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Pak Virtual Education Institution Wins Top Award

Pakistan's Virtual University (VU) has won the Outstanding New Site Award 2012 for an Open CourseWare website which was created last year, according to media reports.

The Awards for OpenCourseWare Excellence provide annual recognition to
outstanding courseware and OpenCourseWare sites created in the OCW Consortium community.
They also recognize individual leadership in moving the ideals of
OpenCourseWare and Open Educational Resources forward. The awards are
announced each year at the global OpenCourseWare Consortium's annual
conference.

In 2001, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology launched the
world's first open courseware program, which inspired many other
universities, including Pakistan's Virtual University, to join the Open
CourseWare (OCW) movement.


Founded in 2002, Virtual University of Pakistan has so far contributed 138 courses
on a wide range of subjects since joining the OpenCouseWare consortium.
These courses include free and open digital publications of high
quality educational materials for colleges and universities.





Enabling virtual education is the high-speed broadband expansion led by PTCL which has propelled Pakistan to
become the fourth fastest growing broadband market in the world and the
second fastest in Asia, according to a recent industry report.
Serbia leads all countries surveyed with a 68% annual growth rate from
Q1 2010 to Q1 2011. Thailand (67%), Belarus (50%), Pakistan (46%), and
Jordan (44%) follow Serbia. India is in 14th place worldwide with a 35%
annual growth rate.

 The quickest and the most cost-effective way to broaden access to
education at all levels is through online schools, colleges and
universities. Sitting at home in Pakistan, self-motivated learners can
watch classroom lectures at world's top universities including UC Berkeley, MIT and Stanford. More Pakistanis can pursue advanced degrees by enrolling and attending the country's Virtual University
that offers instructions to thousands of enrolled students via its
website, video streaming and Youtube and television channels.

The concept of virtual instruction is finding its way to K-12 education as well. Increasing number of Pakistanis are drawn to the Khan Academy channel on YouTube making Pakistanis among its top users. Virtual Education for All is a local Pakistani initiative extending the concept to primary level. 



All of these technological developments and open courseware initiatives
are good news for making education available and accessible to satisfy
the growing needs in Pakistan and other emerging countries around the
world seeking to develop knowledge-based economies of the 21st century.
Virtual University deserves credit for leading this education revolution
in Pakistan.

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Views: 159

Tags: Education, OCW, Pakistan, Virtual

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 5, 2012 at 4:00pm

Here's a David Brooks' NY Times column on online education titled "campus tsunami":

Online education is not new. The University of Phoenix started its online degree program in 1989. Four million college students took at least one online class during the fall of 2007.

But, over the past few months, something has changed. The elite, pace-setting universities have embraced the Internet. Not long ago, online courses were interesting experiments. Now online activity is at the core of how these schools envision their futures.

This week, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology committed $60 million to offer free online courses from both universities. Two Stanford professors, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, have formed a company, Coursera, which offers interactive courses in the humanities, social sciences, mathematics and engineering. Their partners include Stanford, Michigan, Penn and Princeton. Many other elite universities, including Yale and Carnegie Mellon, are moving aggressively online. President John Hennessy of Stanford summed up the emerging view in an article by Ken Auletta in The New Yorker, “There’s a tsunami coming.”

What happened to the newspaper and magazine business is about to happen to higher education: a rescrambling around the Web.

Many of us view the coming change with trepidation. Will online learning diminish the face-to-face community that is the heart of the college experience? Will it elevate functional courses in business and marginalize subjects that are harder to digest in an online format, like philosophy? Will fast online browsing replace deep reading?
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The doubts are justified, but there are more reasons to feel optimistic. In the first place, online learning will give millions of students access to the world’s best teachers. Already, hundreds of thousands of students have taken accounting classes from Norman Nemrow of Brigham Young University, robotics classes from Sebastian Thrun of Stanford and physics from Walter Lewin of M.I.T.

Online learning could extend the influence of American universities around the world. India alone hopes to build tens of thousands of colleges over the next decade. Curricula from American schools could permeate those institutions.

Research into online learning suggests that it is roughly as effective as classroom learning. It’s easier to tailor a learning experience to an individual student’s pace and preferences. Online learning seems especially useful in language and remedial education.
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In a blended online world, a local professor could select not only the reading material, but do so from an array of different lecturers, who would provide different perspectives from around the world. The local professor would do more tutoring and conversing and less lecturing. Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School notes it will be easier to break academic silos, combining calculus and chemistry lectures or literature and history presentations in a single course.

The early Web radically democratized culture, but now in the media and elsewhere you’re seeing a flight to quality. The best American colleges should be able to establish a magnetic authoritative presence online.

My guess is it will be easier to be a terrible university on the wide-open Web, but it will also be possible for the most committed schools and students to be better than ever.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/04/opinion/brooks-the-campus-tsunami...

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 15, 2012 at 8:12am

Here's an ET report on Pakistan launch of new Nokia phones with Internet access: In a bid to capture the lower end of the market, Nokia launched two new mobile phones — the Nokia 110 (Rs 3,800) and Nokia 112 (Rs 4,000) — in Karachi on Tuesday.

