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Malta Places 1st In The Regional Microsoft Imagine Cup Competition 2007 (MIIIT)

Malta Places 1st In The Regional Microsoft Imagine Cup Competition 2007Minister Austin Gatt congratulated the Maltese team, of four students reading a Bachelor of Science in IT honours degree, who came first in the East Mediterranean regional Microsoft Imagine Cup competition 2007.

This year’s team consists of four students reading a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSc IT) honours degree at third-year level, specialising in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence (CSAI) stream: Abigail Cauchi, Jennifer Fenech, Karl Fenech, and Luana Micallef.

The participation in this competition is possible thanks to the Ministry for Investment, Industry and IT and Microsoft.

Following this successful result, the students shall now be representing Malta in the worldwide finals, scheduled to take place next August in Seoul, South Korea. The Maltese team will compete with teams hailing from all over the world. This is the second time that Malta places first in the regional competition: last year a team of Maltese University students placed first and travelled to India to participate in the worldwide competition finals.

Imagine Cup is an annual competition organised by Microsoft Corporation which brings together young technologists worldwide to help resolve some of the world’s toughest challenges.  The software design competition invites teams of up to four students from post-secondary and tertiary educational institutions to submit their ideas in the form of software solutions which address a specified theme. The Imagine Cup competition commenced four years ago, and already more than 100,000 students from over 100 countries have participated.

Imagine Cup 2007 is themed “Imagine a world where technology enables a better education for all.” Participants were encouraged to use cutting-edge technologies to come up with creative and innovative solutions for improving educational opportunities for students around the world. This mission is closely aligned with the Education For All (EFA) goals, established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which aims to “universalize primary education and massively reduce illiteracy by the end of the decade.”

About the Project

Microsoft recently introduced the Windows MultiPoint, a powerful technology enabling multiple users to simultaneously and interactively share a single computer using multiple mice and cursors identifiable by their colour. MultiPoint helps shift the student from passive to active learning, and the collaborative environment adds a whole new layer of value to the computer in the classroom. The solution put forth by the Maltese team is a fully-integrated MultiPoint system which is easy to use, extensible, and most importantly, promotes a constructive pedagogy and an intuitive way for teachers to make their lessons more interactive, interesting and collaborative. Through the system, students may be assessed whilst engaging in educational software activities, enhancing their motivation. State-commissioned or commercial developers may upload new applications which would be seamlessly incorporated into the system and immediately available within all classrooms.

The system was devised following extensive research on learning paradigms, including collaboration and the use of games within the educational context, and is meant as a  motivational prototype for eventual deployment in real-life scenarios. Seamlessly integrated, it binds all stakeholders (developers, administration, teachers, and students) in their respective roles, amplifying the dissemination of knowledge and providing enhanced educational opportunities for all. The system also enables an innovative edge, giving unbounded opportunities for the development of applications to best meet the local demands. All this is captured in the title chosen for the project: KIKI short for a Key to the Integration of Knowledge and Innovation.

The team tested the system with the help of a primary state school using a class of thirty students. The setup consisted of eight computers for the students, each having three to four mice connected, and the teacher’s computer. The competitive aspect brought about by this fresh pedagogy was very successful at keeping the students engaged in a typical lesson. The students were absorbed throughout the lesson, with a constant display of enthusiasm towards the new system. Meanwhile, the teacher found it easier to control her class and, with the help of the real-time progress-monitoring system, had more control on the performance of each student.

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