In place of printed books, Yüce Schools provided their students with tablet PCs running Windows 7 Enterprise in order to meet the schools’ educational needs and help the schools to keep up with the demands
of educational systems in the twenty-first century.
Yüce Schools provide education at all levels, from kindergarten through high school. This includes the Yüce Primary School, Yüce College, and Yüce Anatolian High School, in addition to Yüce Science High School, which was established in 1988 as one of the first
private high schools in Turkey. Use of technology has been an institutional practice since the day Yüce Schools first opened. In Turkey, Yüce Schools have pioneered the Smart Classroom project that brought technology into the classroom and have widely used
student information systems like OkulNET and K12NET.
“Today, students’ high proficiency in mathematics and science doesn’t make much sense; it’s necessary for students to gain various abilities, like highly developed critical thinking skills,” says Kağan Kalınyazgan, CEO of Yüce Schools. “Special emphasis is
placed on variety and diversification in education throughout the world—an educational approach based on prioritizing competence skills instead of concepts, implementing skills-based teaching, and developing twenty-first century learning skills. It is one
of Yüce Schools’ most important missions to reinforce and help students to benefit from this variety.”
The educational system in Turkey, designed at the end of the nineteenth century, when education was becoming more widespread due to the manpower needs of the industrial revolution, assumes that all students are at the same level and have the same skills. They
are presented with a single curriculum utilizing the same textbooks. While this system has been redesigned according to the changing needs and tools of the information age, it still had not yet made the change to an individualized learning system, where education
is not standardized and is designed according to the level, needs, interests, and expectations of each student. Yüce Schools are ready to become pioneers of this change in Turkey. Kalınyazgan says, “It is not possible to manage this change with pencils and
paper. If we aim to teach the 12 million primary school students in Turkey through an individualized and unique education program, we must use technology effectively.”
Yüce Schools decided to develop a project to identify the educational requirements and content of a newly transformed educational system and to bring together the system design and required technologies. Kalınyazgan says, “Since education is a continuing system,
change must take place gradually. This project is like fixing a plane while in the air, so we have to be very careful with every step we take.” With this project, Yüce Schools aim to develop educational material made up of dynamic educational content in an
electronic format that can be altered instantly, according to the needs and educational level of students, instead of using traditional textbooks. To accomplish this process, Yüce Schools have chosen to benefit from one of the latest tools that technology
offers: the tablet PC.
1000 Students Using Tablet PCs
Yüce Schools started putting the project infrastructure in place at the end of 2010 and planned to implement the project for 1000 students and teachers between the third and eleventh grades. Exceptions include first- and second-graders, who are learning to
||The policies available in the Active Directory services in Windows 7 Enterprise and Internet Explorer 9 enable us to monitor, manage, and intervene securely in the use of students’ tablet PCs.
CEO, Yüce Schools
and write, and twelfth-grade students, who are preparing for university entrance exams. After the project concept was agreed upon, research was carried out on what sort of educational content to provide—content that would also include testing and evaluation.
Kalınyazgan says, “Due to the Ministry of National Education curriculum, we have textbooks that need to be covered. Because the Ministry of National Education has transferred these textbooks into electronic format, we are now able to use e-books. Because variety
is an important factor, we also need to use supporting material, so we have to work in cooperation with local and foreign publishers.”
Kalınyazgan adds, “At this stage, Yüce Schools addressed publishers’ concerns relating to digital copyright management. In all the contracts we have made with publishers, a copyright protection arrangement has been put in place to provide students with licensed
e-books, while avoiding the copying or distribution of unauthorized content. Thus, we have chosen tablet PCs with nonstop Internet access.”
Technologies for Innovative Education
Yüce Schools spent six months—a considerable amount of time—searching for appropriate technologies and a system that would be based on student needs. Kalınyazgan says, “Initially, it didn’t feel right to use existing technologies and superimpose our institutional
culture and aims on the students. This could have distracted us from our goals.” Instead, Yüce Schools searched for appropriate technological solutions, according to standards such as type and weight of hardware to be used, Internet access provision, and copyright
Kalınyazgan says, “At this point, Microsoft technology was chosen as the solution. The Windows 7 Enterprise operating system, running on tablet PCs with both Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, was selected to allow anytime, anywhere Internet access.” Students can access
the content, provided through cloud data architecture, using Wi-Fi at school or 3G at home. The Yüce Schools and Turkcell collaboration agreement provides students 3G access with APN security at a lower cost. This meant that the filters applied to student
accounts at school are also used when they connect via 3G at home. All licensed publications are accessible online and can be enriched with video and images using Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows Internet Explorer 9, and other Microsoft technologies. All of the
content provided by content owners or produced by the school is constantly updated. As students upload their own work on the tablets, teachers follow and evaluate them online.