Designed to appeal to “young, urban consumers”, the devices can be used to access Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks directly, or through the Nokia Browser. Additionally, Nokia 112 features a preloaded eBuddy instant messaging service.

“Today’s mobile phone users want a quick internet experience that allows them to discover great content and share it with their friends – but without being held back by high data costs,” said Nokia’s Executive Vice President Mary T McDowell.

“The new Nokia 110 and Nokia 112 devices combine browsing, social media, apps, world-class entertainment and long battery life,” she added.

Commenting on the consumer habits in Pakistan, Vice President Near East Nokia Imran Mahmood said “our vision is to give the youth of Pakistan their first internet experience on a Nokia mobile device. And we are very pleased to have made great progress in this direction with our rich, affordable and power packed portfolio”

http://tribune.com.pk/story/379103/nokia-launches-two-new-phones-in...

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 15, 2012 at 8:17am

Telenor to help empower new digital generation in Pakistan, reports Daily Times: LAHORE: Telenor Pakistan has launched a nationwide project that would help empower a new digital generation in Pakistan.

Telenor Talkshawk I-Champ is a knowledge-based initiative that aims to provide learning and training to young people to enable them to become future proponents in the digital age. Telenor will partner with Government of the Punjab and hold Internet workshops for class 8-10 students in 150 schools in the semi-urban and rural areas of Punjab. To mark the initiative, a launch event was held at Children’s Library Complex, which was attended by a large number of school children, their parents and teachers.

Deputy Speaker Punjab Assembly, Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan said government of the Punjab was committed to providing its citizens with quality education. The students were briefed on how the Internet works and how information can be searched for on internet-enabled mobile phones.

Acting Chief Marketing Officer Telenor Pakistan, Usman Javed said, “We are delighted to be partnering with the Government of Punjab to start promoting digital awareness among the youth of the province”. The winner of the Telenor Talkshawk I-Champ final competition will get to visit Opera Labs in Norway to learn more about how the Internet is being used by people around the world to share knowledge.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\05\13\story_13-5-2012_pg5_11

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 16, 2012 at 10:22pm

Here's Tom Friedman in NY Times on online education revolution: Andrew Ng is an associate professor of computer science at Stanford, and he has a rather charming way of explaining how the new interactive online education company that he cofounded, Coursera, hopes to revolutionize higher education by allowing students from all over the world to not only hear his lectures, but to do homework assignments, be graded, receive a certificate for completing the course and use that to get a better job or gain admission to a better school.

“I normally teach 400 students,” Ng explained, but last semester he taught 100,000 in an online course on machine learning. “To reach that many students before,” he said, “I would have had to teach my normal Stanford class for 250 years.”

Welcome to the college education revolution. Big breakthroughs happen when what is suddenly possible meets what is desperately necessary. The costs of getting a college degree have been rising faster than those of health care, so the need to provide low-cost, quality higher education is more acute than ever. At the same time, in a knowledge economy, getting a higher-education degree is more vital than ever. And thanks to the spread of high-speed wireless technology, high-speed Internet, smartphones, Facebook, the cloud and tablet computers, the world has gone from connected to hyperconnected in just seven years. Finally, a generation that has grown up on these technologies is increasingly comfortable learning and interacting with professors through online platforms.
------------
Private companies, like Phoenix, have been offering online degrees for a fee for years. And schools like M.I.T. and Stanford have been offering lectures for free online. Coursera is the next step: building an interactive platform that will allow the best schools in the world to not only offer a wide range of free course lectures online, but also a system of testing, grading, student-to-student help and awarding certificates of completion of a course for under $100. (Sounds like a good deal. Tuition at the real-life Stanford is over $40,000 a year.) Coursera is starting with 40 courses online — from computing to the humanities — offered by professors from Stanford, Princeton, Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania.
-----------
M.I.T., Harvard and private companies, like Udacity, are creating similar platforms. In five years this will be a huge industry.

While the lectures are in English, students have been forming study groups in their own countries to help one another. The biggest enrollments are from the United States, Britain, Russia, India and Brazil. “One Iranian student e-mailed to say he found a way to download the class videos and was burning them onto CDs and circulating them,” Ng said last Thursday. “We just broke a million enrollments.”

To make learning easier, Coursera chops up its lectures into short segments and offers online quizzes, which can be auto-graded, to cover each new idea. It operates on the honor system but is building tools to reduce cheating.

In each course, students post questions in an online forum for all to see and then vote questions and answers up and down. “So the most helpful questions bubble to the top and the bad ones get voted down,” Ng said. “With 100,000 students, you can log every single question. It is a huge data mine.” Also, if a student has a question about that day’s lecture and it’s morning in Cairo but 3 a.m. at Stanford, no problem..

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/16/opinion/friedman-come-the-revolut...

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 20, 2012 at 8:43am

Here's an ET report on PM Gilani's plan to promote online education in Pakistan's under-served areas: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has announced that the federal government will allocate Rs17 billion for the development of Information Technology (IT) infrastructure and broadband connectivity in un-served areas in the next budget.

Addressing the third convocation of Virtual University at the Expo Centre here on Saturday, the prime minister said that education in general and science and technology education in particular were “a matter of life and death” for the nation.

