The Keyboard Picture on the Blackboard by Burcu Akyol

Part of the series: Investigating International Edtech Issues (Turkey)

My title sounds weird, doesn’t it? But believe it or not, this is how I learned what a keyboard was! It was 1993. I was 15 years-old. Computer class was an elective course at my school and in the first computer lesson our teacher drew a keyboard picture on the board and showed us the positioning of the keys on that picture. So I saw ‘enter’ and ‘backspace’ keys for the first time in my life on a blackboard.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/houseofsims/ / CC BY 2.0

My Experience

In this post that I am writing for Shelly, I won’t be telling you about the education system in Turkey. If you want to have an idea about it, here is a link: Education system in Turkey – http://www.allaboutturkey.com/education.htm

What I want to point out is the dramatic difference between the 1990s and 2000s regarding the use of technology in education in Turkey. My experiences as a student and then as a teacher…

Computers were not a real part of my life when I was a student at high school. The only things I can remember about technology are our funny computer lessons and some boys in the classroom who had Commodore 64s.

I had my first computer when I was at a university. My dad brought a computer one day and left me with it without any explanations. He just told me not to be afraid of touching it and trying things. I used to have a dial-up Internet connection which was very noisy, slow and problematic. I was very enthusiastic about using my new computer. First, I designed a very simple web site on Frontpage. My amateur web design career didn’t last for long:-) My content was silly stuff like wallpapers, funny pictures, .midi files, etc. and I got bored with it in a very short time. It was the year 1996 and at my university (ELT department) which has a good reputation in Turkey, there still weren’t any lessons related to the use of technology in education. If I hadn’t been interested in computers that much, probably, I could have never found the courage to use technology in my classes.

I graduated from the university in 2000 and started teaching at a language school. I worked there for two years and during that time I used Power Point very creatively:-) It was an unusual way of introducing topics. Lots of colourful images, animations, etc. I was happy and my students were happy. Then I started working at a private school in 2002. Since then, I’ve been working at private schools because there are huge differences between state and private schools in Turkey in terms of language teaching programs, career development opportunities and financial resources.

School Systems

In state schools, students start learning English at 4th grade. In private schools English education starts at kindergarten. Starting English education at early ages leads to better results which is motivating for teachers as well. Since state schools do not charge any money to students, they can hardly afford their essential expenses and cannot allocate money for the use of technology. The exception is in some rich areas, there are state schools which can afford technological equipment with donations from parents.

While state schools are still struggling; for about a decade, there has been a competition among private schools to buy the latest technological equipment for their classrooms. I’m saying ‘classrooms’, not ‘students’ because usually the equipment cannot go beyond being decorative objects. Most schools think that making huge investments in equipment means ‘using technology’ in education.

Future of Technology Use

However, I’m not hopeless about the future of technology use in education in Turkey. Some schools started to realize that teacher training is as important as equipping the classrooms with the latest technology and that if they don’t have well qualified and enthusiastic teachers to use that equipment, the big investments become a total waste.

Providing equal opportunities for state and private school students is another case waiting to be solved… The changes needed to make schools more engaging places for students will not be able to occur nationwide in the near future unless state schools have the necessary budget and support. Besides, in order to make the necessary changes happen we need a better teacher education system and educational leaders who are visionaries.

“Change starts when someone sees the next step.”
William Drayton

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Burcu AkyolBurcu Akyol is an English teacher from Istanbul, Turkey. She has been teaching English for nine years. She has experience in both the young learners and adult classrooms. At present she works at ISTEK Schools as the Foreign Languages Department Coordinator. Her main areas of interest are using web technologies in ELT and teacher training. She shares and tries to encourage teachers to share, on her blog http://burcuakyol.com.


Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is a teacher trainer, instructional designer, adjunct professor, and the author of The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers: Small Steps to Transform Your Teaching and Learning to Go: Lesson Ideas for Teaching with Mobile Devices, Cell Phones and BYOT. She has been recognized by the ELTon Awards, The New York Times, the Ministry of Education in Spain, and Microsoft’s Heroes for Education as an innovator in the movement of teacher-driven professional development and education technology. Recently, she was named Woman of the Year 2014 by Star Jone’s National Association of Professional Women and awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, the Twitter chat that spurred over 400 teacher chats. She has trained teachers and taught learners in over 25 countries and has consulted with organizations worldwide such as UNESCO Bangkok, The European Union aPLaNet Project, Cultura Iglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, and VenTESOL. She shares regularly via TeacherRebootCamp.com, Twitter (@ShellTerrell), and Facebook.com/shellyterrell. Her greatest joy is being the mother of Rosco the pug.

3 comments

  1. Nice to know your introduction to computer. Here in India also there is a huge gap between the private and state education system. In private system, technology has made inroad. At least computer has become a permanent thing in class room. But much is to be done and a long way to go.

    I had fascination for computer. When i was 33 or so i bought a computer. Learned some languages and the office package. And thanks to my computer, my son, who is just 4.5 years old knows about computer. He knows how to start, shut down. He opens Ms word or paint or play games. He would always insert game cd, that i usually buy for him, and would play games or write numbers or alphabets. This has really changed life. Thanks to internet life has changed a lot.

    You have nicely summed up the gap between two system. Thanks

  2. Thanks to blogs like yours and Burcu’s – our knowledge is improving every day. Even if you would compare last year and this year, the number of blogs has increased dramatically. Thank you all for this wonderful mission= spread your knowledge.

  3. Burcu,

    Thank you for contributing to this series. You have been very supportive as a friend and blogger. Thank you for the insights. I can relate to many of your experiences regarding your introduction to computers and web design. I designed a website in college as a way of acing the class and never having to attend. However, the amount of hours I spent reading a huge html code book and playing around with my website probably too more time than being in the class. However, I am happy with the experience because the knowledge I have of html has helped me fix codes in my blog.

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