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					    The ICT Challenge- an online marketing Initiative

Phil Morrison & Bruce Fergus

Business School, Otago Polytechnic
Private Bag 1910
Voice: (03) 479 6130, (03) 479 6119
Fax: (03) 471 6862
The current proposal is to create and develop an ongoing ICT presence within the
High School arena. The initial focus is IT but expansion into other subjects
particularly business related is currently under investigation
The existing methodology is to operate a web based challenge, orientated towards
High School students The general aim is to try and bridge the gap between perceived
and actual ICT relevance, while enhancing the educational experiences, process and
content. Additionally it is proposed to target the development of “independent
learning skills” for students considering Tertiary study
An associated focus is to better “position” Polytechnics in the minds of the year 13
school-leavers. A similar benefit has been experienced by CPIT, through the different
mechanism of a school-based elective within a large local school (McCarthy, 2002).
The Challenge is one tool that could offer some ICT enrichment for students and the
potential concomitant improvement in the Polytechnic profile. The process is an
adjunct to the successful Compuletics, an event-based competition focusing on
primary and intermediate students. We have considered that the older students are
more favourably disposed to a contest rather than an event-based focus
Some of the perceived benefits of this educational investment are
      Promotion of ICT and the benefits of Education
      Marketing of the Polytechnic system
      Enhancing the role of IT aspects within the business sector
      Sustaining and the development of a small learning community
      Toward building Self confidence/ self reliance in learning
      Developing an inspiration for learning
      Improving student retention (Evans, 2000)
      Fostering goals within the Tertiary Education Strategy (Maharey, 2002)

