Computing as a discipline has common roots with mathematics and written languages, and computing as a way of thinking and handling has been integral to human culture since ever. This is not only a reasonable argument for convincing society to consider informatics as one of the very fundamental pillars of education, but it also puts the potential contributions of teaching informatics in schools into the correct perspective in the context of science and humanities. Many European countries are switching from teaching information technologies to informatics education during the current second decade of this century. Informatics curriculum is becoming a central part of school education. We explain and design a way of developing informatics curriculum that offer the critical competences new generations need to survive and thrive in todays’ knowledge society and will allow them to contribute to the future development of society. These competences also strongly support the development of their intellectual potential and creativity. Our design of informatics curriculum takes into account the interaction with other scientific disciplines as well with the subject didactics, pedagogy and psychology. The starting point is merging constructionism and critical thinking. Constructionism with its “learning by doing” and “learning by getting things to work” enables designing a teaching process in which students acquire knowledge by creating products, analysing the properties and the functionality of their own products, and finally derive motivation to improve these products. Critical thinking asks us not to teach products of science and technology and their application, but to teach the creative process of their development. To implement this approach, we use the historical method allowing the students to learn by productive failures in the process of searching for a solution. To organize the process of learning and make the different steps available to the appropriate age groups we take into account the cognitive dimensions of the revised taxonomy of Bloom. To illustrate how the combination of all these concepts works we present a detailed curriculum for algorithm design, programming, robotics, and communication in networks.
In Poland, talent development is organized mainly outside or alongside the educational system. A large number of privately funded informatics contests and extra-curricular talent development programs for highly motivated students are available. However, traditional competitions also exist including national informatics Olympiads and competitions mainly supported by the Ministry of Education. In particular, we stimulate interest in informatics by organizing the annual nationwide InfoSukces contest. This contest was organized for the first time in 2015 when informatics education in Poland was experiencing difficulties recruiting new students, who were in growing demand on the labor market. The aim of the contest is now to make students aware that the jobs of the future require problem-solving, digital skills, and creative thinking, all of which can be taught through informatics. The contest also provides a platform for a unique series of activities, the goal of which is to support partnerships and knowledge flow between schools and universities. This article provides a case study of the final stage of the InfoSukces contest, which involves the participants developing a “work of art” in the Scratch programming environment. It also presents the holistic method for quantitative evaluation of the students’ creative visual-based programming projects.
As an international informatics contest, or challenge, Bebras has started the second decade of its existence. The contest attracts more and more countries every year, recently there have been over 40 participating countries. From a single contest-focused annual event Bebras developed to a multifunctional challenge and an activities-based educational community building model. This paper aims to introduce the Bebras model using ten years of observations in implementing the contest in different countries. The model is essentially based on democratic and inclusive education values. Systematic literature review of research papers concerning Bebras activities has made an integral background for this model. The model is represented both at international and national levels and consists of several components where the development of Bebras tasks has taken a very significant role. Reasoning on innovated learning informatics and strengthening computational thinking by utilising carefully selected informatics concepts is discussed as well.
There are many important issues in informatics and many agree that algorithms and programming are most important issues that need to be included in informatics education (Dagiene and Jevsikova, 2012). In this paper, we propose how some of these issues can be easily taught using the notion of a formal system which consists of axioms and inference rules by which theorems can be proved. As is argued in (Dagiene and Jevsikova, 2012), we can introduce important topics in informatics using puzzle-like examples and students do not need to have prerequisites for learning. The materials presented in this paper have been used in a college-level elective class titled Hypertext and Computability in our university since the fall semester of 2008 and we believe that the contents proposed in this paper can be easily used to teach beginner students without technical backgrounds.
A recent report by the joint Informatics Europe & ACM Europe Working Group on Informatics Education emphasizes that: (1) computational thinking is an important ability that all people should possess; (2) informatics-based concepts, abilities and skills are teachable, and must be included in the primary and particularly in the secondary school curriculum. Accordingly, the "2013 Best Practices in Education Award" (organized by Informatics Europe) was devoted to initiatives promoting Informatics Education in Primary and Secondary Schools. In this paper we present one of the winning projects: "Multi-Sensory Informatics Education". We have developed effective multi-sensory methods and software-tools to improve the teaching-learning process of elementary, sorting and recursive algorithms. The technologically and artistically enhanced learning environment we present has also the potential to promote intercultural computer science education and the algorithmic thinking of both science- and humanities-oriented learners.
The first specification for the informatics Matura examination in Poland was published in 2000, and since May 2005 the examination has been organized every year. This article includes some reflections and remarks about formulating examination tasks and pupils' difficulties in solving the tasks collected by the author during her work as an examiner. In the article, four examination tasks from 2008 are considered. These remarks could be useful especially for informatics teachers.
It is easy to underestimate the difficulties of using floating-point numbers in programming. This is especially the case in pre-university informatics education and competitions, where one is often led to believe that floating-point arithmetic is a good approximation of the real number system. However, most of the mathematical laws valid for real numbers break down when applied to floating-point numbers. We explain this break-down and illustrate it with four simple examples.
In informatics education and competitions, the students need to be trained, programming assignments need to be formulated, submitted programs need to be evaluated, and variations among computing platforms need to be handled. We show that the use of floating-point numbers gives rise to various kinds of non-trivial difficulties in all these areas. Coping with such difficulties would require that teachers, students, and organizers gain experience in numerical mathematics.
We strongly recommend to avoid the use of floating-point numbers in pre-university education and competitions whenever possible. If you do want to use floating-point numbers, then study the literature of numerical mathematics and be prepared to do a convincing error analysis.