This week's interview is with Tolga Ozdemir, an e-learning instructional designer working with BilgeAdam in Turkey, where he is involved in corporate and academic e-learning solutions. His responses to the questions give a great deal of insight into the nature of e-learning across cultures, and the ways in which technical and infrastructure challenges are being overcome.
What is your name, and what is your involvement with e-learning?
My name is Tolga Özdemir and I work as an e-learning instructional designer. My first encounter with e-learning was when I was at the university. I have a BSc degree in e-learning instructional design.
How did you get interested in distance education?
It was simply a coincidence. When I first entered the university I was not aware of the scope of my department. After a few years in the program and after taking courses, I realized the capability of internet and e-learning.
Then I had chance to work as an intern one of the biggest companies interested in distance education in the internet, namely IBM and enocta. It was a lovely experience for me. After that, I decided to focus more on the internet as a tool for education. Nowadays, I am interested in and research some information about internet not for only education but also for marketing and for e-business
What is your favorite new trend in distance education?
I don't know if it is a new trend but I like social learning environments. Collaborative learning seems quite interesting to me. When I was in college, I was in such a learning environment which was quite useful experience.
I prefer more human, in other words, more natural, technology in distance education.
What is your favorite technology?
Well any open source technology :) Yes I support this because it gives underdeveloped or developing countries a chance of advancement. Besides this we use Flash technology as a development tool and it's also my favorite.
How prevalent is online learning in Turkey?
Well, online learning is quite popular in corporate and academic use. There are some online college programs which have been running for almost a decade. Companies also prefer online training courses in their training programs. Although it is popular, there are still some misunderstandings. There is still a large number of people, who think of online learning as a way to deliver supplementary material or a tool, and that it is not as good as formal learning.
Are online learning management systems used? Is Moodle used at all?
Of course, LMS is an important tool delivering online learning. There are some colleges use moodle but I do not know what the number is.
Are mp3 files used very often in education in Turkey? if so, how?
Yes, we suggest our customers to use audio in the courses we produce for them. Audio includes a significant quality in materials. But we still have cases in which audio is not an option because of bandwidth capabilities.
How are textbooks used in e-learning in Turkey? Are there many e-books?
Yes this is still a virgin market, I think. Of course there are some e-books, for example, currently I work in an e-book project for Microsoft Office 2007 but we need more samples in different subjects.
What are your favorite social networks? How do you view them in e-learning?
I visit some online sourceselearningeuropa.info quite often. I am a member of EDEN which stands for European Distance Education Network. I visit our offical page, http://www.eden-online.org, once or twice a week.
elearningeuropa.info is another informative web site to me. Besides these, I take a look at the pages of learningcircuit, elearning professionals user group on facebook and elearningmag as well.
Do you have a few favorite mashups or web applications that work together in innovative ways? Please describe them.
The basic and simple one answer, google tools! With its bunch of web based tools, google helps me a lot. I am in the last year of my MBA program. For example, searching for an article in google scholar and then writing and sharing my papers with my peers quite helpful for me and it is a kind of online learning!
What is your favorite quote? or, what's a book that caught your eye recently?
I start reading an interesting book named "Land of Spies" by Grigori Petrov. (You can use this link http://www.hs.fi/english/article/1101978058628). The book is about the development process of the people of Finland. I suggest you to read that interesting book.
"The person who thinks he or she knows everything is difficult to teach."