In order to give young people and teachers the opportunity to get to know the topic of algorithms, the VCLA organized a youth video competition, where they were looking for short videos (60 seconds) that address fundamental questions about the technical and social aspects surrounding algorithms: what are algorithms, how do they work, areas of application, potential and possible risks?
In order to motivate the students, a playful approach to the subject of algorithms was needed, especially while the topic is often called “dry” and generally not understood. Following the categorization of the BMBWF, VCLA designed the project as a “competition”. “Computational thinking is a valuable skill that provides a unique problem solving method that is essential for many future tasks. The creation of explanatory videos allowed the pupils the training in computational thinking, which can be used and trained at all ages from kindergarten through to matriculation and of course also beyond, “says Prof. Stefan Szeider, co-chair of VCLA.
Increasing digitization in all areas, which is crucial for innovation, growth, employment and competitiveness, requires new digital skills. The demand for the new skills requires a transformation of education and learning. “Schools can no longer be seen as isolated learning environments. As digital technology permeates every aspect of society, it will become increasingly necessary to combine formal, non-formal and informal learning opportunities that take place inside and outside the school, “said Prof. Agata Ciabattoni, co-chair of VCLA.
The project “Algorithms in 60 seconds” connected the most innovative actors in the field of digital education and digital skills in Austria. The video competition was supported by the eEducation Austria Network, Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF), Science Center Network, and Future Learning Lab (Center for Learning Technology and Innovation (ZLI)).
“The way computer science should be taught”
Almost 300 children and adolescents participated in the competition. On June 28, 2018, the winning videos were announced. The two best video teams from both categories received cash prizes worth 6,000 EUR. The cash prizes are provided by VCLA of the Vienna University of Technology. The third-placed videos from both categories received prizes from the Austrian Computer Society and DaVinciLab.
20 video finalists on YouTube
The project also addressed the most common problems faced by schools: scarcity of hardware equipment (broadband Internet, area-wide WLAN, mobile devices) and lack of training for the teaching staff. “The project was designed in a way that does not require a great deal of technical equipment at the schools or a strong mathematical background of the accompanying teachers,” says Prof. Szeider.
“We are pleased to see that the Video Competition has been used by the primary school teachers to prepare them for the compulsory “Digital Basic Education” exercise to be applied to all lower secondary schools from the 2018/19 school year,” say VCLA co-chairs. Such an example represents the elementary school teachers who worked on the task of the competition with their fourth grade children, who are too young to officially participate in the project.
Those videos are published on VCLA YouTube channel as “videos out of competition”.
About the eAwards
The eAward is one of the most important prizes for IT related topics in Austria. It takes place annually since 2005. At currently 58 gala events in all federal states, more than 1,300 projects have been nominated and more than 400 projects have been awarded. The focus is on topics and projects that show the technological change of our society, the economy and the administration particularly well. Partners of the eAward are the platform Digital Austria, OKI, Nagarro, Dimension Data, the Austrian Computer Society (OCG), the Association of Austrian Software Industry (VÖSI), Sparx Systems and T-Systems.