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Teaching salient features of complex technological systems

Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet)
Författare Maria Svensson
Åke Ingerman
Anders Berglund
Shirley Booth
Jonas Emanuelsson
Publicerad i Presented at WALS 2013, Göteborg, September 2013
Publiceringsår 2013
Publicerad vid Institutionen för didaktik och pedagogisk profession
Språk en
Ämneskategorier Utbildningsvetenskap, Didaktik


In the world we live in there are powerful broad frameworks for understanding specific objects, relationships and events. One such focused in this action research project is Technological Systems, which are complex systems of technical and human components that facilitate much of the experienced needs of modern society. Technological systems are constituted of transformation and transport, acting on matter, energy and information. Teaching technology in Swedish compulsory schools implies supporting students aged 13-15 to grasp some of the systemic aspects of contemporary society such as internet (information), water supply system (matter) and the power grid (energy). Such elements are emphasised in the current curriculum. However, what are the salient features of such an understanding is not well understood. This poster reports on experiences of a teaching design spanning four lessons addressing this. The design is based both on recent educational research and technology teacher experiences, partly framed with variation theory. There is four identified salient features: resource – What the system acts on, in terms of matter, energy and information, intention – What can be identified as the system’s intended function, internal structure – How the systems is organised in terms of components, framework of relationships and human agency, external structure – How the system is organised in terms of how it interacts with the surrounding world, such as other technological, natural and social systems. The teaching design explicitly has the ambition to address the expressions of complex systems in different contexts, and supporting that students discern that it is meaningful to see what to them may appear as unrelated events as elements constituting a system. The first lesson addresses this starting in students’ morning habits, relating this to resource and intention in the associated technological systems. The second lesson focuses the interrelated aspects of systems through investigating breakdowns in system components, and thus the constitution of the internal structure. The third lesson focus representations and visualisations of the system, furthering the internal structure. The fourth lesson brings out the interaction with society (external structure) and the evolving aspects of systems in a historical and futuristic perspective. The design has been developed through two cycles of planning, actualisation and evaluation. The design is evaluated through group discussion and analysis of video and audio data from the classroom and from student interviews, as well as documentation of student tasks.

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