KOLT was founded in 2009 with the vision of President Umran İnan to make Koç University a center of excellence for learning and teaching. KOLT is the first center of its kind in Turkey serving to three stakeholder groups: faculty, teaching assistants and students.
KOLT has a set of workshops and individualized support for incoming faculty members to facilitate their adaptation to the student-centered learning and teaching environment at KU. As of 2018, KOLT has organized a cumulative 120 workshops, seminars and panel discussions on different issues of learning and teaching in higher education such as “active learning to drive critical learning”, “team-based learning”, and “new approaches and practices in learning and teaching”.
A total of 87 faculty members received KOLT teaching innovation grants to improve their courses by effectively redesigning their courses, using active learning methods or educational technology.
Outstanding teaching award recipients have been sharing their successful teaching practices at KU via KOLT website in order to inspire new instructors to (re) design their courses to accommodate students’ needs.
KOLT plays a growing role in educational technologies and is primarily responsible for the establishment of university-wide learning management system (Blackboard), and building and managing partnership with Coursera for the development of massive open online courses at Koç University. Blackboard is used in more than 400 courses per semester. ECON 499 Economics Capstone is the champion of the last semester with more than 650,000 clicks on course items.
KOLT has supported quality enhancement, accreditation and review of different academic programs by conducting more than fifty focus groups and survey studies among students and alumni.
KOLT runs a tutoring center with more than 100 tutors for more than 80 courses per semester. The demand for this peer-supported system has been increasing every year among the faculty and students as they see the added value in student learning. The champion in tutoring is COMP 110 Introduction to Computer Programming with Matlab whose tutors recorded 388 student visits in Spring 2018.
Foreign language conversation circles promote fluency in spoken English, French, German, Italian and Spanish for our students. Native speakers of these languages, international or exchange students, moderate these circles.
KOLT designed and started offering a new one-credit course: KOLT 101 Academic Skills Development for students who need to self-regulate their learning by improving their academic skills (setting goals, reading academic texts effectively, developing good study habits, etc.).
KOLT 500 Teaching Assistant Training Program, a series of workshops focusing on good practices for effective teaching and offering hands-on skills acquisition in the form of microteeaching sessions, is attended by 150-200 incoming graduate students in GSSE, GSSSH, GSB and GSHS every year. The program helps TAs overcome their teaching anxiety because teaching assistants get feedback from their peers and KOLT staff about their teaching skills in microteaching sessions before they conduct problems solving sessions (PS) and labs in a real class setting for the first time.
We implement a holistic approach to identify best practices and areas of improvements in order to enhance the overall quality of learning and teaching. We have been involved in the European Forum for Enhanced Collaboration in Teaching (EFFECT) project, which proposes ten principles to support the enhancement of learning and teaching at European universities. We are using those principles and many new research-based innovations in higher education learning and teaching as guidelines while conducting a comprehensive analysis of our university to determine what to keep and what to adapt and innovate for enhancing the quality of learning and teaching.
We know that student-centered approaches and the use of educational technologies are two key compenents in higher education learning and teaching. A care should be given to technology-enhanced instructional design to increase student engagement and interactivity. Instructors’ ability to design learning environments that help students gain 21st century skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, team building and working etc. will be much more critical in the future. These realities will shape KOLT’s support for learning and teaching at KU.