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Closing Remarks of the Workshop OnGlobal University System & E-Learning

Author(s): Ali YAIZCI

Journal: The Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education
ISSN 1302-6488

Volume: 8;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 206;
Date: 2007;
Original page

The Workshop on Global University System & E-Learning was held on the 19th of October, 2006 at TOBB Economics & Technology University. The workshop attracted around 40 people from the Ministry of Education, Turkish Satellite Corporation (TURKSAT), Anadolu University, and various academic staff from different universities in Ankara. All together, there were 8 presentations each followed by a discussion. Main contributors, their brief CV’s, and the workshop program are included in the preceding part of this document.Here, I would try to put together various important points and remarks made by the speakers according to the order in the program.The first talk was presented by Professor Tapio Varis, Acting President of GUS, about the Global University System (GUS). He started his talk by reviewing the trends of the 21st Century in terms of education and technology. He emphasized the need to humanize the globalization process by adding “solidarity”, “sprit of caring for”, and “sharing with others”. It was stated that, content development, especially for educational purposes, is a difficult issue in achieving this process. Professor Varis, declared “digital literacy” as being a right for all. He mentioned “phonetic alphabet” as a tool to alleviate the problems associated with the communication among different nationalities. He mentioned the need to exchange ideas, opinions and experience to create a successful working environment and stressed the importance of cultural issues such as quality assurance, translation and assessment. He also talked about open courseware, “education for all”, offered by MIT and UNESCO. Finally, Professor Varis summarized the mission of GUS as to offer a global quality education (described as a renaissance education) program for developing countries and/or regions by taking into account cultural sensitivities.The second talk was presented by Professor Takeshi Utsumi about the Global Collaborative Research & Development. He started his speech by reviewing the trends of the 21st Century in accordance with the technology and education. The shift of technology from analog to digital; change of the culture, commerce and life style from local to global; and the emergence of new knowledge as a result of human’s creativity as opposed to obedience in the past were emphasized. As a result of this shift, it was mentioned that yesterday’s industrial society turned to be a modern knowledge society and innovation was the obvious result of “freedom of thought” and “independent thinking”. He mentioned 3B’s (Bed-Bus-Bathroom) as usual places to start innovative ideas. He also talked about the creativity process and described 3T’s of it as being “talent”, “technology” and “tolerance”. In the second part of his speech, Professor Utsumi described the so called Global University System (GUS). It is a worldwide consortium to eradicate poverty and isolation in the world by offering a world wide learning network to the isolated parts of the world. Its ultimate aim is to offer a GUS degree that would be recognized all over the world. He explained two of the approaches put into action, GLOBAL GRID Network and GLOBAL LECTURE HALL systems, to realize GUS. He emphasized the importance of Optical Fiber Networks. At the end of his speech, he talked about the African Consortium GLORIAD, and added that a similar infrastructure can be established in Turkey by starting GUS working Groups within the country. He also pointed about various financial aid programs by the Japanese Government and others to support GUS related projects.The third talk was presented by Dr. Cengiz Ultav of Vestel Company. He gave an over all view of his company and its research and development efforts. He stated that, Vestel, being a major export company of household products and digital equipment in Turkey, is already part of globalization efforts and will continue his support to research in e-learning and training by developing close ties with the universities.The next talk was given by Mr. Heikki Hallantie about the recent developments in e-Learning in Finland. He started his presentation by giving demographic information about Finland. He described universities as fundamental regional players in e-Learning and education in general. He pointed out that ICT can be considered as a social communication system instead of technology only. He also suggested that the letter ”e” in e-learning should be read as ”enhanced”. He summarized the Bologna process and described the importance of the harmonized curriculum. He continued his presentation by giving an overview of the Finnish Education System and talked about the Finnish Virtual University System and its activities. He mentioned the development of e-Learning material, e-Learning courses, ICT training and local support services as the local activities at each university; and thematic networks and development projects as inter-university cooperation; and the design of common portals and support services and common agreements, and international cooperation as national level activities. He also gave an overview of the ICT developments in Finland and talked about the web course registration system, the common learning platform developed in 2004, and Managed Learning Environment (MLE) initiative in 2005. He talked about the eTTK project at the Helsinki Technology University. He described eAGE, MLE, CMS (Content Management system), Quality System and URTHA Project Management System as parts of the eTTK project and explained the rationale behind the eTTK project, one of which was the survival in the global and local community. He described the MLE in detail and talked about some of the features developed for the environment. In this respect, he described the Noppa-portal as a personalized front page for students and teachers and course home pages, Oodi