I have been frequently using some of the educational technologies in my classes to increase student engagement and learning. Here, I will briefly explain why and how I use one of them:

How do I use Socrative Student (a digital student response system)?

In the past I used some other alternatives such as Zoom Poll, Poll Everywhere, Google Forms, etc. Now, I prefer to use Socrative in the following way:

• After a subject is studied in class and enough practices are completed on the board, I ask questions/problems and let students answer them digitally. The question appears both on the screen and students’ devices (phone or tablet) via this application.

• I prefer asking questions one at a time. (It allows asking a set of questions as a quiz if you wish.)

• At the end of the time allowed, I show the distribution of the answers, and make any comment for the incorrect answers. Then, I show my correct solution in a slide before I ask the next question/problem.

• At the beginning of a semester, I use this activity anonymously and non-graded, and let students get familiar with it and feel comfortable.

• Sometimes I form pairs (or groups) of students and ask them to work on the questions together. This allows peer discussion and learning from each other.

• This tool offers only three types of questions: multiple choice, true/false, and short answer. Although the name of the latter type is “short answer”, it can be used for open-ended questions and long texts (or calculations) can be written by students with no problem. For example, I have experimented and had no problem for an entry of a text of 700+ words.

• Later in the semester, I use this activity in the graded format. However, I announce this at the beginning of the class.

• Please note that there are numerous alternative tools which are similar to Socrative Student: Zoom Poll (only multiple-choice type questions), Google Forms, Kahoot, PollEverywhere, … which offer more variety of question types.

Why do I use Socrative Student?

There are two major reasons:

1. Before I had one of these response systems, I used to ask a question verbally in a traditional way, and I could hear from only a few students. I could not know if the other students could or could not answer the same question correctly. When students answered sequentially, they could be influenced by the previous students’ answers. Besides this influence factor, time management was poor in the traditional way as it took long time to hear from many students, one student at a time! Using Socrative Student allows me to see the distribution of all students’ answers at the same time. This way, I can decide on how to proceed. If the success level of the class is high, I can move on to the next question/problem. If not, I revisit the subject and emphasize the parts that were not understood well.

2. It allows each student to see his/her progress immediately because of the feedback system. Especially after seeing my answer and solution in the slide afterwards, they will conclude one of these: a) they understand the topic, b) they now know it better after my solution, or c) they realize that they do not understand/comprehend the topic and need to study harder and engage to the in-class discussions and out-of-class assignments.

Prof. Murat Sözer
CE, Mechanical Engineering

We found ourselves unexpectedly in the online teaching routine when the covid19 pandemic hit in Spring 2020. We experienced many challenges and kept building new skills for online working, teaching, and collaboration. Spring 2020 semester started face-to-face, ended online, and after two online semesters we are back to a hybrid of face-to-face and online teaching in Fall 2021. One remarkable fact is, we all evolved and adapted rapidly to the new forms of teaching with success in these challenging times.

I experienced new tools from the Blackboard course management system and learned to use digital devices more effectively for teaching and learning. In online teaching, tests need to be online as well, and most of us learned about and utilized Blackboard tests and pools. I used spreadsheets to populate questions from different templates in large volumes with formatted numeric answers to create the pools. These pools enabled me to construct tests with randomized questions supporting numeric answers, multiple answers, and fill in the blanks. Bi-weekly quiz tests, mostly auto-graded, helped students to timely follow the course content. I value this acquired Blackboard experience and keep using the online quiz tests in the current, Fall 2021, hybrid semester as well.

My in-class teaching routine was sharing projected slides and whiteboard use. Online teaching forced me to explore the use of digital devices in different settings to replace the good old routines. Integration of Zoom video conferencing, Panopto cloud video storage and Blackboard course management system enabled me to record my lectures with ease while displaying my slides from the computer or tablet, and handwriting from the tablet. My teaching evolved to use sparsified lecture slides, which are filled with handwriting notes during the lectures. My published lecture slides with the handwritten notes after the lectures were also well received by the students.

In addition to lecture recordings, I found short video lectures on specific topics valuable as well. That presents several benefits to the students by creating a pool of indexed video lectures with easy and fast access to information needed.

I believe online teaching routines will be here to stay and integrate well with our traditional in-class teaching routines, and eventually transform our teaching towards flipped classroom settings.

Prof. Engin Erzin
CE, Computer Engineering

Like many faculty members at Koç University, I had no real experience with teaching an entire semester’s worth of material online. One thing that was important to me was to create an atmosphere online that shared similarities with what I did in a face-to-face setting. In this regard, the breakout room option of ‘Zoom’ was particularly helpful during the virtual meetings of my undergraduate courses. I found that it was rather versatile and used it regularly for:

Student teamwork. In one course where students have to work in the same team throughout the semester, it was important to give students a setting to interact with fellow team members during class-time. Through their meetings in preassigned breakout rooms, they were able to discuss various tasks of importance to their group project as well as to receive feedback from faculty members.

