The term, discipline, is
usually reserved for areas of inquiry and application that have been established
over time and follow established paradigms. There is likely to be a consistency
in their basic beliefs, rationales and common principles that define the
scope and structure of the discipline. The terms of identity related to
this article, "instructional technology'' and "educational technology",
are still used interchangeably even though official definitions of each
are somewhat different.
Instructional technology, according to the current definition of the Association
for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) is "...the theory
and practice of design, development, utilization, management and evaluation
of processes and resources for learning" (Seels & Richey, 1994).
It does not matter that whatever as is named, distance education is not
a new concept. It is widely used in all over the world today, in such
countries as the The United States, Canada, Australia, Russia, India,
most of African countries and like England, Germany, Turkey, Sweden, The
Netherlands in Europe and Eastern European countries as Poland, Hungary
and Romania etc., since nearly more than hundered years. Its mean is distance
education's roots virtually, goes back to nearly 150 years (Demiray,1997).
Rajesh (2003)examined the problems associated with Information and Communication
Technology(ICT) adaptability in developing countries in the context of
distance education.He said that the communication technologies had come
to play a vibrant role in democratizing education not only in the developed
but also in the developing countries.The problems associated with the
growth of ICT that had been focused upon in his study were the political,economic,cultural
and technological factors.
In the 1930s, Turkish schools
had teaching materials such as maps,laboratory equipments,and film strip
projectors for instructional use.Until the 1940s,mostly printed instructional
materials were used in schools.Between 1950 and 1970 ,schools had technologies
such as audio cassettes and overhead projectors.Distance education was
first introduced to students in Turkey in 1974.During the 1970s,several
new teaching materials were provided for schools and introduced to teachers.In
addition,some big universities started to offer graduate programs aimed
at training professionals in the field of educational technology.Though
some of these traditional technologies are still in use to prepare students,educational
polocy makers in Turkey belive that schools must give students the knowledge
and the skills they will need in the future.Because of this,computers
have gained more importance than any other educational technology.
Although the distance education implementation in Turkey started in 1982,
the discussions about distance education in general took place as early
as 1927. This concept was thought to be beneficial in increasing the literacy
rate among the citizens in Turkey. In those years, the other countries
had already initiated the education through correspondence by mail. Due
to the common belief that people can not learn reading and writing without
a teacher, the idea of distance education was not considered in Turkey
Between the years 1927 and 1955 the distance education merely remained
as an idea. The first distance education project was initiated at the
Research Institute of Bank and Trade Law, Faculty of Law, Ankara University
in 1956. In this implementation, the bank employees were educated through
correspondence by mail. In 1961, The Centre for Education through Letters
was established as a sub-organisation of Ministry of Education, Turkey.
This scheme targeted people who wish to complete his/her secondary education
without attending courses. These attempts were extended in 1966. The establishment
of Advanced Teacher Education School followed it. Later on in 1975 and
1978 two attempts to establish an "Open University" were unsuccessful.
In other words, in Turkey, "Education Through Letters" (called
in Turkish as being YAY-KUR) was implemented as a correspondence education.
However, required efficiency and success were not attained.
Turkey has a very visible and distinguished international presence and
has one of the best known distance education programs in the World. John
Daniels (1995), in his book named The Mega-Universities and the Knowledge
Media describes Turkey as having one of the ten largest distance education
institutions in the World. Mega-universities are schools that enroll over
100,000 students each year. Countries other than Turkey having mega-universities
are China, France, India, Indonesia, Korea, South Africa, Spain, Thailand,
and the United Kingdom. These countries have all achieved remarkable success
in increasing student numbers dramatically while lowering educational
costs (McIsaac, 1996).
McIsaac (1996,.XXXI) determined that countries like Turkey that have had
large scale and successful experience with distance education, could move
forward with creative solutions to new problems and this was time for
Turkey to capitalize on past successes and look toward becoming a leader
in pioneering learning at a distance.
the Turkish Distance Education System From the Point of the Factors Affecting
Applications of Instructional Technology in Distance Education
In this section of our
study ,we shall review the Turkish distance education system from the
point of the cultural ,technological,political and , economic factors
affecting applications of information and communication technologies(ICT)
in distance education;
Culture is a complex whole that includes knowledge,beliefs,arts,morals,laws,customs
and any other capability and habit by a human being as a memeber of the
society.Language is one of the major factors that hinder the easy assilimilation
of ICTs by many developing countries. This hinders transfer of technology.
