As the IOI 2013 comes to a close, industry experts are drawing attention to how Australian school students engage in informatics in the national curriculum.
The Queensland Informatics Outreach Program aims to attract more schools to teaching informatics by demonstrating the usefulness of informatics in strategy and problem solving.
The outreach program is a joint venture between The University of Queensland and Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, and today, high school teachers in maths, science and IT attended a seminar hosted by UQ.
The Australian Workplace Productivity Agency recently reported that there is a shortfall in the ICT workforce in Australia.
Swinburne University ICT Professor Leon Sterling, chair of the Australian Informatics Olympiad Committee (AIOC), spoke about why Australian education needs to put more focus on training in informatics skills.
“One of the biggest challenges is for the universities, industry and schools to work together to promote Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as a career,” Professor Sterling said.
Australian Deputy Team Leader and former IOI competitor Robert Newey spoke about his involvement with informatics Olympiads both as a contestant and as the AIOC NSW State Director.
“The Queensland outreach program is for teachers to see the benefits of an informatics program,” Mr Newey said.
“Informatics is not really taught at all in high school in Australia.
“They’re definitely moving towards the introduction of more computer science in the new national curriculum.”
Professor Sterling said there were plans to make exposure to informatics more uniform across the national curriculum.
“The office of the chief scientist is developing a national strategy for STEM subjects with ICT being understood as the key part of the technology initiatives,” he said.
Mr Newey said making improvements to informatics curriculum in secondary education would bolster Australia’s position as a serious contender in the IOI.
“If we can increase the general knowledge of computer science overall, then we will have a lot more people coming in to the program and a much larger selection of students to choose from,” he said.
“Right now we have about two hundred students each year sitting our Australian Informatics Olympiad (AIO).
“If we could increase computer science understanding we should see a vast increase in the numbers for the Australian IOI selection pool.”
Professor Sterling said Australia hosting the IOI helped to engage teachers and highlight the need for an improved informatics curriculum.
“People now recognise that Australia has to do something, and that there are problems in schools and in the ICT curriculum,” he said.
“I think there’s going to be a lot more national attention on these particular programs and the international Olympiad has actually helped to highlight some of these discussions.”