Kalınyazgan says, “There are many reasons why we use Microsoft technologies. First and foremost is Microsoft’s vision in this field. Microsoft has a sense of social responsibility toward educational projects. The implementation of the project and Yüce Schools’
success were more important for Microsoft than financial concerns. Second, Microsoft has an integrated product range including operating systems, desktop applications, and web software that helps Yüce Schools meet nearly all its needs—all this through a single
supplier. Third, Microsoft continues to provide post-purchase technical support, either from its general headquarters or through solution partners.”
Effective User and Resource Management System
Kalınyazgan says that one of the greatest benefits of the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system is Active Directory, which allows the establishment of a user and resource management system. Also, some limitations can be imposed on students’ tablet PCs, such
as banning various ports or implementing policy-based management. Kalınyazgan says, “Because the Internet is an unlimited resource that includes both beneficial and harmful content, monitoring and management of student Internet access were our priorities for
the project. The policies available in the Active Directory services in Windows 7 Enterprise and Internet Explorer 9 enable us to monitor, manage, and intervene securely in the use of students’ tablet PCs.”
Highly Secure Infrastructure and Strong Educational Tools
Following the agreement, Microsoft began working with solution partner CodeBase to implement Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, a collaborative and sharing portal, and to develop Microsoft InfoPath 2010 electronic forms. Yüce Schools planned to implement the
project for all students between third and eleventh grades by September 2011 and aimed to provide a combined learning approach for third-graders, who have the necessary technological skills, by adopting use of both tablet PCs and textbooks. From the fourth
grade onward, a transition takes place and all educational materials become digital. Because eleventh-grade students will be in their final year of school the following year, the project development makes ongoing efforts to obtain content from university exam
Yüce Schools provided students with a wide range of applications, such as Microsoft Learning Suite and Microsoft Office 2010, that will assist them in many activities, both in school and at home. The project is based on cloud computing technology called The
Learning Cloud and run via web-based applications such as Microsoft Live@Edu, Microsoft Lync Server 2010, and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. Kalınyazgan says, “Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 specifically has solved all the problems related to printed
documents, textbooks, and worksheets. We had envisioned that textbooks and worksheets would be stored on the tablet PCs. However, we noticed that there would then be copyright limitations by publishers, and there would also be the risk that these
||Microsoft has an integrated product range including operating systems, desktop applications, and web software that helps Yüce Schools meet nearly all its needs—all this through a single supplier.
CEO, Yüce Schools
documents might be deleted accidentally or might not be backed up, if there was a problem with the device. Moreover, to check a worksheet, a teacher would have to access each student’s tablet PC manually. We have solved these issues through document exchange
on SharePoint Server. Students save their worksheets in a secure medium that SharePoint Server provides and then receive feedback online after teachers have assessed and evaluated their work.”
In this new system, teachers do not need to act like wardens to ensure that students do their homework. Instead, they create individualized homework assignments for each student according to their academic level, using InfoPath electronic form services, and
share these on the class SharePoint portal. Students complete and share their homework with their teachers on their tablet PCs. Evaluated homework can be easily shared both with students and parents in the new system. In this way, teachers can provide more
effective guidance, while parents can follow their child’s development with ease.
Yüce Schools also use Microsoft applications, running on the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system, that develop students’ creativity, their motivation to engage in teamwork, and their research skills. Students can use the Microsoft code programming tool to
create their own games, Microsoft WorldWide Telescope to explore the planets, and Microsoft Mouse Mischief to work together in groups with other students. From the fifth grade onward, students also use Microsoft Office add-ins such as Microsoft Mathematics
and Microsoft Chemistry to help them with their lessons.
K12NET, the school administration and information system used by Yüce Schools in all administrative and academic processes, also uses Microsoft technology. The system is built with Microsoft SQL Server data management software running in the background; meanwhile,
the user can access front-end web applications using Microsoft Silverlight technology. Kalınyazgan says that the project’s infrastructure, running on Microsoft technology, enables amazingly easy integration.
