Constantly Evolving Digital Faculty with Strong Teaching Staff and Competent Programmes: AUZEF

The Open and Distance Education Faculty (AUZEF), which was founded in 2010 and started to recruit students in 4 programmes for the first time in 2011, has now reached 50 programmes in total, 18 of which are distance education and 32 of which are open education programmes. İstanbul University Vice-Rector and the Dean of AUZEF Prof. Dr. Levent Şahin gave information related with AUZEF’s programmes, education system, academic staff, student distribution and midterm exams to be done during the pandemic process.

Professor Dr. Levent Şahin stated that within the open education's 32 programmes, 14 programmes are at bachelor’s degree level; 14 of them are at the Associate Degree level and 4 of them are at the License Completion level. In addition, 9 of the 18 programmes in distance education programmes are at the bachelor’s degree level; 7 of them are the Associate Degree level and 2 of them are the License Completion level. Professor Dr. Şahin pointed out that in the sense of distance learning, at the bachelor’s degree and Associate Degree level, they were the only Faculty giving education in Turkey.

"Child Development at Open Education Bachelor's Degree Level is Only in AUZEF's Programme in Turkey”

Prof. Dr. Şahin said: "We can divide AUZEF programmes into two; programmes aimed at preparing students for the world of work and programmes increasing their intellectual knowledge. Among those, the most demanded business programmes are Business Administration, Health Institutions Management, Civil Aviation Management, Justice, Social Services, International Trade and Logistics Management, Management Information Systems, Occupational Health and Safety, Medical Documentation and Secretarial. The programmes preferred for the cultural accumulation are Sociology, Philosophy, History, Geography and Cultural Heritage and Tourism. Our programme, which is the most preferred of all the programmes and is only available at AUZEF in Turkey at the open education bachelor’s degree level, is Child Development. We currently have over 80,000 students enrolled in this programme.”

AUZEF is one of the richest faculties in Turkey in terms of the number of courses and the teaching staff who carry out these courses. Prof. Dr. Şahin continued as follows: "AUZEF has a total of 1515 courses, including 808 in open education and 707 in distance education, and has 1091 instructors who are responsible for conducting these courses. İstanbul University is one of the oldest and most established universities in Turkey and even in the world. Besides, ARWU, which has two Nobel laureates and is one of the most respected academic achievement ranking institutions in the world, has been choosing our University as the only Turkish university that has been in the top 500 for 13 years in a row, so it represents our country. İstanbul University is also among the top universities that have achieved significant degrees in different academic fields according to the evaluations of success ranking institutions such as QS, THE, URAP, CWTS and NTU. İstanbul University and also AUZEF have become a center of attraction being preferred because of its deep academic knowledge and experience, national and international recognition, its contribution to Turkey's economic, social, political, legal and cultural development and its strategic value and in many ways as well. In terms of quality and quantity, İstanbul University undoubtedly has a very strong academic staff. This strong academic staff is the largest stakeholder in the effective management of rare diploma programmes as well.”

"200,000 Active, 130,000 Passive, Total 330,000 Students”

Prof. Dr. Şahin noted that, AUZEF's programme increase in parallel with the number of students has a high increase momentum. Prof. Dr. Şahin said: "When it was first established, AUZEF started its open and distance education activities with 8,000 students and today it has 330,000 students, 200,000 of whom are active and 130,000 of whom are passive. When we look at the demographics of AUZEF students, the first thing I should say is that they have a significant ability of representation from all walks of society. In this context, it is clear that it serves the life-long learning activities, which are perhaps one of the core values we need most today.”

Prof. Dr. Şahin said, in general, although the Faculty has a young and dynamic student structure; AUZEF’s more than 50,000 students in the adult group should not be overlooked. And he added: “As I mentioned, the philosophy of lifelong learning is very important. The age distribution of AUZEF students is 23% of the 18-24 age group; 30% of the 25-29 age group; 31% of the 30-39 age group; 12% of the 40-49 age group; 3% of the 50-59 age group; and 1% of the 60 or older age group. When we look at the gender distribution, there is a more female-oriented student profile in recent years, especially due to the high demand of our Child Development Programme by women. According to this, 214,500 of the 330,000 students enrolled in our system are female and 115,550 are male students. Therefore, women constitute 65% of the total students.”

The New Digital Book Design: “Z-Book”

AUZEF is a digital faculty completely. Prof. Dr. Şahin shared the following information: “It is an institution that offers its diploma as an E-diploma to its students. Therefore, neither in our past nor in our future vision, we have a project to present printed books to our students. At AUZEF, we offer a package of educational materials to each student through a fully digital platform, namely the learning management system. This package of educational materials includes a digital textbook, course presentation and course video.”

