Hi there,

I came across a great question in the OCC IB DT forum and thought it worthwhile discussing here – whether the Diploma Design Technology course should ensure that students are involved in the making and manufacture of a product?

With the recent change in syllabus the guide states the following, and I suppose the question is whether this is educationally sound for student not to manufacture their product in whatever form:

“Students are not required to manufacture their own prototype; however, they do require a prototype of their design in order to evaluate and test it when addressing criterion D. Students are encouraged to manufacture their own prototype; however, this can be outsourced. The prototype must be of sufficient quality so that it can be tested against the design and marketing specifications. Students may require more than one prototype to test fully.

This questions can be looked at from many points of view including :-

  • The IB wishes to ensure equality of access for their courses and especially the Design Technology course. Many new schools or ones with limited resources cannot and do not have large amounts of equipment or the workshop that they are able to give students the opportunity to make. This makes sense then that maybe students can get prototypes externally produced – although it could be argued that prototypes can be made and modelled with basic materials and tools?
  • Another argument is that technologies such as lasercutters, printers etc have taken the manufacturing element away from students already – how many students now use dovetail joints to create a product. Is it not unfair that students in schools with large amounts of resources can get their product prototyped on this machinery – but not really personally manufactured and others cannot?
  • A final point maybe that the bove tools and machinery now in the real and actual world of design of products has taken the hands on manufacture away from real designers already – so why educate students in this way. Although many may argue that the understanding and working with materials and tools at an earlier age does really help students later design and produce products?


It is interesting on the OCC a teacher has spotted that the TSM contains the following quote, and the provocation is that does this not argue against the way the recent DP IB Design Technology course has gone –

“Practical work is a vital and integral part of the design technology course, providing students with experience of investigative activities within and outside the classroom. It enables them to develop a wide range of skills such as inquiry, design generation and development, manipulative skills, data processing and analysis, evaluation, teamwork and communication. The opportunity to undertake investigation activities, hands-on experimentation and field research allows them to engage in many of the processes encountered by designers, and to appreciate the nature of design thinking and inquiry.”

Interesting discussion and one that I think is not easily answered, but maybe with the next review process can be looked at closely to ensure that new technologies are embraced, and equality of access thought about – but students are required in some form or other to prototype their own work? How this is to be assessed is another question!