as main student and course registration, Optima for e-Learning and groupware operations, and Single Sign On with Shibboleth technology. Finally, he emphasized that universities should be regional players; and institutions should move from formal hierarchies to open networks, and there should be global competition and cooperation among the universities.The fifth talk was given by Prof. Dr. Dursun Gokdag. His speech was on the historical overview of the Distance Education (DE) in Turkey -which is unknown in the literature- to cover the period from 1924–1982. He described the DE developments in three phases as Thought Phase (1924–1953), Experimentation Phase (1953-1974) and Institutionalization Phase (1974-1982). He mentioned that early suggestions on DE came from two different sources in this period, namely, invited foreign experts, and Turkish Ministry of Education. In this respect, he mentioned John Dewey as the first invited expert. Prof. Gokdag mentioned that in his report entitled “Report about Turkish Education” John Dewey suggested DE education as an alternative for teacher education in 1924. He also talked about the second report prepared by a commission in 1935 which suggested correspondence courses for educating people living in far away places. He discussed the positive roles of various National Education Councils (NEC) held during that period. He talked about the activities held in Experimentation Phase between 1953 and 1974 which consisted of 6th and 7th NEC’s, a Banking Course organized by Ankara University Law Faculty, establishment of Correspondence Teaching Centre, and two private sector initiatives, Limasollu Naci Publications and FONO Distance Education for distance language training. He concluded his talk by summarizing activities held in the third Institutionalization phase where “Correspondence Higher Education Center” and “Experimental Higher Teacher School” were established in 1974 and terminated in 1975. As a continuation of this talk, Prof. Dr. Ugur Demiray gave a presentation to cover the DE activities after 1982. He said that, at the Anadolu University, Open Education Faculty was established and started DE in the 1982-83 years by enrolling 29,445 students, to the Business Administration and Economics Departments. He defined the distance education and talked about various DE activities coordinated by the Ministry of Education, and DE by the private institutions. He pointed out the increased use IT technology in DE programs. He also mentioned the problems faced by the implementers of DE programs, and claimed that problems encountered in developing the DE system had internal as well as external sources. He also listed some of the DE programs offered at Anadolu University including Nursing, Foreign Languages, Math, Sciences, Tourism, and Business and Training programs for the private sector as a part of Open Education Faculty (OEF) program. Support from TV and broadcasts and design of instructional material were also emphasized in running these DE programs. He also mentioned the e-Learning materials available to the students at OEF such as CD exercises, various educational software, CAI materials, WebCT applications, e-exercises, e-books and so on. He finished his talk by giving some statistics about the students enrolled in OEF at Anadolu University.Dr. Senol Duman from Turksat was the next speaker at the workshop. His talk was about the e-Learning infrastructure provided by Turksat. First, he described Turksat Company and its activities and stated that Turksat is a publicly owned and privately operated company and is the only authority in Turkey that can manage relationships with international satellite organizations. He mentioned recently owned Cable TV organization and services offered to public. In this respect, he noted that, Analog & Digital Cable TV Network has 1.2 Million subscribers in 21 cities. He also provided some data about the Cable Internet–Broadband Internet services currently available in 14 cities in Turkey. Then, Dr. Duman discussed the e-Gov Services planned and he said that Turksat was in charge of designing a portal for Turkey as a single entry point to e-Gov services in Turkey. He mentioned the 7 major e-Government projects run by the company. He also talked about the active Turkish Satellites and their coverage areas. Finally, he talked about the VSAT Networks as a major communication technology in e-Learning and stressed its use in the classroom (Remote Site), as an educational portal, and a Hub and network control center. He also pointed about that VSAT technology can enable fast and easy deployment of networks in any location by providing a highly reliable and quick connectivity for remote areas.The final talk was given by Prof. Dr. Nizami Akturk on DE in Primary and Secondary Schools. He started his talk by giving some statistical data on Turkish educational system, lnternet use and IT literacy. He noted that there are about 406,000 computers and number of students per computer is about 34. He mentioned that an Information Portal has been launched in 2006 for e-Learning with the purpose of integrating e-Learning techniques to education which provides educational software to support curriculum, and to provide educational contents for students, teachers, administrators and parents. He also talked about its currently available services such as Foreign Language Teaching, Vocational Education, e-Mail and web pages for students, and search engines and links to other useful cites. He mentioned about the protocol between British Council and MONE in order to be a partner in global gateway site. He said that education portal is an information source for students, teachers and parents and is available to Turkish primary and secondary school students. He talked about as an environment for students and teachers to share their ideas and help to each other. Finally Dr. Akturk summarized the Virtual School that will be launched in, to support students and teachers in formal education with web-based teaching and learning materials, and to support lesson activities with web-based materials.
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