The radio and TV programmes, computer software and the printed texts are
produced in different countries bearing different cultural backgrounds.
As such, such tools may fail to impress students of another country..
With regard to cultural
patterns there are two groups of policy makers. Policy makers can be pro-implementation
or anti- implementation. It is precisely the cultural moorings of a society
that makes people either in favour of implementing technology or to reject
it. Again, in recent times it has been seen that the culture of class
room teaching and learning has been so strongly built into the psyche
of the teaching community that they often exhibit resistance in the way
of implementing technological change that forces a change in the role
of the teacher from being a store house of all learning to a manager of
the teaching-learning process.
Guy (1991,163) advises that “it may be more appropriate to identify
the cultures of the learners prior to the development of an institutional
response so that it is sensitive to those cultural forms” .Cultural
context is a critical ingredient in the development of Turkish distance
education programs,so, now let’s we examine the socio-cultural context
Numerous researchers support the importance of understanding a culture
and ways of learning, before implementing a solution: Ong (1982, as cited
in Murphy 1991b) reports that Turkey’s roots in an oral tradition,
along with its emphasis on rote memorization and the sacredness of text,
make independent textbook learning less suitable. Ong suggests that "those
who live in cultures with strong oral roots are [more] likely to express
themselves in terms of practical situations rather [than] in abstract
terms". These types of learners are doomed to failure in unstructured
Gunawardena(1996,277) notes that in Turkey, there is a high degree of
power distance, high level of uncertainty avoidance, low degree of individualism,
and a higher degree of feminine values such as quality of life, interdependence,
Understanding the sociocultural context is key to developing appropriate
support systems for distance learners. In her study of the sociocultural
context of Turkish distance learning, Murphy (199la, 225) observes that
"two elements of the Turkish culture - patronage and an oral tradition
seem to play a significant role in distance learning even in modern Turkey.".
Patronage systems which foster values of obedience, honor, and respect
for authority, are evident in Turkey's educational system through students'
respect and loyalty toward their professor and bonds of friendship and
mutual assistance among classmates. She further observes that Turkey's
roots in an oral tradition imply that people are likely to express themselves
in terms of practical situations rather than in abstract terms.
Traditionally, the Turkish sociocultural context has been characterized
by close interpersonal relationships (Imamoglu, 1987; Kagitcibasi, 1984),
The individual has a network of close ties, including the nuclear family,
relatives, and close neighbors (Imamoglu, Miller, Imamoglu, & Kuller,
1993). The traditional socialization processes emphasize obedience, closeness,
and loyalty to parents rather than independence and self-reliance (Imamoglu,
1987; Kagitcibasi, 1973, 1984). For example, by comparing the values of
Turkish and American university students, Hyman, Payaslioglu, and Frey
(1958) reported individualistic, or personal, values to be more prevalent
among U.S. students, whereas loyalty to the family and to the society
were predominant among the Turkish sample.
Moreover, in another study of values in Turkey (Imamoglu & Karakitapoglu
,1999), university students' value orientations in the 1990s included
sociocultural normative, comfort-social recognition, love-peace, wisdom,
stimulation-challenge, autonomy, arid self-respect-achievement orientations
pointing to the existence of both individual and group-related concerns.
In accordance with such studies, one might expect Turkish people to retain
their conservation and self-transcendence-related values but, at the same
time, to assume more individualistic, achievement, and self-enhancement
Cultural context is a critical ingredient in the development of Turkish
distance education programs.Turkey’s roots in an oral tradition
and patronage system along with its emphasis on rote memorization and
the sacredness of text, make independent textbook learning less suitable
.As Murphy(1996)said Turkey should use the instructional strategies and
interactive technologies, like telecommunications, that are inspired by
Turkish cultural context for enhance the interaction and designing media
based support systems for Turkey.
The situation reported by Orson and Greenbert (cited in Levira, 1997)
innovations in instructional materials at the University of Nairobi presented
a representative case study of media typical of most developing countries.
