International Conference on Informatics in Schools: Situation, Evolution and Perspectives


WS 1: Lukas Planteu, Bernhard Standl, Wilfried Grossmann and Erich Neuwirth: Integrating School Practice in Austrian Teacher Education


At the moment experience in teaching at school is rather limited in the curriculum of teacher education in Austria. In order to overcome this problem we started at a cooperation between university Vienna, faculty of Computer Science and two Viennese schools and organized joint courses for teacher students in computer science. Besides the goal of o ffering student teachers more opportunities for practical teaching in university education such courses allow also testing di erent teaching concepts. In particular we are interested in promoting learner centred teaching, project based teaching, and alternative ways of classroom management in teaching computer science.


The general design of the courses developed in cooperation between university and school teachers can be described by the following six phases:
  1. Initial Phase: At the beginning of the course we organize a joint meeting of students, teacher and university lecturer. This meeting o ers students the opportunity to learn about knowledge of the children at school from school teachers perspective. Furthermore topics to be covered according to the curriculum are discussed.
  2. Introductory phase: In this phase students get familiar with school environment and pupils. The students visit the school and are introduced to the class.
  3. Preparatory phase: Students prepare concepts for their teaching. Besides the content dimension the students are also invited to reflect about the di erent competence dimensions, methods for assessment, and also to show how computer science and ICT can be applied in an interdisciplinary setting or in everyday life.
  4. Discussion phase: The teaching concepts are introduced at the university. In general we (teacher and university sta ) do not change concepts of the students too much, because we want to give student teachers the opportunity to make their own teaching experience.
  5. Teaching phase: Students apply their concepts in teaching pupils at school.
  6. Re ection and evaluation phase: After the course we arrange separate discussion rounds with the pupils as well as with the students and ask them to ll in a questionnaire. As a communication platform we use mainly Moodle, because it is at the moment the de facto standard platform at Austrian schools.

Workshop Topics

In the workshop we will demonstrate by examples from di erent courses how the concept worked in detail. In particular we discuss the following three scenarios:
  1. Using graphic software for interdisciplinary applications of computer science in grade 10 classes;
  2. Teaching basic ICT and CS skills in grade 4 and grade 5 classes according to the Austrian educational standards for Computer Science;
  3. Teaching computer science at a project week with a grade 11 class. This project week was planned as preparation for school leaving examination (Matura) in Computer Science in the next year.
Besides the presentation of the teaching concepts in the di erent settings we will also discuss results of the evaluation of student teachers and pupils. In general we can say that the courses were well accepted from both groups. For students teachers main pro t was that they got additional teaching experience and the informal contact with teachers. With respect to teaching skills the most important experiences were learning adaptive behaviour according to di erent settings, time management in the classes, and understanding pupils' conceptions about di erent topics in computer science. From the learners' perspective response was also positive because the new setting increased attention. In particular in case of the project week there was agreement that continuous project oriented work is much more e ective than traditional splitting over more weeks. The material presented will be used as input for discussion with participants about pros and cons of the approach and about opportunities to transfer the ideas into other CS teacher curricula.

WS 2: Jan Benacka: BubbleSort, SelectSort and InsertSort in Excel & Delphi – Learning the Concepts in a Constructionist Way


In the workshop, a method is presented of acquiring the principles of sorting algorithms SelectSort, InsertSort and BubbleSort through developing interactive Excel applications. The author uses the method when teaching programming to undergraduates of teaching informatics. The advantage of Excel is that the steps of the solution are on the screen, and the environment reacts immediately to the written formulas. Relative and absolute addressing is used only. The just acquired step of the solution is rewritten in Delphi Pascal.

WS 3: Noa Ragonis: Problem-solving strategies must be taught implicitly


The workshop is dedicated to pedagogical tools that can scaffold learners in solving problems in the discipline of computer science. The focus will be on algorithmic solutions that can be implemented in different programming languages. Several main problem-solving strategies will be presented; the advantages and disadvantages of each will be discussed; and ways of imparting them to in-service and pre-service teachers will be addressed.

