PATT is a series of conferences focusing on technology education worldwide. Pupils in school are the future generation of citizens living in a technological world. Therefore it is important that they are technologically literate. Pupils need to get a good image of technological professions for them to become realistic options for a career choice later in life. Educational research in this area focuses on investigating the type of education that can best be developed, taught and assessed.
The opening of the Conference, by conference organiser Dr Sarah Pulé, was followed by a the speech of the Minister for Education and Employment, the Hon. Evarist Bartolo. He emphasised the importance of good education in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education for the future of all countries, including Malta. The Minister's speech was followed by that of UM Rector, Professor Alfred Vella and then by the Dean of the Faculty of Education, Dr Colin Calleja. They, too, stressed the need for technology education for all pupils, including those pupils who prefer hands-on learning.
More than 40 research studies were presented at the Conference. These presentations dealt with various aspects of technology education and a variety of questions were addressed: how pupils can get to know the true nature of technology, how curricula can be developed to reflect that true nature, how technology can become attractive to different genders, how creativity is stimulated through technology education.
The programme included a number of presentations on technology education in Malta. The international participants greatly appreciated the efforts made here to develop education in Technical Design & Technology. The exhibition of students' design, set up at the Conference, gave the participants the opportunity to go through some of the learning outcomes of students in the teacher education programme at UM. Educating teachers for technical design and technology is crucial for the well-functioning of the subject taught in schools.
During the closing session of the conference, Dr Marc de Vries, Chairperson of the Foundation responsible for the international series of PATT conferences, recommended that the University should cherish the small group providing Design & Technology teacher education and to strengthen its position; this is currently rather vulnerable due to the low staff numbers. The Conference was attended by researchers and teacher educators from the USA, Canada, Australia, South-Africa, India, Israel and a range of European countries (Finland, Sweden, Estonia, the UK, the Netherlands, to mention a few).
The international PATT Conference, held at the University of Malta, was definitely an important event in bringing to the fore the development of Design and Technology education, both in Malta and around the globe.