A whole university that houses six colleges in different campuses had
a single overhead projector, a single film projector and a photocopier
in its media centre all of which are shared among the six different colleges
It is illogical to expect any better situation in the elementary schools.
The traditional media of printed text, the infamous chalkboard, a few
models and teachers' own innovations such as straw abacus, and hand drawn
graphics are a common scene in the elementary schools. In secondary and
post secondary schools and colleges only one of each media equipment as
reported by Orson and Greenbert (cited in Levira, 1997) above was not
unusual. In fact, the responsibility for development and application of
media is left upon teachers, with minimum support from school authority.
Besides poverty, it could still be argued that there were causal administrative
problems that could be discussed in four areas: low economic and technological
development; lack of governing policies; excessive population growth and
The consequence of technological underdevelopment of the developing world
is an obvious cause of failure in industrial fabrications for domestic
educational media. In turn, the situation leads to high import dependency.
It is not surprising, for example, that in many developing nations school
materials such as laboratory equipment, chemicals, audio/visual materials
and sometimes even paper are imported. The recent global economic recession
is magnified in the economies of developing nations. As a result, education
in developing countries suffers cuts more than any other sector merely
for the simple fact that it is always falsely considered as a non-producing
sector. When budgets are so tight and priorities are difficult to define,
media materials have always become most vulnerable. In turn, that incapacitates
proper functioning of the school systems in general, and in particular,
the teaching/learning process.
Once a technology is selected, there are certain other factors that need
the concern of policy makers. Handling of New technology needs care and
technical proficiency. For this training is an important aspect. Many
developing countries lack enough personnel to train manpower in new technology.
Moreover, constant retraining of manpower to acquaint them with changing
technology is also important. These often act as constraints before the
smooth growth of ICT.
Patsula(1999)suggested eight practical guidelines distance educators and
online instructional designers can use to help select media to improve
the quality of their programs; these guidelines were the following; cost;
accessibility ;social-political suitability; cultural friendless ;openness/flexibility;
interactivity; motivational value; and effectiveness.
These factors can help to select media of distance education in developed
and developing countries.All factors above mentioned are very important
but we want to mention about the interaction because as Patsula say(2002)interaction
is an important part of all forms of learning and it legimitizes distance
education;Forms of the interaction are the following;1.learner-content
interaction;2.learner-teacher interaction;3.learner-learner interaction
Learner-technology interaction is not part of the formal design of Turkish
distance education (OEF) programs. But, while a well-developed distance
education requires an infrastructure of telecommunications and information
technology, Open Education Faculty (OEF) of Anadolu University system
has a moderate infrastructure and great capacity and a well-developed
distance education system. OEF, already, strives to employ some distance
education one-way technologies, such as video, computer, Internet, in
distance education processes. The major problem area concerned with the
learner-technology interaction in OEF is to apply instructional strategies
and interactive technologies that are inspired by the Turkish cultural
context, practices, beliefs.
Learner support related to technology will depend on the type of technologies
used in the distance education system. Garrison (1989) describes the development
of distance education three generations of technology; the first generation
uses primarily correspondence, delivered through the regular mail system.
In this system the availability of interaction becomes critical. Thus
the provision for interaction between the student and the tutor is important.
The second generation of technologies provide for real time interaction
and are exemplified by audio, audiographics and video teleconferencing.
Because these systems provide for real time interaction, what is critical
is the quality of interaction. The third generation technologies are microprocessor
based technologies such as computer conferencing. In these systems the
quality of interaction with the group becomes important and support systems
must facilitate the collaborative learning process.In some studies, technologies
that deliver instruction to distance learners are often classified as
two-way interactive or one-way non-interactive (Murphy, 1996).
Gunawardena (1996) observes that if telecommunication technologies are
to be used to move distance learners from their dependency on instructors
to take more control of their learning, then, adequate support systems
must be provided to support these learners who have been influenced by
the patronage system and oral tradition in Turkey.
Technologies used to deliver distance education programs in Turkey are
typically one-way and she integrates technologies in distance education
primarily by combining the one-way technologies of text and television.
Turkey not using primary correspondence delivered through regular mail
system still is not even in the first generation. Therefore, the main
problem area is more the availability of interaction than the quality
of interaction or quality of interaction with the group.