The project implemented by Yüce Schools is innovative, important, and interesting not only for Turkey but also for many other countries around the globe.
A Worldwide Project
The effects of the Yüce Schools project reach worldwide. For example, Oxford University Press, which has a 350-year history and delivers books in English all around the world, has collaborated with Yüce Schools on this kind of project for the first time. The
interesting nature of the project motivates publishers, large and small, to invest the necessary effort.
Kalınyazgan says that the project was supported significantly by publishers. “Apart from foreign publishers, The FATİH Project in Turkey has forced textbook and testing materials publishers to focus on technology use. While the latter decide how they will keep
up with this transformation, Yüce Schools have already become a model. Yüce Schools’ pioneering efforts have made things easier for publishers. For this reason, we have no problems with local publishers. We feel lucky, for we have established a platform that
allows us to choose to work with any publisher we want.”
Cost-Effective Budget for Parents
The project also helped Yüce Schools prevent paper waste. Kalınyazgan says, “We used to have 1000 students buying 20 to 30 textbooks and the accompanying readers. Thanks to this project, we save hundreds of trees. Each student uses a single notebook that includes
lined, unlined, and graph paper, because some activities are more meaningful on paper and students then develop better motor skills. Worksheets, which are important tools in the individualized education process, have been mostly transferred to tablet
||This project that we carried out with Microsoft enabled us to increase student motivation …. After the project began, the homework completion rate for the upper primary level increased from 70 percent to 80 percent last year to 97
percent this year.
CEO, Yüce Schools
PCs. The proportion of worksheets transferred to tablet PCs increases in the higher grades.” Kalınyazgan says that in 2010, the number of worksheets printed on school printers was 300,000 per month whereas, in 2011, this figure was less than 100,000.
Kalınyazgan says, “Parents spend significant amounts of money to provide their children with private school education. For this reason, we decided not to charge parents extra money. While budgeting for the project, we decided to assume that the tablet PCs would
have an economic lifespan of three years, even though many say that it could be four to five years. We prepared a strict budget that would not generate any extra costs for parents for the next three years, including those for the tablet PCs, 3G Internet access,
and textbook copyright fees.” He adds, “It was not easy to meet this budget. However, we told every company we worked with that we were operating with limited finances and did not want to burden the students’ parents. All content suppliers showed understanding
of our situation. Publishers gave us large discounts on initial licensing fees. We were thus able, for a three-year period, to keep the cost of the tablet PCs, Internet access, and textbook copyrights at the same level that parents had earlier paid for standard
Increased Student Motivation
Prior to launching the project, Yüce Schools tried to make predictions on how partners involved in school life (for example, teachers, students, and parents) would react to the project. Yüce Schools observed that project results are beyond the initial expectations.
Kalınyazgan says, “Students demonstrated a positive attitude toward adopting technologies that we could not have anticipated. Teachers underwent preliminary training on the use and content of the tablet PC, while students took part in a week-long, rapid-learning
process, touching and experiencing the tablet PCs on their own. The adaptation period was not long. However, we didn’t expect it to be so fast. We also thought that the project would move forward mainly thanks to the leadership of the project management team.
However, the students were ultimately the main motivators. We ended up working to keep up with their requests.”
During the implementation process, teachers opted to observe without passing judgment positively or negatively, whereas students understood the project to be a sensible undertaking and felt the need to adapt immediately. Mainly, parents had no idea where this
transformation would lead and were hesitant at first. Their feelings changed later, when they saw the positive attitudes of their children.
Although the project had just begun, Kalınyazgan already was seeing the benefits of the new system. He says, “When we accept a new student to kindergarten, this child begins his or her education with great enthusiasm. The existing education system then causes
student motivation and enthusiasm to decrease over the years.”
Kalınyazgan adds, “This project that we carried out with Microsoft enabled us to increase student motivation. Children from higher grades are also eager to attend school and to do their homework. After the project began, the homework completion rate for the
upper primary level increased from 70 percent to 80 percent last year to 97 percent this year. This positive step caused a revolution in our schools, because now children take pleasure in using available audio-visual materials and even in using the stylus.
Now our task is to sustain this motivation by enriching content, pushing forward with innovations, and taking the project to a higher level. We call the current project Learning Cloud 1.0. We aim to implement Learning Cloud 2.0 next year in cooperation with
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