Prof. Dr. Şahin underlined that there is a new digital book design that they will start their first applications in upcoming year and will be a transition of all programs in the 2021-2022 academic year. "It is a project that has no precedent in any faculty in Turkey now. This is the first time I have made it public through you. I cannot give you all the details right now, but I can share some tips. Digital learning materials designed to increase the capacity of the students on this project with our new QR Code been fed in all the books instructive and thought-provoking videos, intriguing questions, reminders, lectures, videos, reading suggestions, useful information, key concepts, podcasts, tips, online resources, real life relationship, and we will put the analysis of sample questions. So, we will offer an enriched learning environment. We have already named our book as “Z-book”, inspired by the Z letter of the 'enriched' (in Turkish). I think this project, together with its first examples, will bring an important voice in the national and international community starting in upcoming year.”

“The Possibility of a Second University without an Exam Meets an Important Need of a Society”

AUZEF, like all other formal teaching faculties, is a faculty recruiting students with the central examination, that each year the number of students announced by YÖK according to the system of exam scores and preferences. Prof. Dr. Şahin made the following explanation: "However, what makes AUZEF different and privileged from other faculties is that it accepts students without an exam within the scope of the second university. Accordingly, a person who has graduated from any associate degree program or who is currently a student can register with any one of the Open Education Associate Degree Programmes at AUZEF without any other requirement. In addition, those who have graduated from any programme at the Bachelor's Degree level or who continue their education in any Bachelor's Degree programme can also enroll in any Bachelor's Degree or Associate Degree programme as they wish; within the scope of the open education programs. I think that the second university without an exam meets a very important need of a society. On the one hand, it provides an important opportunity for young people who do not see the competencies of a single diploma as self-sufficient, while allowing them to enter the departments that many people dream of as children but cannot have education for different reasons. Of course, we should not forget the adult and elderly population who want to connect again to life or increase cultural knowledge.”

“Our Students Have Access to Educational Materials Independently of Time and Space”

Prof. Dr. Şahin said that, with the pandemic process, many universities in the World and in Turkey had to carry out the courses of formal education in formal education methods. And he continued: “Because İstanbul University has an Open and Distance Education Faculty in its structure, it has managed the process much faster and more dynamically". At present, we offer both synchronous (live) and asynchronous (educational material) training opportunities to students in over 7000 courses taught in the spring semester within İstanbul University formal education. More than 50,000 educational materials formed by our 2500 instructors are now installed in the learning management system that we have developed with our own resources as a national project. Therefore, our students can access educational materials independently of time and space. However, our live lessons continue to be taught in a way that is one-to-one in accordance with our curriculum in formal education. Moreover, all of these things are carried out at the associate degree, bachelor's degree and master’s degree level regardless of the level of education. In general, I can say that universities in Turkey, including universities that have encountered the distance education process for the first time, are successful in distance education examination. Of course, the distance education we are talking about here is not a perfect distance education process, but the distance education process of the 'pandemic period'. This is very important.”

"AUZEF Offered Nearly a Thousand Textbooks in 50 Programmes to All Students in Our Country”

"The YÖK courses project is a very important and appropriate move in terms of the vision of “Open Science and Open Access” within the framework of the digital transformation of YÖK." Prof. Dr. Şahin said: "This project, which started with the collection of textbooks under a platform within the open education faculties of İstanbul, Anadolu and Atatürk universities, will become much stronger, more dynamic and richer with the contribution of other universities in the later periods. Within the scope of YÖK courses project, İstanbul University Open and Distance Education Faculty has offered nearly a thousand textbooks in 50 programmes to all students in our country. I think that these books, the majority of which are written by equipped, qualified and expert faculty members of İstanbul University, will contribute greatly to the academic community and students.”

“The Next First Midterm Exam Will Be the Online Exam”

"In order to protect the students in the Open and Distance Education Faculty from the negative effects of the pandemic process, the first midterm exam will be given online." Prof. Dr. Şahin gave information about the exam. He said: “In accordance with the decision we have received, our students will be able to take the exam online between the dates June 1, 2020 11:00 - 14 June 2020 16:00 through a link at İstanbul University AUZEF official site to be placed on AKSIS with the user name and password. When our students enter the system, they will receive a list of the courses for the midterm exams they need to take in the spring term 2019-2020. And they will be able to start the exam for that course by selecting the course they will take from this screen. Each course will be given 30 minutes for 20 multiple choice questions. At the end of 30 minutes, the exam for that course will be completed and the grade they received from that course will be displayed on the exam screen. For visually impaired students, an additional 10 minutes will be given for each course. During the exam, each page will show a question and the answer options for that question. On the other hand, after a question is seen, if the answer is marked, or if passed to the other question without being marked, it cannot be returned to the previous question. If a rupture occurs in the system used by our student before completing the exam for any reason (internet blackout, power outage, etc.), the student will continue to the exam question when he/she returns to the system and therefore the students will be able to use the remaining time by taking into account the time interval at the time of the rupture.”

News: Elif TAŞÇI

Translation: Yasemin UĞURLU

İU Department of Corporate Communication

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