Turkey: Distance learning for welding engineers
GSI – International Welding Association • Vocational education and training in the local language
The Gesellschaft für Schweißtechnik International (GSI – International Welding Association) was established in 1999. It is a syndicate of very efficient research and education institutions in the field of welding technology with more than 80 years of experience in joining technology and test engineering. The purpose of the GSI is to provide vocational education and training as well as advice in the field of welding technology and to transfer the corresponding technology both on a national and international level. The GSI is active in over 50 countries. Of its more than 450 members of staff, more than 300 are engineers and technicians.
The GSI supports its customers through vocational training and continuing education programmes during the career entry phase and in the further development of their career. Each year, the GSI carries out more than 20,000 training courses and examinations in the field of welding. In addition, it conducts 1,500 training programmes for welding supervisors and 6,000 continuing education programmes for executives. Moreover, the GSI issues 2,500 operating licences and certificates as well as 600 materials and damage assessments per year. It also pursues approximately 20 research and development projects.
All training events are carried out under due observation of the German national technical regulations and the standards and guidelines as issued by the DVS (Deutscher Verband für Schweißen und verwandte Verfahren – German Welding and Associated Processes Association), by the EWF (European Federation for Welding, Joining and Cutting) and by the IIW (Interational Institute for Welding).
In 1999, the GSI launched its activities for developing a distance learning course for future specialised welding engineers. This continuing education programme is a post-graduate training for engineers to qualify as welding experts. Since that time, more than one million Euro have been invested to translate some 440 hours of face-to-face lessons into a "computer-based training" (CBT) in the form of a blended learning concept with 50 per cent distance learning and 50 per cent of face-to-face lessons. The project involved the combined efforts of about 30 lecturers and computer specialists.
In July 2001, the first participants started their CBT course in Germany. It had been determined already during the planning phase that pictures, animations, texts and films were to be placed on various digital levels so that a subsequent transfer into other languages would prove unproblematic. Already in 2002 and 2003, licences were granted to education institutions in the Netherlands and in Italy. After that, the translation into English followed.
In early 2004, the new product "International Welding Engineer (IWE)" was launched as a CBT course on the international market. With this concept, the period during which participants are required to attend face-to-face lessons in Germany could be shortened from three and a half to less than two months. This removed a significant obstacle regarding obtaining a visa especially for participants from non-European Union countries. Foreign participants save up for covering the costs of spending approximately six weeks in Germany and are able to study the course content at home – also in their free time off work. The GSI controls the learning success via an internet forum, e-mail and telephone contact as well as through homework assessments. In 2007, the GSI received the "German Training Export Award" issued by the German Federal Ministry of Education and iMOVE in recognition of this English language product.
Already since 1991, the GSI has been active also in Turkey, at first in the context of a co-operation project with the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara. In 2008, because of the excellent collaboration, the GSI decided to establish the GSI SLV TR in Ankara together with the subsidiary's current managing director Özgur Akcam. In the following year, the distance learning documentation for the welding engineer course was translated from German and English into the Turkish language in order to introduce these modern teaching and learning methods also in Turkey. At present, already the ninth distance learning course is being carried out.
Since its launch in May 2010, more than 300 Turkish welding engineers have been trained in this manner. Participants include also employees working for Turkish enterprises in countries such as Morocco, Uzbekistan, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Russia. About 800 Turkish participants have completed continuing education courses in other welding training programmes. This makes the GSI SLV TR the worldwide most successful provider of distance learning courses in the field of welding technology – right after the GSI in Germany. Whereas in Germany about 20 per cent of all participants choose the distance learning method, their number in Turkey is about 30 per cent.
This sucess story was first published in the iMOVE publication Developing Skills for Employability with German Partners • 8 Success Stories from Turkey. The brochure was published in 2014.