TeachUP interview series: Nihan Uçar Sarımanoğlu
What are, in your view, the main challenges teachers have to face in their new roles?
Technological developments offer teachers very useful alternatives. However, teachers encounter a different innovation every day. Of course, to start adapting this innovation to their classes, they must be open to change and learn quickly. They need to be open to collaboration. Besides, the language of the technology is mainly English. That's why they also need to know English well. Also having information is not always sufficient because teachers need clear guidance in order to integrate information into teaching. On the other hand, it is not always compulsory to keep up with a novelty or learn about innovation; so most of the time, learning or integrating is something left to the choice of the teacher. When all this is considered, nowadays I think the biggest challenge for teachers is to learn, understand, adopt and apply the technology and innovations in their classroom activities.
How can Teach-UP help to overcome these challenges?
TeachUP is a project that can help to overcome these difficulties in many ways. First of all, it provides MOOCs about the topics that interest teachers. The fact that the topics are in the areas where a teacher would like to develop her/himself and that it has intriguing content provides the teacher with the motivation to participate in an activity that includes innovations rather than technological difficulties. In addition to the content, the courses are very beneficial for teachers since they offer applicable exercises. Finally, I think the inclusion of multifaceted perspectives from different experts, especially the teachers', through the Country Dialogue Labs is very suitable for getting quick results.
Could you tell us a few words about your work, and how your organisation's experience contributes to Teach-UP?
As the General Directorate of Innovation and Educational Technologies, we are one of the technology locomotives of Turkish Ministry of National Education. Under different units, we respond to the technological equipment, competencies and needs of teachers, schools and students in general. We try to make teachers' awareness sustainable through trainings, equipment, research and projects.
My area of responsibility in my organization is on research and project subjects. I design academic research about the use of technological equipment and their applications in the schools. Then I prepare the scales to conduct the research and then collect the necessary data from the sample teachers, students or school administrators. I analyze and report that data and make contribution on sharing these reports with related organizations. Presenting these reports at specified dates and authorities is also a part of my job on that field.
In the project area, my task is to coordinate TeachUP. The project is directly related to our organization with both the research dimension and the technological steps it contains. My organization has a history on planning and implementing distance education. Furthermore, we have a large archive on Turkish teachers' interests and backgrounds. So, in the manner of coordinating TeachUP, I think my organization have contributions in many ways. For example, our experience on the subject has enabled us to be solution oriented and practical on managing TeachUP. Also, our familiarity with the project components made us take confident steps. I can say that my organization has a strength work experience with teachers, schools, students and principals and this experience determined our direction on the road map that is required to organize the tutoring model and CDLs offered within the scope of TeachUP.
And, finally, three words that best describe you?
I couldn't limit the words with three... Maybe four words describe better: self-confident, open-minded, curious and creative.