Case study: Development of a platform for the NTI Contest
The annual NTI Contest is a high school student team tech competition that brings together young engineers from all over the country, tech evangelists, teachers, schools and universities, and independent experts.
In the first NTI Contests, the organizers had to process all the data manually. Our task was to automate everything that could be automated, aggregate data about participants and their achievements on one platform, and integrate it with other platforms of the Contest. As a result, we developed a platform that combines personal accounts of a participant and a mentor, an admin panel for the organizers of the Contest, microservices for offline stages, and integrated it with the Stepik educational platform.
This project has won Silver for the Best site for children and youth, and Bronze for the Best intranet design at the Tagline Awards 2019.
About the project
The annual NTI (National Technological Initiative) Contest is a high school student team tech competition that brings together young engineers from all over the country, tech evangelists, teachers, schools and universities, and independent experts. The winners and finalists of the NTI Contest can enter the organizing universities without exams or receive additional points upon admission.
It has been held offline since 2015 in several cities of Russia, and starting from 2018 it is available for every Russian high school student: the selection for the contest is carried out online.
As part of this project, we developed a platform that combines the personal account of a participant and a mentor, an admin panel for the organizers of the Contest, microservices for offline stages, and integrated it with the Stepik educational platform.
Challenge and solution
In the first NTI Contests, the organizers processed all the data manually. Our task was to automate everything that could be automated, aggregate data about participants and their achievements on one platform, integrate it with other platforms of the Contest.
Registration of participants
The Contest participant creates a new account or logs in via a Stepik or VK account.
“The last lesson” game
To attract more students, we developed a game called “The last lesson" on VK social media. The participants form teams and solve quests and quizzes. As a result, children receive recommendations on career guidance and choice of the subject area at the NTI Contest.
Choosing the subject area
The participants of the Contest choose the subject area by the subject or their competencies.
To participate in the second stage, students in grades 8-11 form teams. If a participant is looking for a team or a team is looking for a like-minded team member, they can find suitable people directly in their personal account in the search bar – by keywords.
Tasks in personal account
When the teams are formed, they receive tasks of the second stage. The teams with the most points in their subject areas win. They are then sent to the final stage to the city where the university supervising this subject area is located.
Assessment of student works and working with grades and comments
We have developed a solution for the offline stage – a service for student works assessment.
When a participant uploads a completed work, the moderator checks it, grades it and provides comments on their decision. The auditor double-checks the work and the grade given by the moderator, while neither the moderator nor the auditor knows whose work it is – everything is anonymous. The participant receives the assessed work with grades and comments. If the assessment didn't satisfy them, they may appeal.
The role of a mentor
In 2019, the role of a mentor was added. They can see what tasks a student has to solve, what level of difficulty and on what topics, they can solve all the tasks and help the student, for example, to pick up materials for preliminary study. The role of a mentor can be taken not only by the teacher but also by the parent of the participant in the NTI Contest.
For organizers, we have developed an admin panel where all user data is stored.
When registering, a user indicates the language in which they want to take the tasks – Russian or English. Therefore, we made the English version of the entire platform.
All sections of the platform have an adaptive layout (so they are correctly displayed even on mobile devices).
And a little more details on the development
Each track is a separate project, with its limitations and conditions. The platform is large, complex and contains a lot of logic. It is impossible to test everything on all devices and in all roles in a short time, so we created a microservice for ourselves, which reports errors – both on the backend and the frontend.
Achieved goals and KPI based on the launch results
In September and October 2019, the registration of participants for all three tracks was completed. Tens of thousands of schoolchildren, students, and tutors from all over the country registered on the platform. The selection stage of the NTI Contest ended on November 1, which means that the participants have already seen their first results in a new personal account.
"With the help of this platform, we wanted to achieve the following goals: to create a cohesive community of young engineers and their mentors, to provide a convenient tool for:
solving problems (that is, a convenient and accessible interface oriented to a user of 10-16 years old),
organization of working teams (and this implies, among other things, 29 types of organization of schoolchildren in 29 different disciplines of competitions, which requires certain flexibility),
control of the process by the mentor (that is, that the school teacher sees what tasks the students solve, what difficulties they have, what they can do, and what they can’t),
and also to get the opportunity to analyze statistical data, and draw conclusions about the state of the community (conditional 100K people who are engaged and interested in the subject of engineering education as participants, students or teachers).
In general, we can say that we have achieved our goals".
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