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welcome.TU.code Wins 2019 Best Practices in Education Award

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The 2019 edition was devoted to outstanding European Informatics educational initiatives that promote the inclusion and development of different student groups.

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Organised by Informatics Europe and sponsored by Microsoft, the Best Practices in Education Award was presented at a special ceremony held in Rome, Italy, during the 15th European Computer Science Summit (ECSS 2019). One of the two ex-aequo honoured projects is welcome.TU.code, which was submitted by Nysret Musliu and Reinhard Pichler on behalf of TU Wien Informatics.

“In summer 2015, when the refugee crisis dominated media reporting, a group of faculty members, led by Hannes Werthner, of the Faculty of Informatics of TU Wien decided that ‘we have to do something’ and thus set up the welcome.TU.code initiative”, explains Professor Reinhard Pichler. “The initial goal was to quickly help young unaccompanied refugees, who had arrived in Austria and could do nothing but wait in their detention centres. The idea was to organize computer courses where our students serve as tutors who give lessons in the basics of Computer Science to the young refugees.

Encouraged by the positive feedback from all sides, including refugees, students and NGOs taking care of the refugees, we turned these computer courses for refugees taught by our students into a regular course at TU Wien. Meanwhile, more than 400 refugees have attended our courses and over 200 students have served as tutors. Apart from the progress made in handling computers, the refugees had the opportunity to get in contact with local students, to learn about Austria and simply feel welcome. Also, the students have greatly profited from these courses by learning more about different cultures and being exposed to heterogeneity in terms of language, education level and country of origin, which they do otherwise not experience in everyday life.” Professor Pichler adds: “Finally, we believe that activities like welcome.TU.code have a positive impact on society in general: In times of controversial debates, universities with their influence and reputation can help to strengthen the position of open-mindedness and tolerance.”

About the Best Practices in Education Award

The Best Practices in Education Award is sponsored by Microsoft and carries a prize of €5,000. The grant is to be used for further work on the selected project. “Microsoft is delighted with the strong nominations received for the Informatics Europe 2019 Best Practices in Education Award and hopes that the winners’ proposals will inspire other organizations and institutions to initiate similar projects in order to encourage the inclusion and development of diverse student groups worldwide”, explains Dr Evelyne Viegas, Senior Director of Research Engagement at Microsoft Research.

In line with its mission to foster and promote teaching quality in Informatics, Informatics Europe annually presents the "Best Practices in Education Award". The 2019 edition was devoted to outstanding European Informatics educational initiatives that promote the inclusion and development of different student groups such as the elderly, immigrants or people with functional diversity.

Published November 6, 2019