Information technology contests – introduction to computer science in an attractive way

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  • Article: Information technology contests – introduction to computer science in an attractive way
  • Author(s): Valentina Dagienė
  • Journal: Informatics in Education 5 (2006), no. 1, 37-46
  • Conference: Perspectives on computer science competitions for (high school) students

Abstract: Computers, information and communication technology (ICT) are more and more involved in the education process. Students should learn to use information technologies (IT) in a suitable, effective way, and when learning any subject they should be capable to implement computer facilities and thus develop their learning methods. Competitions are an excellent tool to achieve these goals. Competitions play an important role as a source of inspiration and innovation – youngsters are attracted by competitions, they get easier involved in such an activity, more willingly discuss and become more active. IT contests may be a key to the potential of new knowledge and an attractive way of binding up technology and education.

Interest in competitions essentially depends on problems. Really, choosing and developing interesting tasks (problems) is one of the most important issues bringing students into competitions. Attraction, invention, tricks, surprise should be desirable features of each problem presented to competitors. The problems have to be carefully selected, taking into account the different aspects of each problem. IT competitions should encourage students to think about computer science and to understand what it can be.

Introduction to computers, learning by using ICT are the actions aimed at solution and analysis of particular problems. Before starting IT competitions, tasks must be planned very carefully and based on some theoretical analysis. The main attention is paid to develop some criteria for creating as well as selecting tasks.

The history of the Lithuanian IT competition named "Beaver" started on October 21, 2004. Approximately 3500 students from about 150 comprehensive schools were involved in it. Afterwards, the workshop of participants from several foreign countries was held and building of a framework of the international "Beaver" competition was started. The paper deals with theoretical and practical issues of developing new kinds of competition in IT in Lithuania, called "Beaver".

Keywords: information and communication technology, problem solving, computer science, competition, learning by doing

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