COVID-19 and Spring 2020 Semester

20 March 2020

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to you to provide a further update on the recent developments regarding our educational activities that have been suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

As you know, on 11 March 2020, our University Senate decided to make a change in the academic calendar and brought forward the date of the Spring Break to 16-29 March 2020. In the meantime, the Council of Higher Education (YÖK) decided, on 13 March 2020, to suspend instruction in all higher education institutions in Turkey between 16 March 2020 and 06 April 2020.

On 19 March 2020, YÖK announced that all universities were given permission to carry out distance education in the theoretical parts of courses in all disciplines, provided that it is limited to this semester only.

Within the context of measures taken in higher education institutions against the continuing pandemic, we have planned for our University to temporarily switch to distance education in the Spring 2020 semester, which will resume on Monday, April 6, 2020. This is the only option to ensure that our students may complete the Spring Semester.

Following the aforementioned decisions to suspend face-to-face instruction, with the support of faculty members experienced in distance education practices, the Rectorate has begun investigating potential ways to implement our courses through online methods. These efforts are aimed at maintaining our educational activities as effectively as possible during the difficult period we are in. This shift in methods does not in any way imply that we will be abandoning in-class teaching, which is one of the strengths of our University. Nevertheless, we believe that the experience that will be gained during this period may contribute to our efforts to enrich teaching practices in the future.

The following summarizes the activities that have been planned or completed regarding distance education since March 16, 2020:

  1. Distance education at our University will essentially be carried out through Moodle – the Learning Management System we are currently using – which is integrated into the BUIS (ÖBİKAS) system. 

  2. To this end, the hardware infrastructure has been strengthened and the software infrastructure has been purchased to allow the integration of additional modules to provide synchronous / asynchronous video conferencing options.

  3. Training activities for faculty members and research assistants regarding the use of Moodle and other modules to be used in connection with it such as Zoom and Panopto, have been scheduled to start as of 23 March 2020. Detailed information about these workshops will be sent to you soon.

  4. Changes that might occur in the curriculum and in the academic calendar due to the shift to distance education in certain courses as well as the planning of courses that cannot be offered via distance education (e.g. labs and other applied components) will be addressed at the Senate meeting on March 26, 2020.

Finally, I would like to remind you that students should not be asked to take exams or other assessments until 06 April 2020, given that all instructional activities have been suspended until then. 

I would like to thank you all for your contributions to this joint effort and wish you good health.

Best Regards,

Ali İ. Tekcan