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    What does a public institution has to do in the list of most popular websites?

    Güven Sak, PhD26 December 2009 - Okunma Sayısı: 1175


    As per 2008, 26.5 million people in Turkey use the Internet. The number was 2.5 million people in 2000. Number of internet users rose by 40 percent in 2008 compared to the year before. If we assume that the rate will prevail, number of internet users must have reached 35 million in 2009. Have you wondered what do all these people do online? I took a look at it for Turkey and for other countries. Do you know that a public institution ranks the thirty third in the most popular websites ranking? Do you also know that in other countries you do not see public institutions in the most popular websites list? Website of the Ministry of National Education of Turkey (MoNE) is the 33rd most visited website among Turkey. When rankings for other countries are examined, the different can be grasped. So, let us begin with congratulating the Ministry. And those wondering what I was thinking about while I was checking the website of the MoNE; please proceed reading.

    So, what makes the website of the MoNE so popular? First, 54 percent of the visitors directly visit the e-school pages. E-school is the Parent Information System for Elementary Education. With this system, parents not only can monitor the student's life within the education system but also compare the performance of student with others. The system was activated in January 2007. Second, teachers can use the website to prepare the courses they will give. It appears that students can also use the system similarly, which is a good thing. Third, 9 percent of the visitors of MoNE website follow up the open high school programs. Fourth, the website can also be used as a memo board, just as once we said for the website of the Prime Ministry. Teacher appointments and placement exam results can also be learned here. Fifth, the site provides information on the recent regulations or memorandums; which can also be classified under the memo board function. This function becomes more dominant as provincial directorates of education are considered. Nonetheless, thanks to the Internet, the Ministry can directly communicate directives to its employees or confer in meetings upon employees' demand. This is quite important concerning the contemporary use of the Internet.

    Website of the MoNE can be considered as a best practice in Turkey. Do not conclude directly "That is a large Ministry; and the population is young. This is just normal!" For example, Turkish Employment Organization (İŞKUR) website is not among the popular websites. Number of unemployed people has increased by one million over the last year. However, people do not visit İŞKUR's site to find jobs. We should admit that the issue also has something to do with the content. Website of MoNE is visited as it is useful. This is the first point.

    The popularity of MoNE's website prove that a practice back from my childhood has come to disappear. Now, students do not have the chance to change the grades in the report with bleach before taking the report to home. Parents can check the grades right away as the report is given by the school. Here, two conclusions can be reached: First, George Orwell's 1984 seems to become true with a couple of decades of delay, if not in 1984. Those born in 1984 opened their eyes to a different world. I guess this is what being a big author is like. Please think what I am saying: Big brother can monitor continuously what you do at school. It seems that escaping from parents' control and creating a momentary space of freedom seem to get harder. But human beings have the potential to solve this problem. Was not that so in the novel 1984? Restrictions intensify the search for solutions; not abolishes it. For instance, how many attempts to hack the MoNE website to change the content are recorded? Do not reject; this might happen. We used to use the laundry bleach; I am sure the Internet generation also has a method. But can you imagine how much the world has changed? Those below forty belong to another world. Thus the second point of today is things are harder for today's kids. But by 2008 data; there are almost 11 million internet users below 15; and they know what to do.

    And the third point of today: What does it mean that in countries with higher population and more widespread Internet use ratio then Turkey, website of Ministry of Education is not visited as much as in Turkey? This is the last point that grabbed my attention. After all, kids in the USA for instance also go to school. Why do not they have an e-school system? I also want to know the answer. What can it be? Maybe it is that the education system in the US is based on states and thus such practices are administered by state administrations. But in that case, why does not France, for instance, has a similar system? Why the Ministry of Education of France does not have as much visitors on their website? Is it that the MoNE does this duty better than them? Or is it that these duties are carried out locally, not centrally in the rest of the world? This seems reasonable: It is more logical that the residents of the neighborhood must monitor how things go at the school in the neighborhood. Let us focus on this sometime.

    Nonetheless, despite its high level of development, MoNE website belongs to the Web 1.0 period. It broadcasts information unilaterally. In that sense, it is imperious. So this makes both central and imperious. The site does not seem to have developed to the Web 2.0 period. For instance, it does not let us know what teachers think about new regulations or appointments. It does not reflect the reactions o students to new decisions or the right to say of parents, except for discussions between parents. However, in the current age, such issues are discussed collectively. The difference between Web 2.0 and Web 1.0 is that the former enables you to monitor what the user thinks. On this sense, the recently popping blogs and Twitter appears as tools letting you to monitor what the user thinks. Is this a significant deficiency? Maybe not. This cannot overshadow the fact that the MoNE use the Internet in line with its goals.

    Did you know that countries like Turkey and Iran are in the top ten in the world of blogs? First I will take a look at it and then tell you about it.

    I wish you all a happy weekend.


    This commentary was published in Referans daily on 26.12.2009