Jari M. Lavonen, Veijo P. Meisalo and Matti Lattu
In 1995, the authors started the Empirica Control for Technology Education (ECTE) project in the Department of Teacher Education at the University of Helsinki with the purpose of widening the possibilities for creative problem solving in technology education. First, an icon-oriented visual programming tool was developed to teach computer control technology, along with an appropriate computer interface. Authors developed the new programming tool to minimize the need for direct guidance from the teacher and to reduce the need for rote memorization of programming rules. It was also designed to allow for constructive and creative activities by the students. Along with the software and hardware, handbooks for creative problem solving in control technology were written and in-service training was organized to support teachers in their efforts to develop creative problem solving through technology education programs in Finnish comprehensive schools.
The development of this new computer control system led to an interest among the authors in finding out how pupils learn the basics of control technology and programming and how they creatively solve problems within the context of computer control.