An Overview of Istanbul University’s Distance Education Practices During the COVID-19 PandemicMahmut Ak, Levent Şahin, Ahmet Naim Çiçekler, Mehmet Ali Ertürk
This study centers on the distance education applications that have played a leading role in implementing educational activities conducted by higher education institutions in Turkey and around the world during the COVID-19 global pandemic. In this context, the purpose of this study is to examine educational experiences during the 2020 Spring Semester at Istanbul University, which has been regarded as the role model by many other Turkish universities for complying with decisions made by the Council of Higher Education in Turkey (CHE) in parallel with the rapid spread of the global pandemic. In this regard, the distance education processes coordinated by Istanbul University’s Faculty of Open and Distance Education will be scrutinized in all aspects using the outcomes from questionnaires and other certain statistics. The study aims to help present an innovative perspective for the 2020-2021 academic year in light of all the circumstances and developments encountered during the COVID process.
Kovid-19 Küresel Salgın Sürecinde İstanbul Üniversitesi Uzaktan Eğitim Uygulamalarına Genel Bir BakışMahmut Ak, Levent Şahin, Ahmet Naim Çiçekler, Mehmet Ali Ertürk
Bu çalışma, KOVİD-19 küresel salgın sürecinde dünyada ve Türkiye’deki yükseköğretim kurumlarının eğitim öğretim faaliyetlerinin yürütülmesinde başat rolü oynayan uzaktan eğitim uygulamalarını merkeze almaktadır. Bu minvalde çalışmanın amacı, küresel salgının hızlı ilerleyişinin paralelinde Yükseköğretim Kurulunun almış olduğu kararlar doğrultusunda Türkiye’deki pek çok üniversitenin kendisine rol model olarak kabul ettiği İstanbul Üniversitesinin 2019-2020 eğitim öğretim yılı bahar yarıyılı uzaktan eğitim tecrübesini incelemektir. Bu kapsamda İstanbul Üniversitesi Açık ve Uzaktan Eğitim Fakültesi koordinatörlüğünde yürütülen uzaktan eğitim süreci tüm yönleriyle birlikte anket çalışmalarının sonuçları ve diğer bazı sayısal veriler de kullanılarak irdelenecektir. Çalışmanın sonucunda, süreç içerisinde karşılaşılan tüm koşul ve gelişmeler ışığında 2020- 2021 eğitim öğretim yılı için yenilikçi bir perspektif sunulmaya çalışılacaktır.
This study centers on the distance education applications, which have played a leading role in implementing educational activities conducted by higher education institutions in Turkey and around the World during the COVID-19 global pandemic. COVID-19 and similar crises, unlike financial crises, not only affect financial conditions and job security but also profoundly impact mankind sociologically and psychologically, causing communicational breakdowns with others, even loved ones such as family and close friends. Undeniably, digital tools and methods became better known and made better use of following the COVID-19 outbreak. Parallel to the rapid increase in the global pandemic, almost all developed and underdeveloped countries decided one by one to conduct distance education. This paper examines the administrative insight of higher education in Turkey as well as the decision-making mechanism specific to CHE and Istanbul University. Within this framework, the study is comprised of four main parts. The first section involves the effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic on educational activities, the second section addresses the possible developments that are expected in the education sector after the pandemic, the third section handles the administrative style adopted by CHE during the global pandemic and the decisions made in line with this, and the final section discusses the distance education implements Istanbul University used during the 2020 spring semester.
UNESCO advised schools and teachers to use distance education programs and open education applications and platforms to preserve the continuity of education as another option besides closing schools. The pandemic has not only significantly impacted teachers and students but also parents, academic assessment systems, graduations, and education economy. These are indicated under the sub-headings of Impacts on Parents, Impacts on Educational Institutions, Impacts on the Processes of the Educational Assessment System, and Impacts on Educators.
The section titled Possible Post-COVID-19 Developments to Expect suggests that applications and studies of new ideas will be supported by universities as well as all sectors and areas with the beginning of a normalization period in light of the experiences gained during the pandemic period. Topics such as increasing the density of blended education, increasing open educational sources, and expediting the digitalization process are discussed.
The section titled Operation of the Turkish Higher Education System During the COVID-19 Pandemic Under the Coordination of the Council of Higher Education discusses the roadmap and milestones of the period starting with the three-week period starting once education activities were cancelled on March 16, 2020 until the end of the 2020 Spring Semester as ordered by the Presidency on March 12, 2020.
The section Distance Learning Actions Istanbul University Made During the COVID-19 Pandemic tells the 6 month-long successful story of the oldest university in Turkey (among the oldest universities in the world) in dealing with the pandemic. Information is given here about Istanbul University’s structure, history, and operations and the distribution of students based on registration type, age, and gender from the Faculty of Open and Distance Education (FODE) which has been instrumental in its success. Under the more serious conditions of the global pandemic starting on March 23, 2020, Istanbul University’s reflections on starting distance learning using digital capabilities in all universities with the capacity (including pre-graduate, graduate, and post-graduate studies) was made under the publication “The Distance Learning Practices of Istanbul University.” In this respect, a learning management system with its own resources for all levels of formal students was first prepared within a short period of five days under the leadership of FODE. This system, called the Istanbul University Learning Management System (IULMS), was prepared with unprecedented procedural management success with the aim of creating an interstage between Istanbul University students and teachers.
One of the most important surveys made in the 2020 Spring Semester at Istanbul University was conducted with the students after finishing the semester. The survey is important in two aspects. Firstly, the students were more informed and experienced in August in terms of the distance learning procedures. Secondly, the questions in the survey covered not only the application of the procedures but also all aspects of distance education. In this respect, the survey covered courses, the IULMS and the online course system, assessments and evaluation, teaching materials, and general aspects of evaluation.
In the equally important measurement and evaluation section, higher levels of satisfaction are understood to exist for some aspects and lower levels for others. Accordingly, the students stated having had no problems uploading the open-ended exam papers and having sufficient time allocated to them for homework and projects. However, they were also observed to be hesitant about the adequacy of the time given for the open-ended exams and of the exams prepared for measuring the information that had been conveyed during live lessons. All these analyses have great importance for Istanbul University to be able to provide a more qualified digital education in the 2020-2021 academic year. This can be said to be an important reference resource for improving the quality of the subjects that students were relatively less satisfied with and for instilling an important sense of institutional belonging.
Education is undoubtedly a dynamic that has changed and transformed structurally during the global pandemic and that according to some people has also developed. With the soaring number of cases, face-to-face education at all levels was able to be sustained using digital platforms and distance education. This has surely led to different impacts on not only the structure of education systems but also all the agents within the system. Accordingly, students, their families, institutions, the structure of academic services, and educators have all been affected during this time. Thus, the principles of digital education, which is likely to prevail for years, have started to gain more general importance in the situation. This course is expected to give rise to blended education, the quantity and the quality of open educational resources, and the digital education processes overall.
Istanbul University, one of the oldest and most established universities both in Turkey and the world, has managed the process efficiently thanks to its Faculty of Open and Distance Education, which has accumulated distinct know-how and experience over the past 10 years. Providing students with a considerably rich digital learning platform possessing synchronous and asynchronous courses, Istanbul University has been an outstanding example to quite a number of universities. Istanbul University continues down the road by taking the necessary precautions to minimize the setbacks through the feedback received from instructors and students and through cooperation with strong communication channels by focusing on improving and enriching distance education and its resources for the 2020-2021 academic year.