Kitronik wanted NTU to help identify products that could be used to support the new Design and Technology National Curriculum, to help inform which products to focus on marketing to secondary schools.
- Kitronik Ltd manufacture retail electronic components for the education and hobbyist market. A key area of their business is their Electro-Fashion range, components for use in e-textile sewing products. This has met a growing market from secondary schools seeking to modernise their curriculum content.
- The company wanted to reach a greater audience and meet teacher needs in regards to the national curriculum.
- 110 hours of direct support was made available through NTU's working with you… project, part funded by the ERDF. This provided NTU expertise to develop new curriculum content and test it in focus group settings.
- The project set out to provide a new growth strategy for Kitronik in relation to existing and future product development and support for teachers of Design and Technology in the use of electronic components to embed in textile products.
- Nottingham based Kitronik Ltd was founded in 2005.
- The company has joined together design, technology, electronics, e-textiles, and education through the products and resources they offer.
- They currently sell to over 3,500 schools in the UK, Japan, Australia and USA.
For more information, visit the Kitronik website.
A new National Curriculum for England requires schools to increase the use of electronics and advocates an integrated approach across different material areas. An example of this is combining textiles and electronics – known as e-textiles.
Budget cuts mean there is little opportunity for teachers to attend professional development courses to gain new expertise in this growing curriculum content. Time to learn to write new curriculum materials is limited.
Kitronik are well placed to respond to these challenges. They have been developing e-textile products under the Electro-Fashion label, as well as on-line resources to support teachers with their new products. They approached NTU for help to strengthen and grow their position in the sector.
Kitronik wanted NTU to help identify which of their current products and new product ideas could be used to support the new design and technology curriculum, to help inform which products to focus on marketing to secondary schools.
The company also wanted NTU to gather information about the training needs of Design and Technology teachers in order for them to cover e-textiles in their lessons. This included developing new curriculum materials, teacher guides, pupil resources, website case studies and online training materials. These are designed to help teachers use Kitronik products to support the implementation of the new National Curriculum.
Kitronik were offered free support via NTU's business support project, working with you … This was provided by NTU's School of Education, from academics Alison Hardy and Sarah Davies.
The first task was to audit Kitronik‘s Electro-Fashion products against the new Design and Technology curriculum. This allowed the project to focus on marketing opportunities for existing and potential new product ideas.
Next the academics explored the capabilities of some of Kitronik's e-textile components through the making of soft electronic samples. This identified that they are well placed to support teachers with the delivery of the new National Curriculum, with 16 products in their Electro-Fashion range meeting curriculum learning outcomes.
To gather information about teachers training needs, NTU commissioned BA (Hons) Childhood Studies students to investigate how textile teachers use the products purchased from Kitronik. The teachers interviewed felt that they had enough knowledge to teach e-textiles but identified the need for further training.
In response to the information gathered, NTU delivered an e-textiles teacher training event. A range of pupil resources was created to offer training that supported teacher knowledge for developing e-textile curriculum. During the workshop the teachers piloted pupil resources, and the curriculum guide, to support their understanding of the Electro-Fashion product range.
Using existing research from the Centre for Design and Technology Education at NTU, the team adapted the curriculum resources based on feedback from the training event. They created Beta online training materials, including e-textile tutorials and pupil friendly worksheets, to launch the National Curriculum on the Kitronik website.
Kitronik were presented with reports recommending strategy for providing support to Design and Technology teachers who purchase their e-textile components and identifying ranking of their products in meeting National Curriculum needs.
In September 2015, Kitronik will launch a series of Kitronik University e-textile tutorials including video and written step-by-step guides to support teachers with the delivery of this new and exciting area of the curriculum.
There is the potential for bidding for further projects with the Design and Technology Association and TeachDesign. These two organisation provide D&T subject support in schools through consultants such as academics at the Centre for Design and Technology Education at NTU.
An additional benefit of the collaboration with NTU is the raised profile of Kitronik though blogs, case studies, and a planned academic research paper at an international conference.