TURKEY BRIEFS EUROPEANS ON DISTANCE EDUCATIONEducators from different countries have been informed about the education applications in Turkey in the aftermath of the Coronavirus epidemic. Director General of Teacher Training and Development Adnan Boyacı told his European counterparts that 107 thousand teachers participated in online international certificate programs since the beginning of epidemic while Director General of YEĞİTEK Anıl Yılmaz noted that 300 thousand users can simultaneously connect to the EBA platform.
Ministry of National Education gave online briefing to participants from different European countries about the applications in the education process in Turkey after the Coronavirus epidemic.
Director General of Teacher Training and Development Adnan Boyacı, Director General of Innovations and Education Technologies (YEĞİTEK) Anıl Yılmaz and teacher Fatma Aslınur Okay participated in the live briefing organized by the European Education Foundation and the European Delegation on social media by using the video conference method and answered the questions of educators from all over the world.
Boyacı stressed during his speech during the briefing that the 2023 vision declared by the Ministry of National Education set non-selective education as its main strategy.
Noting that lots of face-to-face strategies developed for the vocational development of approximately one million teachers in Turkey within the context of Vision Document, Boyacı said, "Our purpose is the development of principals and teachers which are a part of this process. We have activated the online education platform whose infrastructure was developed as a part of 2023Vision Document in an effort to turn this pandemic process into an opportunity. We have developed a new business model and carried the vocational development process of our teachers to an online environment. This allowed us to give international certificate to these trainings especially which are about the informatics field".
Stating that vocational development activities during the epidemic is carried out in cooperation with UNESCO and international informatics companies, Boyacı underlined that these trainings especially focuses on information technologies and coding subjects.
Boyacı said, "107 thousand students participated in the online international certificate programs since the start of the pandemic. UNESCO supported our project."
Adnan Boyacı stated that there is a large participation on youtube channels established under the names of, "Teachers are Singing for Turkey" and "Anatolian Fairy Tales."
Noting that vocational schools are producing many products especially disinfectants, masks and N95 mask machines during epidemic process, Boyacı said, "We have seen how vocational education can make a difference in society. Our motivation is very high."
1,6billion students affected
Meanwhile, Director General of Innovations and Education Technologies (YEĞİTEK) Anıl Yılmaz informed participants about TRT EBA channels, EBA Platform and live lessons.
Stressing that with the start of the epidemic 92 percent of schools all over the world were closed and 1.6 billion students were affected due to this situation, Yılmaz went on to say, "We have swiftly decided to announce the recess of schools right after the observation of the first coronavirus case in Turkey. We did not have much time for preparations. After a short period of time, we started offering distance education on March 23. Primarily, we opened TRT EBA television channels which can be accessible by every child in the country. At the same time, we developed the capacity of the existing EBA platform in a way that it could support television based distance education. In an effort to maintain equal opportunity, we made agreements with mobile phone operators to offer 8GB free internet for students. We founded a control center and a call center which works 24 hours and 7 days in order to offer uninterrupted service and held series of briefing meetings with regional and district directors of national education, school principals, teachers, students and parents with a proactive approach and we started to use teacher networks such as etwinning effectively."
Yılmaz said the Ministry started live classroom application in the following weeks and added, "At the moment, 300 thousand userscan simultaneously connect to the EBA platform. We have the capacity to simultaneously open 50 thousand classes in live classrooms which works in integration with EBA. The single daily user numbers is above 2 million. With more than 1 million clicks, the EBA platform managed to rank 6th among all education sites in the world including the ones that provide services at the global level. These clicks exceed 1.5 billion today."
Answering a question as, "how do you organize online exams or how do you evaluate student performances," Anıl Yılmaz said, "We can follow student performances and tests that they solved from the system in EBA platform but we have no tendency to turn these results in grades. We are waiting for remedial training for grading."
Answering another question about context preparation for distance education, Yılmaz stated, "674 teachers worked behind and in front of the camera in 10 television studios for television education programs. Until now, we have completed all required education contexts for the rest of the distance education term. We did not only tape lesson videos, we also shot gyms, game, music, guidance, smart break, hobby, experiment, special education awareness, family activities, parent hour etc. videos. It was a different teaching experience for all of us."
Concerning what Turkey would advise to other countries about distance education process in line with the experience it gained when offering distance education to 18 million students, Yılmaz emphasized the importance of adopting a central and integrated approach.
Yılmaz said many countries tried to carry out distance education by local or regional administrations adding that, "Other countries might appoint a special authority for the coordination of distance education and implement an integrated system."
Underlining that strong leadership played a major role in Turkey's success in distance education, Yılmaz stated, "I am not saying this out of courtesy but our Minister of National Education Mr. Ziya Selçuk did not only support this process but he personally participated in every step of the process. He worked with the team since day one, he recorded videos, produced context and wrote a book. His efforts motivated the education community. His personal contribution was a key to the success of Turkey."
Meanwhile, teacher Fatma Aslınur Okay shared her experiences with students during distance education with the participants.