Boğaziçi University has switched to a flexible grading system for the duration of distance education
For the spring semester, teaching and learning activities at Boğaziçi University have been designed to be carried out via distance education and to be offered to the 15,692 students enrolled in its 33 undergraduate and 67 graduate programs.
Activities that cannot be carried out using distance education, such as laboratory sessions, applied classes and internships, have been postponed until the summer based on the assumption that conditions will return to normal around the beginning of June. The University will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and to revise its plans for the summer term if necessary.
The transition to a flexible grading system
In light of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Boğaziçi University Senate has decided to change the grading system for the 2019-2020 Spring semester. With this system, while it will be possible for students to receive letter grades as before, they will also have the option to choose to receive a Pass/Fail grade. This flexible grading model has been initiated for students who might experience grade-anxiety during the pandemic and also to make it possible to meet the different needs of courses themselves. For undergraduate courses that normally use letter grades, but where distance education makes it impracticable to assess the student’s performance adequately for a letter grade, instructors can, through their academic units, apply to the board of the relevant faculty, school, or institute for these letter-grade courses to be designated as pass/fail.
The existing distance education infrastructure has been strengthened
Following the suspension of face-to-face education, the Rectorate of Boğaziçi University speeded up its preparation for the transition to online education with the help of faculty members with experience in online education methods. In addition to strengthening its existing multifunctional distance education infrastructure, the University has also integrated new applications into its online learning platform, allowing communication over the Cloud Operating System. During the past week, faculty members, including the Rector and Vice Rectors, participated in remotely taught ‘training the trainer’ sessions and were able to complete preparations for the classes offered to their students.
A total of 9 three-level training sessions on the integrated use of these three systems were conducted for faculty and research assistants. Overall, 2224 participants attended these sessions.
Two research assistants from each department were assigned as contact persons to provide coordination between their departments and the helpline set up at the University’s IT Center.
Live and recorded sessions used for distance education
The University's Learning Management System, actively being used for approximately 600 courses since the beginning of the spring 2020 term, and for more than 1200 courses this year, has now been enriched through the addition of software that supplements the platform in various ways to support nearly 4000 courses. Firstly, the university purchased the license of a system that allows instructors to hold synchronous (live) classes and to share visuals. Secondly, another system that works in sync with the existing system has been renewed and its capacity has been increased. Students enrolled in the courses of faculty members who use these systems will be able to access course videos and watch them at any time through the University system. As a whole, the system has been constructed considering important features such as information security, secured usage opportunities, open-source structure, open-access education material as well as functions such sharing course materials with students, forums, discussions, homework and quizzes. In this way, it is now possible to hold live and/or recorded classes and to access many tools, such as interactive quizzes, question-answer sessions, homework, and course monitoring via presentation have been made available for the use of students and faculty.
According to the results of a questionnaire conducted at the end of the training sessions, 70% of instructors stated that they would be teaching synchronously while 30% said they would do their distance learning asynchronously.
To access FAQ’s about distance education and grading systems please go to: https://coronavirus.boun.edu.tr/en/announcements
For information in English about distance education, please go to: https://distancelearning.boun.edu.tr/
BÜREM’s expert psychologists support students
The Boğaziçi University Student Guidance and Psychological Counseling Center (BÜREM) has also opened a COVID-19 information page to protect and support the psychological well-being of students under these extraordinary and challenging conditions. The information page, which contains the suggestions of expert psychologists working at BÜREM and at the Kilyos Campus Student Support Unit (BÜSÖD), can be reached here: https://burem.boun.edu.tr/node/212. The Unit is able to provide online support to students who request an appointment. Students will also be able to have online consultations with the University’s resident psychiatrists should they feel the need.
Internet scholarships for students who require financial assistance
With the resumption of the spring semester at Boğaziçi University on April 6th, 2020, student needs are also being closely followed, especially with regard to those who are unable to meet the additional expenses of accessing the Internet outside campus. To this end, an Internet Scholarship Fund has been established with the support of the Boğaziçi University Foundation (BÜVAK). Within the scope of this Fund, in which the friends of Boğaziçi, particularly its alumni, have shown great interest, Internet support has been provided to at least 1300 students for the next two months. For information, please click here: https://coronavirus.boun.edu.tr/en/announcements/internet-bursary-distance-learning