associations, the DATTA Victoria group are using this work to conduct a series of Professional Development Workshops that began with the Thinker OnlIne , Thinker On-Hand program. The workshops form part of the DATTA Vic's interest in evolving a resource on line for all teachers in Technacy Genre theory and assessment strategies.  The feedback to date on these workshops, from both beginning and well experience technology teachers  have been excellent, with the desire to grow the program and skill up teachers to teach other teachers in the same. This latter initiative has been called the Open Focus project of DATTAVic

Cross cultural technacy research

This internationally peer reviewed book chapter discussed the link between culture, technology and values. Publisher is UNESCO, Springer.

Click here:  Technacy Chapter in Springer

Or here for preprint copy.

Research Journals

Australia's University sector has ranked all known and registered research journals world wide; in 2010 the ERA ranked 20,712 journals. There are no Australian journals ranked for Design and Technology (D&T) Education, and world wide there are no A* (A-Star top ranking) research journals either. The D&T field does have a few journals of note. This subject area is in need of both more research journals being listed, as well as more ranked in the A and A* top tier classification of scholarship if the future of the subject is to be secured.

Please bookmark these few research journals listed below, and lobby your professional associations to both create and rank more in D&T world wide, as well as to proactively invest in PhD graduate programs that target D&T education research. Rank A* (0x): Globally, there are no top tier quality Research Journals in Design and Technology Education.
Rank A (1x): International Journal of Technology and Design Education (Rank in 2009 was 'A*', in 2010 dropped to 'A')
Rank B (2x)Journal of Technology Education (Rank in 2009 'A', by 2010 dropped to 'B'); and, theJournal of Design and Technology Education

Research Conference

In 2010, the ERA could not identify to minimum research standards any research conferences in Design and Technology Education Research. This is another issue that ought be raised as a concern by all in this profession. However, a few D&T Research Conferences worthy of professional engagement include:

Australian: Technology Education Research Conference (TERCInternational: PATT/CRIPT; Technological Learning & Thinking (TLT) at UBC; North American Links not oriented to D&T Research but focussed on STEM is ITEEA.

Professional Events/Associations of Note (Australia)

Design and Technology Teachers Association Victoria (DATTA-Vic)
Design and Technology Teachers Association Australia (DATTA-Oz)