Keywords: Information Systems; High School; Promotion
The Background
It is expected that within the next 5 years that secondary students will be strongly
influenced by the Ministry’s ICT strategy for schools. The reality however for many
students is they often experience a much richer IT environment from home than what
school is able to provide. The contributions of home and institution have been clearly
identified for their interactive role in ICT development (OECD, 2001).
However, those of us who have experienced teaching at high school will recognize
that the ICT curriculum is clearly not as challenging as it could be for many students.
The Challenge is one tool that could offer some enrichment and challenge to those
students that could benefit as identified from the secondary school.
How will such an initiative realise benefits for the institutions?
Institutional and Student Benefits
When selecting or altering tertiary study plans, students have identified a variety of
sources as most influential on their decisions. Those options that were perceived as
most useful were family members and relatives, school, tertiary experience and
employment based contacts. Whatever the influence, it was clear that students
required more information, advice, preparation, personal contact and hands on
experience (Chalmers & Kumekawa, 2000).
Some of the major influences cited for changing tertiary study plans were developing
a personal interest (30%) and (33%) study experiences (Boyd, Chalmers &
Kumekawa, 2001). If the challenges are created to optimise the student's interest, then
there is every conceivable chance that there will be potential enrolment benefits.
A CPIT computer studies programme launched within Burnside High School is
displaying some of these benefits. McCarthy (2002) attributes more than twice the
expected enrolments to the initiative, which emulates the decision trends that the year
13 students tertiary plans are quite malleable (Boyd et al, 2001).
Students who select their tertiary options poorly appear to be a major causative factor
for dropping out. The direct cost to the British taxpayer is estimated at approximately
£90 million annually. Similar costs and trends have also been noted in Australia
(Evans, 2000).
Schools need to become discerning and knowledgeable ICT users (OECD, 2001).
Encompassing new ways of learning within the school setting can result in improved
student performance Activities that result in the teacher learning in unison with the
students, reduce the bind that the teacher’s understanding limits what can be taught.
Learning communities of common interest, focused on interesting projects can
generate levels of involvement and engagement that are uncommon within the
classroom (Papert, 2001).
A review of project-based studies indicates a variety of educational benefits over the
more traditional direct instruction. Incorporating new approaches to learning can
result in improved student performance. (Edutopia, 2001)
Within the polytechnic sector our role is becoming increasingly under scrutiny from
the Tertiary Education Strategy (TES). The strategy’s main aim is to foster excellence
within the tertiary educational system and its alignment to New Zealand’s goals for
economic and social development.
The strategy provides a five-year blueprint, which contains 6 goals to enhance the
performance of the tertiary sectors. The ICT Challenge can foster specific TES goals
by raising and developing knowledge and foundation skills; strengthen knowledge
creation and uptake (Maharey, 2002).
The Current Status- known competition related initiatives
 Nzoom. com Schools Web Challenge
    A purely web focused competition that requires the students to self select a topic
    then create a web site. Over 2000 entries were entered in 2001, its inaugural year.
    Currently they have received over 700 web site entries within the first 3 weeks.
   Compuletics (Otago Polytechnic)
    An event-based competition focusing on local primary (16) and intermediate (18)
    schools. Created and running for the third time by the School of Information
    Technology and students. Consists of a series of time limited tasks with an
    emphasis on fun but practical skills (internet, basic programming and word
   Houston/WEL Energy Trust School Competition
    A local Waikato Bay of Plenty competition targeting different age groups (Years
    1-4, 5-8, 9-13) with a variety of different tasks designed to easily fit within the
    classroom programmes. Tasks extend from multimedia Electronic Books that
    relate closely to topics covered within classroom work, to Web based electronic
    presentations that match specific units of learning set by the classroom teacher.
    Most of the past entries been based around language and science units or use a
    variety of technologies in the Social studies, Science and Technology curriculums.
    While the Web based contributions appear to be history, geography, and science
    based. There is a keen local interest in the competition rising from 440 students
    (2001) to nearly 1200 in the current year. (Gibbs, 2002)
   CCES Multimedia Competition
    A local Christchurch event-based competition created in various forms since the
    90’s. Includes 3 different age groups (years 1-6, 7-9, 10-13) across 6 categories.
    Incorporates either individual or team events focusing on programming, desktop
    publishing web page design and multimedia. Entries for the current year are 140
    students. (Gough James, 2002)
   UNITEC in Schools – Where am I
    An online social studies project incorporating schools that either generate the
    clues or those who problem solve and identify the mystery place.
   freebee VB Challenge
    A private UK based computer online training company that started in 2002 to
    generate various interesting Visual Basic projects as a promotional strategy to
    gain new clients (Winning Systems, 2002)
   The Australian Schools Computer Competition
    Australia's largest programming competition for high school students in two age
    groups (Years 10; 11 and 12) Organised by The University of Southern
   Queensland and supported by the Australian Computer Society. The competition
   is to presently part of National Science Week.
The ICT Challenge Format
The initial focus is on IT but the expansion into other business and non-business areas
are also being considered.
The individual tasks need to be carefully designed to maximize the learning and
knowledge experience. The various areas currently include:
      Software solutions for relevant topics within the school environment
      Multimedia related demonstrations of specific curriculum topics
      Process control problems
      Technical Writing issues
      E Commerce and Business solutions
      Industrial design topics
      Miscellaneous Challenges and Games
Anyone is welcome to contribute and at this stage the current topics have arisen from
schools, institutions and private companies.
Submission and enquiries will be via a teacher contact, following similar mechanisms
adopted by other competitions. In the event of any problems or issues the school will
be able to contact the site’s personae (Prof IT) who will respond to the matter.
At this stage the challenge will commence in 2003. Each will include a title,
overview, requirements and guidelines. Also included are the submission sources
(name, institution or corporate sponsor) and deadline (inactive or active with a
specific date). Note although available not all of the challenges will be active within
any one year.

Boyd, S., Chalmers, A. & Kumekawa, E. (2001), Beyond School: Final Year School
  Students' Experiences of the Transition to Tertiary Study or Employment, NZCER:
Chalmers, A. & Kumekawa, E. (2000), Decision-making by secondary school
  students on tertiary study and other destinations: results of a 1999 survey. Paper
  presented at NZARE conference Hamilton, December 2000.
Evans, M. (2000). Planning for the Transition to Tertiary Study, Monash University,
Edutopia. (2001). Project-Based Learning Research.
    token.3=Innovative%20Classrooms&-find [8 June, 2002]

Gibbs, G. (2002). Houston/Wel Energy Trust School IT Competition. (personal
   communication, July 3, 2002)
Gough James, V. Christchurch College of Computing. . (personal communication,
   August 30, 2002)
McCarthy, C. (2002). Making the transition – Computer Studies in Year 13 at
   Burnside High School: a case study. Proceedings of the 15th Annual Conference
   of the NACCQ, Hamilton, July 2002.
Hon Steve Maharey (2002) Strategy heralds new era for tertiary education sector.
  [3 June 2002]
OECD. (2001), Schooling for Tomorrow: Learning to Change: ICT in Schools.
  OECD: Paris
Papert, S. (2001) Teaching in the Digital Age: Project-Based Learning and
    [8 June, 2002]
The Australian Computer Competition (2002) [28 August, 2002]
UNITEC in Schools. (2002). Where am I? [28 August, 2002]
Winning Systems (2002). freebee VB Challenge.
   [8 August, 2002]

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