Hands-on workshop exposes students to IT

Nathan Liewicki
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SIAST, Prairie South partnership benefits Grade 9-12 students

Brandon Rosnes described himself as the type of person who does not take joy in labourious tasks.

A high school student plays a game she created during a three-day Focus on Information Technology workshop at SIAST's Palliser Campus on Saturday. There were 48 students from the Prairie South School Division that participated in the workshop. 

“I’m more the type of guy that likes to sit inside and be in a room on a computer all day,” said the Grade 9 student from Peacock Collegiate.

Rosnes, along with 47 other high school students from the Prairie South School Division spent three days – Thursday through Saturday – at the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST) learning about information technology (IT).

More specifically, the students had an opportunity to take part in an interactive workshop that introduced them to technologies, game design and mobile application development.

The hands-on workshop was part of the Information and Communications Technology Council’s (ICTC) Focus on Trade Technology program.

One of the collaborating industry supporters that helped put on the event at SIAST, ICTC sees value in creating opportunities for students to explore the relevance of IT in their education and future careers.

“There is a shortage of IT workers in the province and it’s our responsibility … to recruit and train people for those jobs,” said Gavin Osborne, an instructor in the business information systems program at SIAST.

Osborne was one of many workers in the IT industry on hand during the workshop to assist the students in the creation of two applications.

One was a web application that gave students the ability to track their fitness. It was also connected to Twitter, to allow students to tweet out their results.

They also created a basic programming in the form of a simple, two-player tank game.

“They never cease to amaze me with how much they are capable of doing and how quickly they can make this technology work.

“The most interesting outcome for us is we show them how to make a fitness tracking application, but they do a lot more with it. They make it into an application to use on their farm, or to track their hockey stats,” Osborne told the Times-Herald. “And once they see how the tank game is built, they are able to interact with the code and make it do other things.”

He added that it was enjoyable having a chance to teach a different – younger – audience a few IT basics.

Rosnes and fellow Grade 9 Peacock student Jordyn Kesslar both thought the three-day program was a blast.

“I'm really glad I decided to go,” said Kesslar, who was one of about a dozen girls at the workshop. “It wasn't what I expected it to be. It was much more fun.”

Rosnes said he’s a big technology junkie really into technology, something that aided in his enjoyment of the workshop.

“The same as Jordyn; it was a lot more entertaining than I expected. I expected to just be sitting there typing away codes, but it was very fun and we got lots of help.”

Both were quick to point out that learning about IT has them thinking about taking post-secondary studies at a technological institute, as opposed to a university.

As per Rosnes and Kesslar, their experience with IT was very meaningful; something Osborne said was necessary to workers’ enjoyment in the industry.

“They have to come away having been exposed to the actual kind of work they would be doing, so we used our industry relevant tools to develop these applications.”

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology, Information and Communications Technology Council, Prairie South School Division Times-Herald

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