Learner-support related to technology is depend on the type of technologies
used in the distance education system OEF. Learner-technology interaction
is not part of the formal design of distance education programs of OEF.
But in addition to the facilities for live TV broadcasting, research is
being conducted at Anadolu University for the utilization of new communication
and computer technologies in the distance education activities of Open
Education Faculty. A videoconferencing center is established to use this
technology for live lecturing and tutoring. Using internet as a medium
for course material providing and communicating with students is another
goal to increase the quality and the effectiveness of the education. The
computer supported teaching is being improved utilizing the capabilities
of new multi-media computer technology
The perceptions and attitudes of a political system greatly affect the
acceptance and growth of technology in any society. The same holds true
for all the ICTs relevant to Distance Education. A political system conscious
of the payoffs of ICT for the enhancement of the educational profile of
a country will frame appropriate policies for the adoption and dissemination
of ICT through out the length and breadth of the country. ICT should always
be selected in accordance with its end result, that is the extent to which
it can bring about positive pedagogic out comes.
The word is moving towards democracy.This form of social contact is definition
based on the flow of infomation that is frelly and easily accessible the
citizens of the country in question.The growth of ICTs will be generally
welcomed in a democratic society, because, ICTs are known to democratize
societies through wider dissemination of information. However, in a society
in which an autocratic form of government prevails, growth of ICTs may
not be viewed with favour because, greater access to information may encourage
interest in creating more democratic space in the society.
The problem is that “there
are significant levels of physical, linguistic, cultural, political and
economic diversity within developing nations. The developing world lacks
the relative homogeneity which characterizes students, systems and societies
found in the developed world” (Guy 1991, 162). Thus, more and more,
distance educators are being asked to design distance learning systems
to suit local environments in an effort to solve the political problems
unique to each nation.
Distance education initiatives must carefully work under the political
policies of existing governments.Many nations are also eager to participate
in world trade and become more prosperous. However, political and social
organizations within the nations may be concerned about globalization
as a threat to their way of life. They are faced with the dilemma: we
access the world, but the world invades us (Evans 1998).
The Directorate General of Press and Information on the Turkish Republic
pamphlet <<Education in Turkey>> cites the following Turkish
educational goal :
Education in democracy: Efforts will be directed towards instilling
in students the required knowledge for democracy; to create a society
that is strong, suitable, free and democratic, with citizens possessing
the necessary knowledge relevant to administering the country, with developed
feelings of responsibility and respect for moral values.
The growth of ICTs will be generally welcomed in Turkey as a democratic
country, because, ICTs can democratize Turkish society through wider dissemination
of information.The political organizations in Turkey should be concerned
about globalization as a threat to their way of life.
In distance education, cost is an important factor that guides the adoption
and growth of communication technology in a country.The democratic society
continously requires qualified and component citizens.Even most developed
countries can not allocate sufficient amount of their budget for meeting
the increasing demand in education.A series of studies of experts from
Europen showed that the costs of distance education are almost twice cheaper
than the traditional one.Therefore,the modern society need a lifelong
education for its citizens that could be performed through the distance
Developing countries often lack the initial allocation as well as matching
funds to make feasible investments in ICTs. Many countries often acquire
costly technology without making provisions for building sufficient infrastructure
to run them.
Most developing countries are constrained by resource scarcities. Even
where the importance of ICTs is recognized, allocation for the development
of these is at best paltry. Due to this, many developing countries are
forced to depend on mostly traditional means of communication. These are
limited in their efficiency.
The Developing countries are vitally dependent on substantial foreign
assistance to ensure the development of ICTs. Often it is found that it
is very difficult to invite the attention of donors on ICTs. These countries
are perennially short of Foreign Exchange for acquiring latest technologies.
Most of the developing countries are undergoing Structural Adjustment
Programmes under the auspices of the IMF.
Cost-efficiency of an ICT
is another major factor that is important that determines its growth.
Developing countries have to ensure that such a technology is adopted
that is easily accessible to the target group and also fulfills all the
functions that are expected of it. Such a scenario essentially implies
that a costly technology need not always be the best technology. However,
it is often seen that Developing Countries often invest in the latest
technologies without considering whether the target audience is effectively
reached or whether the target audience is interested in the technology.
