I have the same questions about the “canned” products. I also think about the missed opprtunities with the shift away from vocational ed and the loss of teachers who were trained and experienced teaching wood, metal, and auto shop classes not to mention art classes taught by art educators.
Educators who are not trained in teaching artistic and design processes have a lot to learn from those folks. IB has a focus on design process: investigate; plan; create; evaluate, that teaches and assesses specific skills but we still struggle with how much we guide or structure the inquiry and the products or solutions.
This is a very thought provoking post and I hope vocational ed teachers chime in and ate given the opportunity to lead in this not-so-new area of funding and attention.