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Blended approach simplifies logistics of teaching

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Bahçeşehir University is located in the heart of Istanbul at the crossroads between Europe and Asia. It’s an international university that hosts students from 70 different countries. It promotes intercultural relations and encourages its students to become citizens of the world.

Dr. Ellen Patat teaches Communication Skills and Academic Reporting (levels I and II) at Bahçeşehir University. The courses aim to develop students’ professional English communication skills, including all four macro skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Ellen explains, “Writing, in particular, is essential to students’ cognitive and academic development. Exposing students to original academic texts helps them improve writing skills and develop critical reading skills. At the end of the two courses, students should be able to organize their ideas cohesively and coherently in a written text using citations and references.”

Communication Skills and Academic Reporting (levels I and II) are core courses during freshman year. Students have to pass them in order to graduate. This semester there are 2,100 students taking Communication Skills and Academic Reporting (level I). They are divided into 63 classes and taught by several instructors simultaneously. Some instructors teach five or six classes per semester containing 30 to 40 students each. itslearning helps them manage such large numbers of students.

Bahçeşehir University introduces itslearning

Last semester was the first time Bahçeşehir University used itslearning in the Communication Skills and Academic Reporting (level I) class. Standardisation was a priority and a must while piloting this new blended version of the course. There was a committee responsible for ensuring that class activities were the same for all students. itslearning facilitated the standardisation process by providing access to the agreed upon course materials.

Ellen and her colleagues lectured during their two hour classes and then extended the courses online using itslearning exercises, quizzes, tests and surveys. They provided written feedback on every paper submitted as well. Students were asked to record and upload oral presentation videos on itslearning, or to provide links on itslearning to their presentations on other video-sharing platforms.

Students appreciate itslearning’s flexibility

“The flexibility itslearning provides – access whenever and wherever a student wants – motivated the students to take part in the activities online,” Ellen says. “Students are so dedicated to technology that having the opportunity to spend time interacting with a new system made ‘traditional’ tasks more interesting and engaging. Another positive factor for students was being able to immediately see the answers and the scores for each activity.”

Teachers can focus on the quality of teaching instead of logistics

Ellen mentions that she still has to spend the same amount of time reading and assessing student work, but itslearning facilitates this process. “itslearning saves me time. Last semester I had about 40 students enrolled in each section. itslearning made it easier to follow the individual performance of each student and saved a lot of time when administering progress reports. Previously, an instructor had to register each student’s grades from multiple tasks, which inevitably took time, especially with large classes. Now, using itslearning’s automatic registration and reporting functions, an instructor can get an overview of the performance of individual students as well as the entire class (including all related statistics) in just a few clicks,” Ellen concludes.