Workshop topics

  • Define the various required stages in the problem-solving process: problem understanding, solution design, solution examination, reflection.
  • Present main problem-solving strategies: focus on variables (rules of variables); focus on problem decomposition (stepwise refinement); focus on algorithms (algorithmic patterns).
  • Discuss advantages and disadvantages, limitation of usage, and needed attentiveness when using each strategy.
  • Discuss whether there are differences between solving problems in different programming paradigms or different topics within CS such as computational models.
  • Discuss ways to impart problem-solving strategies to in-service and pre-service teachers.

The workshop will be based on various participant activities and group work.

WS 4: Sue Sentance and Steve Hodges: .NET Gadgeteer Workshop

.NET Gadgeteer is a platform for creating your own electronic devices using a wide variety of hardware modules and a powerful programming environment. Students with little or no Computing background can build devices made up of components that sense and react to its environment using switches, displays, motor controllers, and more. Components are plugged into a mainboard and programmed to make them work together.
Microsoft Research has launched .NET Gadgeteer as open source software /hardware, and .NET Gadgeteer kits are now available from a variety of hardware vendors. Gadgets can be constructed by connecting the modules with cables, then programming the events triggered when using the device using Visual Studio. Either Visual Basic or Visual C# can be used.
.NET Gadgeteer has great potential in schools due to the fact that it can be used to teach students computer programming, simple electronics and also some computer-aided design. It is also very motivating for young people to be able to build their own gadgets. A digital camera can be built in about half an hour! Other devices that students can learn to build are a stop watch, trac lights, various games, a temperature logger and a music player. The possibilities are endless! Through using .NET Gadgeteer, students learn about handling events, and are introduced to key programming concepts that are taught in schools including selection, iteration, arrays and functions.
We have held pilots in schools in the UK and the USA and students have been very motivated by the opportunity to create physical devices. Students work in groups and enjoy the opportunity to be creative as well as learning to program. In this hands-on workshop, we will demonstrate .NET Gadgeteer and a variety of modules that are available. Participants will have the opportunity to build and program a small gadget or device of their own, using a range of modules and Visual Basic .NET.

WS 5: Carol Berry and Peter Kusterer: Using Teachers' TryScience to support educators and improve teaching

Wanted: Great science teachers. Building the base of scientists and engineers and preparing the next generation of innovators requires great science teachers with the skills and knowledge to educate, inspire and motivate students. But the demand for science teachers continues to far outweigh the supply.

In many countries this is especially true for teachers on informatics. While informatics itself is rarely a compulsory part of today's school curricula, latest with the Web 2.0 information technology is being used not only as part of many lessons (e.g. preparing presentations) but pupils are becoming more and more versatile in using these tools, peer learning is prevalent. Formal teachers' education struggles to keep pace with this development.

The challenge is providing teachers with the resources they need to strengthen their instruction and better prepare students for the jobs of the 21st Century, many of which will increasingly be in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.

Enablement through the Web. Therefore continuously sharing of best practices is key for today's advancement of education – even more in the dynamic field of informatics.

While currently focusing on environmental science, using Teachers TryScience, teachers, primarily at the middle school level, are able to improve their instruction in project-based learning. Teachers' Tryscience provides free and engaging standards-based lessons, integrated with teaching strategies and resources, which are designed to spark students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The site also provides social networking tools that enable educators to comment on and rate the lessons and resources; submit their own teaching materials; and form public and private groups to engage in focused discussions with colleagues in the same district or around the globe.

What distinguishes Teachers TryScience is the integration of lessons with instructional supports. There are literally thousands of lessons on the web. Teachers TryScience features some of the best and then helps teachers implement them effectively in the classroom by giving them the real tools to do so.

Teachers' Tryscience is a non-commercial offering, developed by the New York Hall of Science, TeachEnginnering (a collaborative project between faculty, students and teachers associated with five universities and the American Society for Engineering Education), the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and IBM Citizenship.

Objective of the workshop. First, to introduce into Teachers' Tryscience and the underlying concept for educators to understand and more effectively use science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning, design-based lessons, and summative and formative assessment strategies. Second, in common work group discussions the participants will identify the potential for use on lessons on information technology and how to potentially to utilize the Teachers TryScience website ( as an instructional resource.