ORT Odessa team wins ICT contest


01 April 2009 ORT Odessa team wins ICT contest A team from the ORT school in Odessa has won a regional competition testing high school students on their Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills. It is the second time since the annual contest was founded four years ago that the school has won it and ORT Odessa Director Anna Michurina is delighted. ‘Everyone is very happy, particularly because two of the team’s three members volunteered to take part at the last moment to replace students who were too ill to compete,’ Ms Michurina said. ‘It was interesting for me to hear from the students that they found the task set in the competition to be quite easy because they simply used the skills they had been taught in class.’ The competition is the brainchild of Ms Michurina and her colleagues at the ORT Odessa Centre. While all schools in Ukraine teach ICT office skills all the country’s official competitions in Informatics – ICT and computer science – focus on computer programming. Ms Michurina, however, convinced fellow educationalists that it was important to have an alternative. ‘Computer programming is important but it is also very difficult and off-putting for many children,’ she said. ‘But the practical application of ICT, for example graphics and web design, is of much wider interest and students can use what they learn straight away at university and at work. It is important that achievement in such skills is recognised and rewarded so that people appreciate their value. We want students to know how important ICT is and to choose to study it.’ Her argument was persuasive and the competition idea was taken up by the Odessa Regional Education Authority. Each year an increasing number of schools in Odessa and surrounding towns take part in the competition but only 12 teams are selected for the finals, which are staged at the Odessa ORT Technology Centre. This year, the teams were required to design the logo, website and official documents of an imaginary travel agency. Part of the challenge was to find information about 10 hotels on the Internet using only the keywords provided and use the date to create interesting, informative and attractive presentations on the website. And all in only three hours. Unfortunately, because of budget cuts and the absence of sponsors in these straightened economic times, no prizes could be awarded, only diplomas, but this did not worry (pictured from left) Pavel Geleban, Bella Engonga and Sasha Brodsky, members of the ORT Odessa team which shared first place with a team from Izmail, a port on the Danube delta. ‘I really enjoyed it,’ said Grade 8 student Sasha, the youngest member of the team. ‘The biggest challenge was to work accurately in such a short time.’ Like Sasha, Bella found that the standard curriculum taught at ORT Odessa prepared them well for the task. ‘Our computer science classes allow us to develop a deep knowledge of the various software in use today – both from a theoretical and practical point of view. I particularly like web design but we also learn graphics and how to programme website content using JavaScript. All this knowledge helped me very much on the competition. I found taking part was very interesting.’