With the COVID-19 outbreak, which affected the whole world, the measures were taken without delay in Turkey. Within the scope of these measures, in coordination with the Council of Higher Education (YÖK), universities took a break from education on campuses at first, and then, education activities with adaptation capability to “online education” opened the way to the education process to be pursued uninterruptedly.
At Ibn Haldun University (IHU), the Canvas online learning management system, whose preparations were completed by predicting the course of the COVID-19 process in Turkey, was put into practice as of March 23 after the necessary tests and trial classes were performed. In addition to online instruction, various activities within IHU have been moved online.
In this process, we talked to IHU’s President, Professor Recep Şentürk, about the success of Ibn Haldun University, which outperformed Turkey’s standards in online education and activities.
“Foreseeing that education will have to be carried out online, we took the necessary precautions accordingly”
- Ibn Haldun University has proactively implemented a highly effective policy in online education as well as in the measures taken for COVID-19. A number of implementations have been put into effect one after the other, from arrangements for on campus working environments to measures taken for students, from online learning to online events and psychosocial support. It is also seen that all these activities are carried out without any disruption and positive results are obtained. What would you like to say about this, Mr. President?
This happened with very serious foresight and planning. We as Ibn Haldun University, expected that at the end the pandemic will come to Turkey and education would have to be carried out online in advance so we got our anticipation measures accordingly. By mobilizing all our units, we started to operate at full capacity. Accordingly, we have strengthened IHU’s internet infrastructure.
As Ibn Haldun University, we established our Learning Management System (LMS). Then integrated BigBlueButton and Zoom programs into the Canvas program. Furthermore, all our teachers were trained and asked to conduct online trial classes. In addition, Information Technology Department produced videos on how to use these programs. Training and development is still an ongoing process.
“In this crisis, Ibn Haldun University showed that it is an integrated team”
When face-to-face teaching was suspended by by the Council of Higher Education (YÖK), we saw the benefits of all these preparations and immediately went on to the full-scale online education trial process. Then, with the decision of YÖK, online education started. Thus, education continued uninterruptedly at Ibn Haldun University. Throughout this process, all administrative and academic departments worked in full unity and sacrifice, day and night, without objecting on working over the weekend.
Thus, we started to perform all our education and management activities online in a very short time. Currently, all our academic and administrative staff work from home. Nowadays, only security personnel are on IHU campuses.
On this occasion, I sincerely thank all Ibn Haldun University’s academics and administrators for their sacrifice and efforts in these times of pandemic. During this crisis, Ibn Haldun University showed that it is a perfect family, and unity between us or according to Ibn Khaldun’s word “asabiyyah” became stronger.
“We have a well educated, devoted and talented team with strong sense of belonging”
- Ibn Hladun University is one of the higher education institutions that adapted swiftly to online education and made its infrastructure ready for it. Likewise, the adaptation of our students, academics and administrative staff to the process was also rapid. How was this entire process planned?
Transition to online education has not been easy. But we did it with the permission of Allah. This process has several pillars. Academics, administrators and students. We made our plans for these three groups. We explained the situation to our academics and students a month in advance and convinced them of the online system. We said that “Either a semester will be postponed or we will complete the semester that we are halfway online.”
All faculty and students were convinced of this. The important thing was that all stakeholders were convinced. After everyone was convinced, the transition was very easy because we have a strong, devoted, educated and talented team.
Even our library currently provides online service and meets all book and article requests online. Therefore, students do not have resource shortage while doing research and homework.
“In addition to continuing education without disruption, we have taken necessary measures to keep our students’ morals high and protect their psychological health from being affected negatively”
- Our units such as Art, Culture and Sports (SKS), Psychosocial Support Group brought their activities online. Our students participate in online activities from their homes and dormitories, and do not lag behind the opportunities offered by our university. We would appreciate hearing your opinion on this matter.
We did not focus only on our students to continue their education without interruption. At the same time, we have taken the necessary measures to keep their morale high and to prevent their psychological health from being negatively affected. While doing this, we had to take into account our thirty percent international students. Psychotherapy Application and Research Center (İPAM) and Guidance and Psychological Counseling Application and Research Center (REDAM) at our university have joined forces for this purpose. A common psychological support center was established. This center provides support to all students in Turkish and English.
In addition, our Art, Culture and Sports Department (SKS) started to carry out all its activities online. They organize online competitions, music events and entertainment programs. Our International Office also organizes such activities in English and constantly communicates and supports international students staying in our dormitories.
“Our students are our seeds”
- Professor, finally, if you have a message or advice to all our members and friends who follow Ibn Haldun University, can you share it?
In this crisis, our motto is: This, too, shall pass! Yes, like all joys, difficulties are also temporary. With the permission of Allah, we will overcome these hard days together with patience and fortitude and we will continue our education together on our new complex in autumn. Sometimes Allah subject people to the test of gratitude, and sometimes to the test of patience. This is a test of patience. By listening to the advice of our beloved Prophet, let us try to sow a sapling even if we know that we will die tomorrow or tomorrow is the judgment day. Our seedlings are our students.
“We Must Apply the Treatment Method with Busyness”
My advice is to continue working to achieve our goals in life and our real agenda, instead of spending all our time reading coronavirus news. On the other hand, to stay at home, to take the necessary precautions for health, to be ready for all kinds of scenarios without disturbing our morale. I call it a “busy treatment” method. Everyone should engage in good deeds. Give more importance to social solidarity than ever. Let us say “God is adequate, rest is temporary desire,” renew our faith, increase our good deeds, enjoin each other to the truth and patience.
Finally, while staying in our homes, let us do this with the intention of following the advice of the Prophet (peace be upon him,) a person staying at home during an epidemic would receive an equivalent reward of a martyr. Let’s do delegation (tefviz) such Erzurum’s Ibrahim Hakkı did:
Truth (God) renders the bad good
Don’t assume It (God) would render it (the bad things we were made not to like) any other way
The enlightened one watches it (happen)
Let’s see what the Companion (Guardian, Sustainer) makes
What ever It makes, It renders it beautiful
“May Allah save Turkey and the world from this outbreak as soon as possible”
I would like to end my words by heartfelt thanks to the family of Ibn Haldun, our teachers, our students, our administrators, and to wish to successfully complete the period with online education, in this transitional period. May Allah save our country and the whole world from this epidemic as soon as possible. May the post-coronavirus period make a better period for us. We have to make our plans for it already. May Allah be pleased with our health workers and managers who struggle sacrificially for us at the front line. Our prayers are with them.