blogger counters

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Interview with Tolga Ozdemir, E-Learning Instructional Designer, Turkey

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 Ă–zdemir 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.

Bogazici University

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 quite often. I am a member of EDEN which stands for European Distance Education Network. I visit our offical page,, once or twice a week. 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.

A tea break at Afyonkocatepe University LMS project

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 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."

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Stephen Downes on Web 2.0

This video presentation by Stephen Downes on how to use Web 2.0 as a part of one's continuous, ongoing learning and development process is quite good. It has been up for awhile, but I just happened upon it and wanted to draw attention to it and to share.

Stephen Downes Video

Among the things I find engaging are the points about how people interact using Web 2.0 applications, and how information flows.

Visit Learner Institute.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mobile Learning with the iTouch: AIU Breaks New Ground

American InterContinental University Online has taken mobile learning several steps forward by making it possible for students to check grades, post and read announcements, interact with elements of their learning management systems, as well as downloading instructional content.

AIU uses the iTouch to provide the new services, as well as downloadable podcasts, videos, presentations, and lectures that have been a mainstay of mobile learning. Their convenience, affordability, and the fact that they accommodate multiple learning styles has made many programs eager to provide at least some elements of 100% online, hybrid/blended, web-enabled, or even face-to-face courses.

This is an exciting breakthrough. Certainly, it is good to be able to access to the gradebook and announcements. But, there is a bigger issue at stake. AIU is using technology and tools the way that people use them in the real world, instead of trying to impose a technology on people, just because it was convenient for the institution or the service provider. So, educational products and learner needs and habits are in alignment.

Some learners have immediately embraced AIU's iTouch courses, especially if the technology fits their lifestyle. Student Chris Hawley writes:

I use AIU Mobile anytime I am away from my home computer including while I'm running at the gym, stopped at a traffic light, taking a break at work and in many more scenarios. I'll even use it when I'm at home since I generally have my phone by me more often than my laptop.

Chris did not mention what kind of phone he has, but it would not be very surprising to learn that he is used to using a phone with the ability to instant message, retrieve information from the Internet, and download information.

While the demo was for the iTouch, it is important to keep in mind that the mobile courses work on the iPhone and other data-transfer enabled cell phones.

The demo for review included three criminal justice courses, all of which allowed one to test the way in which the announcements, gradebook, and the learning objects were presented. At the same time, it was possible to test the way that the e-mail and access to iTunes worked when in a variety of settings.

Unique aspects include taking advantage of the iTouch's ability to allow individuals to have on-demand interaction (download and communication) wherever one has access to a robust wifi connection.

* View gradebook
* View and post announcements
* Access school e-mail
* Download, view and listen to podcasts, presentations, videos

The iTouch was a good choice for AIU because it has several advantages over other mobile devices:

* interactive
* larger viewing screen
* scalable texts and graphics
* can download via computer using iTunes
* do not have to have a cell phone with a dataplan

iTouch downsides:

* Can't scale all the screens, which means it's hard to read some of the text
* Limited memory and storage

Additional benefits:

*iPhone and data-transfer-enabled Cell phone compatibility
* any time, any where access

Aligning user needs and and real-world habits and patterns is what is at the heart of the success of Web 2.0, and it's gratifying to see the philosophy start to extend to mobile learning. This will not only enhance usability, but will also allow students to feel more comfortable with the process. Students will feel motivated and will be able to focus on the content instead of feeling frustrated by the technology or lack of access. iTouch-based mobile learning represents a positive integration of user needs, technology habits, and learning preferences.

Link to demo on YouTube:

American InterContinental University (AIU), established in Europe in 1970, awards Associate, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees in a variety of disciplines. The AIU network includes seven campuses: AIU Buckhead (Atlanta, GA); AIU Dunwoody (GA); AIU South Florida (Weston, FL); AIU Los Angeles (CA), AIU Houston (TX), AIU London (England); and AIU Online (based in Illinois).