Economic factors also affect
the application of new ICT in distance education.Developing countries
have a constant paucity of funds especially for the application of new
ICT in distance education.
Like other Turkish public universities, Anadolu University and its distance
education branch, the OEF, are financed by the government. All academicians
and administrators’ salaries are paid through government funds.Expenditures
for all OEF operations including printing books, television and radio
productions, mailing, examination costs, administrative costs and salaries
come from Anadolu University’s operating budget. Revenues to the
university come from government allocations, foundation income and student
fees. Although the percent from each of these areas can vary from year
to year, the majority of the income comes from the government.
Murphy (as cited in Eastmond 1994, 88) reports that the Turkish Open Education
faculty was able to provide distance learners with a university education,
judged at roughly one-sixth of the cost of providing a conventional university
Turkey as the other developing
countries is undergoing Structural Adjustments Programmes under the auspices
of the IMF and is constrained by resource scarcities .It is forced to
depend on mostly traditional means of communications.Distance education
in Turkey is predominantly a government financed activity and its expansion
owes much to the willingness of Turkish governments to support distance
The perceptions and attitudes
of Turkish political system greatly affect the acceptance and growth of
distance education technology.It is obvious that the attitude of Turkish
policy makers is a very important factor that can affect the growth of
communication technologies of distance education in Turkey
There are very important
problems that hinder the growth of new information and communication technologies
in the developing countries.In any developing country, political ,economic,cultural,technological
and,human and administrative factors can play a major role in the growth
of information and communication technologies .The growth and application
of new information and communication technologies in the field of distance
education in developing countries is fraught with immense difficulties
Because of the speed with which distance education (open education) was
conceived and implemented there have been problems not unlike those faced
by other developing countries. Although Turkey considers itself part of
the European community, its educational problems place it rather with
its Asian neighbors.
Today ,two great challenges face Turkey;1)fully integrating into the word
economy , 2)accelerating its economic and social development.Turkey,such
as the other developing countries is undergoing structural adjustment
programmes under the auspices of the IMF.In Turkey,distance education
such as other developing countries is predominantly a government financed
activity and its expansion owes much to the willigness of governments
to support distance education.The single greatest obstacle to full implementation
of open education in Turkey is lack of resources.
The perceptions and attitudes
of Turkish political system greatly affect the acceptance and growth of
distance education technology.It is obvious that the attitude of Turkish
policy makers is a very important factor that can affect the growth of
communication technologies of distance education in Turkey.
Cultural context is a critical
ingredient in the development of Turkish distance education programs and
two elements of the Turkish culture;patronage and an oral tradition seem
to play a significiant role in distance learning even in modern Turkey.
Technologies used to deliver distance education programs are typically
one-way(non-interactive) and Turkey integrates technologies in distance
education primarily combining the one-way technologies of text and television
.While a well deveoped distance education requires an infrastructure of
telecommunications and information technology,Turkey already has a moderate
infrastructure and a well developed distance education system,but,it is
a very important problem to select media for Turkish distance education
system and human and administrive factors play a major role in the growth
of information and communication technologies in Turkey such as in other
1)The appropriate governmental
role in a developing country should be an evolving,adaptive one that responds
to the country’s training needs for instructional technologies,which
will change as the country’s level of economic and institutional
2)Despite the budgetary restrictions which confront all developing countries
,Turkey should seek new ways to use available technology in the most cost
3)Turkish distance education
system should seek other new financial sources such as sponsors’
funds,means proceed from the activities fulfilded by institution of distance
eductionresources to support distance education.
4)In Turkey,novelty of an
information and communication technologies should be the least important
criteria that should guide the political society in deciding upon the
information and communication that should be selected ,and distance education
initiatives must carefully work under the political policies of existing
governments and policy makers of Turkey.
5)To enhance the interaction
and designing media-based support systems for Turkey,the instructioal
strategies and interactive technologies ,like telecommunicationsthat are
inspired by Turkish cultural context,must be used.
6)To select media for distance education is very important problem for
Turkish distance education system,so,Turkish distance educators and on-line
designers should take into consideration the following eight practical
guidelines;1)cost,2)accessibility,3)social-political suitability, 4)cultural
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