Turkey’s Higher Education Council (YÖK) canceled classes for three weeks starting this Monday (16 March). As far as I know, those (mostly private) universities who wanted to continue education online were chastised by the authorities. I am not sure about the reason but maybe it is about the issue of equality in educational opportunities. Not all universities are ready to continue education through online venues although nearly all universities have some kind of online education platform.
Our school, İstanbul Bilgi University, does have a strong infrastructure to pursue online education but the ban includes all of us. Although classes are canceled, administrative staff and academics are supposed to continue their work. This changes a little to nothing in my routines. I have two courses this semester. They did not take much of my time and I actually enjoy class times. Most of my stuff takes place online already. The courses, too, already have online dimensions.
Yesterday, I had my last lecture for my flagship course, Digital Cultures (PUB204), before the ban. Observing the level of already happening absentees in other classes, I have shifted the lecture to online after discussing it with my students. This is a course where I have been experimenting for ages (some of the stuff can be seen in this publication) I could easily use Blackboard based Virtual Classroom but the course aims to orient students towards the digital tools they may encounter in their work lives. So I mostly rely on publicly available tools.
I have gone through several broadcasting options. Discord seems to be very practical. Especially in easily showing the computer screen when you talk about a particular website or tool. However, it had a 50 person limit in its chat rooms and our class has more than 100 students. I saw many lecturers began to use Zoom and Zoom began to Provide K-12 Schools Free Access to Videoconferencing Tools During COVID-19 Crisis. However, I did need a larger scale mean to broadcast. Twitch could be a good option but then I said why not Youtube? Since we have been using several Google tools, I thought this could be the most practical and familiar way to go. We could keep it as a video later and the students who could not watch it live could also watch.
So we came with this in two parts:
This was not a particular lecture but a discussion of final projects. Students could participate in the live chat section.
I should add that the course is always structured as a transmedia experience. So it is never in a single platform. Offline and online practices continuously work hand in hand.
We have a private Telegram group for immediate correspondence. We are sharing course-related stuff on Twitter hashtag #PUB204
We have a private Google Classroom account to keep track of the main assignments.
Soon we are starting a Slack team account in order to collaborative work on our final projects. There will be four major projects: 1) a website building on Turkey’s internet history. 2) Another site for Turkish internet meme culture. 3) Another project is to contribute to SosyalKafa, an ongoing multimedia program on social media cultures. Finally 4) There will be a group that will contribute to Wikipedia in the Turkish language. Hopefully, I will write about the projects as they progress…
In the meantime, many friends on Twitter discussed their ideas on distance online learning options.
1. Son 5 yıldır dijital eğitim programlarının tasarım ve koordinasyonunda görev alan biri olarak, şu sıralar dersler/eğitimler online ortamlara taşınırken dikkatimi çeken ve önemsediğim birkaç konuyu paylaşmak isterim.
— Didem Yesil (@didolores) March 12, 2020
Hocalık yaptığım 3 üniversitede de (Stanford, UC Berkeley, San Jose State) derslerimi Zoom’la vereceğim. Bugün birazdan Stanford’daki küçük sınıfımla başlayacağız. Berkeley’de yüzlerce öğrenci dersleri şu an Zoom’la dinliyor. Power point, yazı tahtası, her şey dahil. https://t.co/BegTqfqog4
— Halil İbrahim Yenigün (@hiyenigun) March 13, 2020
Uzaktan eğitim icin; dersi kurgulamak ayri, teknolojiyi kullanıp bu dersleri isleyebilmek, ekranin karşı tarafindakilerle etkileşimi sürdürebilmek ayri bilgi ve beceriler gerektirir. #egt
— Melin Arzu Atasoy (@ARZUATASOY34) March 12, 2020
Okullar ve üniversiteler tatil edilmiş iken, benim de sıkça kullandığım ve oturduğunuz yerden çok farklı konularda dersler alarak kendinizi geliştirebileceğiniz 6 farklı online kurs platformunu paylaşmak ve bazı ipuçları vermek istiyorum
— Başar Kaya (@basaarkaya) March 13, 2020
A list of online education sites (in Turkish)