Susan talks about the AIU mobile course (warning -- video cuts off at the end):


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Interview with Michael Orey, University of Georgia

Michael Orey, professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Instructional Technology at the University of Georgia, responded to interview questions on distance learning. Dr. Orey is a pioneer of online education, having developed multimedia learning materials since the 1980s. His insights and core philosophy of online education are valuable for all educators and administrators interested in motivating students and rehumanizing the online learning space.

What is your name, and what is your involvement with e-learning?
My name is Michael Orey and I am a professor in Instructional Technology. I teach online classes and have done so for about 10 years. I also consult with various companies who are engaged in e-learning in various ways.

BTW, the photo I have provided shows me sitting on the Veranda of the Jekyll Island Inn teaching an online class using Wimba’s live classroom. This was during a Distance Learning Administrator conference and I believe that my photo was taken at least 5 times during my class because attendees at the conference loved seeing e-learning in action!

How did you get interested in distance education?
It was a natural progression of using technology for learning. I have been in the field of Instructional Technology since the early 1980’s. I was originally interested in Intelligent Tutoring Systems, but my interests just keep evolving as new and more interesting technology becomes available. I was never interested in distance learning when the technology available was postal mail, but as the web has grown, so has my interest in distance learning.

What is your favorite new trend in distance education?
I have been involved with technology for learning for years and over those years I have come to believe that teaching and learning is a very human endeavor. I think that the trends in distance education I think are the most interesting are the ones where closer connections are made between students and between students and teachers. Some of those are live classrooms like Wimba and some of those are 3-D virtual environments like Second Life, but more tailored to the support of collaboration.

What is your favorite technology?
I am a big Wimba user. I have been using a live classroom for nearly 10 years dating back to an early version of Placeware which is now Microsoft’s NetMeeting. I am beginning to believe that some sort of hybrid between Wimba and Second Life would be the next great App for learning.

What kinds of instructional materials do you use in elearning?
I have or are in the process of writing/editing three wiki-based books in my field. I use these in my online classes and make them freely available for others to use. I also have developed things like quizzes and assignments in WebCT to support learning. I use Impatica for recording lectures with Powerpoint. I use Captivate to do software demonstrations. I use videos to support learning as well and have begun to put these on YouTube so that they are freely available.

How do you use textbooks in e-learning?
I have already answered this to some extent with my wiki books. However, I also teach classes where I have not written the text. In these classes, most frequently, I use a collection of readings. These readings I scan into PDFs and provide within a password protected site like WebCT to the students in my classes.

What are your favorite social networks? How do you view them in e-learning?
I am in LinkedIn and Facebook, but I am not a “native”. I seem to only go to these sites when someone wants me to link to them, so I do.

Do you have a few favorite mashups or web applications that work together in innovative ways? Please describe them.
Other than those I just described, no. As I learn new and interesting technologies, I try to weave them in. I did a podcast for a class once, but I did not have a great deal of success with it, so I abandoned it. I have used a wiki to run a class once, that was pretty successful.

BTW, the books I edit online are:
Emerging Perspectives on Teaching, Learning and Technology
This is the oldest book I have. It has evolved over the years to include video, animations, images, narrated powerpoints and other media to support the content of the book.

World Almanac of Educational Technologies
This book has as a goal to have a chapter from each country in the world so that we can all learn about how technology is being used everywhere. We only have a handful of chapters so far, but we are still hopeful that others will continue to contribute.

Foundations of Instructional Technology
This book is due to be ready in the fall of 2008. As such, most of the chapters are still just promises.

BTW, the wiki I used for a class can be found at:
This wiki shows some of the ideas I have about Open Resources and Global Issues.

What is your favorite quote? or, what's a book that caught your eye recently?
Unfortunately, my favorite quote is from my favorite author and not someone in the e-learning world. It is from Kurt Vonnegut:
Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.

Would you like to hear an interview with Dr. Orey? click here.

Interviewed by Susan.

Blog Archive