Design & Technology Online
What is it?

D&T Online is a World Wide Web site offering free access to a wide range of design and technology (D&T) materials, resources and software for pupils to use as they engage in design and technology activities as part of the UK National Curriculum. The content is currently targeted at Key Stages 3 and 4 although some aspects will also appeal to Key Stage 2 children. In addition, some sections will be relevant to science and mathematics as well as design and technology.

D&T Online is a safe site for children: all materials have been provided freely by teachers and there are no links to any other Internet sites. The service is under continuous development - comments and/or contributions from serving teachers are always welcome. You can contact us by emailing

Who is running it?

The server for these facilities has been kindly provided by Vital Online in Harrogate, software engineering is provided by Dial Solutions Ltd and the National Association of Advisers and Inspectors in Design and Technology (NAAIDT) co-ordinates contributions and edits all curriculum content. D&T Online started out as a pilot scheme instigated by the NAAIDT and Dial Solutions Ltd with initial start-up funding from the TEP. It has now grown and enjoys the support of all the major Design and Technology organisations, including DATA, Nuffield and the RCA as well as Education Online, NCET (now BECTa) and DfEE.

What does it offer?

Ultimately, D&T Online aims to provide, free at the point of use, a substantial information base for use by pupils which is generated by teachers and educationalists and is geared specifically to Design and Technology education in the UK. As development continues, all D&T focus areas will be included - textiles and structures are in preparation.

But D&T is not just about researching information for its own sake - it is fundamentally about using information to help design and make real products which can be tested in use. D&T Online offers a range of facilities to help in these areas.

Online manufacture

D&T Online allows schools to share expensive equipment and to make use of manufacturing facilities they would not normally have access to. A simple Template system, developed by D&T Online, allows pupils to have components manufactured remotely on CNC machines, vinyl cutters, large format colour printers and so on, whilst only paying for materials and postage (follow links to Manufacturing Projects). Contributing schools and colleges issue Templates which define the stock sizes and machining limitations of a variety of materials associated with exemplar D&T projects (a sheet of A4 paper could be described as a Template for use in a standard printer and the sample project an A4 side of text and graphics to make a pamphlet - how many interesting ways can you fold a single sheet of A4 paper). Students add their own designs within the confines of the Template and e-mail the drawings created to a site offering the required machining operation.

Interactive design tools

Using D&T Online on ANY type of computer, students can design products within a Web browser and have access to information on design elements as the work proceeds. At any stage, all graphics and text can be saved or copied to be used in the creation of project reports for example. Once completed, designs can be saved in common file formats for further work or exported directly to a manufacturing process.

The first area to be developed was Electronics. Powerful software at the server means that circuits can be designed then viewed as schematics, component overlays, pictorial views or PCBs. Information on all components used is available and design changes can be made at any stage during the designing process. Finished PCB designs are printed out at full size for etching, or tracks can be cut directly into copper clad board using a milling machine or engraver. The same output file can be used also to drill automatically the PCBs.

The Packaging section now includes a parametric CAD package (follow links to Packaging Designer). A wide variety of standard packaging nets and patterns for folded card products can be loaded into the designer to be modified for a particular purpose. The special feature of a parametric design tool is that any single size can be changed and the software will make all necessary adjustments to other dimensions to ensure the net still folds up correctly.

How can it do this without special software?

By using software at the server, we can enable your Web browser to do a lot of exciting things - for example the Electronics design pages and the Packaging Designer. By adhering to open standards, we endeavour to ensure that D&T Online will run on all types of computer - Acorn, Apple, PC as well as the next generation of network computers and powerful hand held devices. Where limitations are imposed upon us, we will try to make this clear and make every effort to achieve further development. For example, because at the time of writing, different Web browsers treat JAVA's security issues differently, some browsers allow us to save data directly to disc, whilst others require the cooperation of our server. See the information page in the packaging designer section for further details.

What do I need to access it?

Any computer with access to the internet and a Web browser. Some of the more complex design pages (eg the packaging designer pages) will need a JAVA enabled browser.

Copyright D&T Online 1996-98