Active participation. Active participation is desired but can be difficult to obtain in a large (virtual) setting with many students. Thus, students were randomly distributed to various breakout rooms (3-5 person on average) at different meetings in order to give students the possibility to discuss questions and problems relating to course content within a smaller audience. During my visits to the breakout rooms, I was able to see many students actively discussing the material and hear high quality deliberation. Many times, students who did not open their cameras or were mostly quiet in general meetings became highly involved in these rooms!

Simulations. Given that I was teaching a course on international negotiations, finding a setting to conduct negotiation simulations throughout the semester was very important for me. These simulations can clarify abstract concepts. The breakout rooms again provided a useful venue for simulations during the pandemic. Thus, I was able to have students conduct negotiations on a variety of topics with each other in pairs or in teams within the breakout rooms.

Assoc. Prof. Reşat Bayer
CASE, International Relations

Since March 2020, we have gone through an extraordinary period which brought numerous challenges to teaching & learning worldwide. With the outbreak of the pandemic, educators had to work hard to find ways to support their students to be able to maintain their teaching standards. This eventually forced us all to explore our limits to use educational technologies in a better and more effective way.

In ELC, we have been incredibly innovative to support our students and achieve their language learning goals throughout the pandemic. As an ELT instructor, I have frequently made use of Blackboard and Zoom along with other very practical online applications. These applications not only helped me in my continuous interaction with my students during and outside the class time but also ensured my students’ motivation and engagement in the activities, so I included these online applications and some Blackboard tools in my course design as well. In the ELC department, in general, we used Blackboard, Zoom and some Google apps frequently and very effectively in all our teaching and assessment practices.


Blackboard has become a central online platform for the students of Koç University where they could find all the relevant course materials, their homework, announcements, and took their exams remotely. In this regard, I should admit that it eased the instructors’ job to a considerable extent in ELC, too. Blackboard proved to be very useful in sharing course materials, videos and other items with students without disruption, and in creating several types of exams by ensuring exam security. I used Blackboard very often to support my students’ self-study by offering them various materials on Blackboard. It became like an online resource center for their studies. I think, one of the very useful tools on Blackboard is “the discussion board” tool which I used to let the students share their thoughts on a popular topic and discuss it with their friends. This fostered their output skills in English further and helped them develop critical thinking skills in the target language. Besides my individual experience with my own students on Blackboard, I contributed to my department as a member of the EdTech team and was responsible for creating various types of exams with several types of settings. Thanks to these test settings on Blackboard, I was able to create online exams ensuring the test reliability and validity as much as possible within the limitations of remote testing, which is indeed a hard task to achieve while we were not able to control their test environment. In addition to all these, Grade Center tools allowed us to set up the Grade Center according to the needs of our department’s new program. I was also able to organize the course content according to our program needs thanks to Blackboard. Although it requires improvement in some areas, I think Blackboard contributed a lot to the successful management of our courses and examinations.

Google Drive & Google Docs

I have used Blackboard in combination with Google Drive where students could upload their homework and receive a detailed feedback on their written work. Students have had access to the material on the Drive through a link provided on Blackboard. Google Docs also proved effective for interactive studies during class time. I often shared a word document which the students could co-edit synchronously. It facilitated eliciting written answers from the students and gave me the opportunity to deliver instant feedback to their written work. Google Docs has been a very useful tool for peer-editing as well. Thanks to this Google app, students could also learn from each other besides receiving instant feedback from their instructor.

Zoom /Teams

At the outbreak of the pandemic, while we were making a university-wide transition to the remote teaching, I had my classes on Teams for all my synchronous contact with the students. It was very practical in many ways except for its lack of Breakout Rooms which has become an indispensable need during remote teaching for educators from all spheres. Zoom Breakout Rooms allowed us, the educators, to engage the group of students in various tasks, provided space for small group discussions and pair work. Another very useful Zoom feature is the remote-control button. This feature made it possible to provide feedback on the written tasks carried out during the class time. Instead of spending time guiding the student through the text I was able to underline and make corrections on the screen shared by the student.

Padlet & Mentimeter

Padlet and Mentimeter are two other online applications which are worth mentioning and I made use of occasionally. These applications work in a similar way to Google Docs, providing a space where students and instructors can share interactively. I preferred to use them at times because they offer some other very useful functions. For one thing, Mentimeter allows to create interactive slides on which preparing quiz games is also possible. Padlet, on the other hand, offers various options such as an interactive wall where both students and instructors can insert comments and feedback, reply to and comment on others' posts, place multimedia. The interactive online wall can also be modified and organized in a way that the students can enjoy. In addition, saving the wall and using it later with the students in other applications are possible.

All in all, the unexpected outbreak of the pandemic posed challenges both to the educators and the students worldwide while forcing us to become increasingly creative and inventive. The online period of teaching & learning has also taught us to be adaptable to change. We have become capable of acquiring new skills in a short time span. Many applications and methods came into our professional life through remote teaching and they seem to keep their presence in our teaching experiences for a long while more adding new dimensions to teaching and the teachers’ role in the long run.

Instructor , Gül Ülker Gül