He said his government had already spent Rs22 billion on IT. He also announced an IT award of Rs20 million for talented students from backward areas.

Gilani said that broadband centres would be established in each union council and these would provide 30,000 jobs this year. He also announced the establishment of 30 more Virtual University campuses throughout the country including in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

The prime minister directed the IT minister to expedite the awarding of contracts for 3G mobile technology in Pakistan.

He said that this technology would create jobs and promote development. He said that he had directed the finance minister to create 100,000 jobs in the budget for 2012-13.

“An educated Pakistan, which is the vision of Virtual University, is in line with my government’s determination to provide an affordable and quality education to all at the same time. I want the university to undertake expansion projects and increase its nationwide presence. I have already approved, in principle, the setting up of a custom-built Virtual University campus in every district of the country. I am very glad to hear that the first four campuses under this initiative have already started functioning,” he said.

Gilani said though education was a provincial subject after the passage of the 18th Amendment, the federal government was “committed to increasing the share of GDP for education in line with the Millennium Development Goals”.

Pakistan currently has one of the lowest rates in the world of spending on education as a proportion of GDP.

The prime minister praised Virtual University for its “quality and innovative techniques of delivery”. He noted that the university’s open course ware website had been recognised as the best in the world by the Open Courseware Consortium that included such world leaders as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford and Yale.

Gilani said that the government was planning to raise the rate of enrolment in higher education significantly in coming years. “The only way this quantitative and qualitative growth can take place is through an effective use of technology for the dissemination of education for students residing in all areas of the country. I am glad that Virtual University is playing its due role in this respect,” he added

http://tribune.com.pk/story/381449/it-infrastructure-pm-announces-r...

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 21, 2012 at 10:00am

Here's a Nation report on PTCL's one millionth broadband subscription in Pakistan: Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani has inaugurated Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) celebration of achieving Pakistan’s first one million Broadband customers as part of the national commemoration of World Telecommunication & Information Society Day 2012 held here at Pak-China Friendship Center, says a press release.

“Telecommunications and IT are bringing encouraging economic dividends and inspiring lifestyle choices for the people of Pakistan,” said Prime Minister Gilani, who was the chief guest of the mega event and exhibition organised jointly by PTCL and Ministry of IT & Telecom to mark the WTIS Day 2012. This year’s theme for WTIS Day is ‘Women, Girls & ICT’.

“The role of ICTs matter immensely for gender equality and empowerment of women,” said Prime Minister Gilani. “ICTs are a force multiplier for girls’ education, enabling them to build their future on a level-playing field with their male counterparts.” The event was also addressed by Federal Minister of IT & Telecom, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf; Federal Secretary IT & Telecom, Farooq Ahmed Awan; and PTCL President & CEO, Walid Irshaid. The event was attended by senior government and PTCL officials, a large number of students, members of the civil society and media.

“Achieving one million Broadband customers mark is yet another historic milestone for PTCL,” said Irshaid in his remarks. “PTCL passionately believes in creating innovative yet affordable ICT and telecom solutions that meet the needs of all segments of Pakistan’s society, especially women. We are determined to utilise the full potential of ICTs by providing women with the telecommunication tools, products and services they need to empower them to be free and make their own decisions.”

Earlier, Prime Minister Gilani visited PTCL’s impressive pavilion exhibition set up in the main hall of the Pak-China Friendship Centre. The Prime Minister experienced first-hand telecom giant’s state-of-the-art products and services, and was briefed by PTCL’s team about their various features.

President & CEO PTCL, Walid Irshaid, also presented on the occasion special 1 million Broadband commemorative shields to Prime Minister Gilani and Minister IT & Telecom, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf.

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-onli...

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 28, 2012 at 7:02pm

Here's a SJ Mercury News story on use of videoconferencing for education in developing countries:

Videoconferences have largely been confined to offices. Not anymore. New technologies developed by Polycom and other videoconference vendors let employees use smartphones and tablet devices join in no matter where they are.

It's a "game changer" for Chris Plutte and his line of work -- using videoconferencing to connect students from countries around the world with students in American schools to help them better understand each other and the countries they call home.

"This opens up a whole new opportunity for us. It's about access for us," said Plutte, executive director of New York-based Global Nomads Group, a nonprofit he co-founded in 1998 that is currently linking several schools in the United States with those in Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo for town-hall type meetings.

"It's pretty amazing. In the past, students and schools that participated in our programs had to have a (wired) Internet connection. They needed to have a computer. They needed to have electricity," he said. "This is a game changer for us in that (videoconferencing) can now reach more rural schools in developing countries like Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo."
------------
"It's called the consumerization of IT," said Costello, the IDC analyst. "These devices are coming into the workplace."

Total smartphone shipments worldwide reached 472 million in 2011, up 53 percent from 2010, said a Gartner report. Tablets are also growing, with Gartner projecting that by the end of 2015, more than 900 million will have been sold.

"This is about the ability to connect to different types of people on different types of devices on any network. It's device-agnostic. You can have a smartphone connected to a tablet to a laptop to a high-end HD videoconferencing in an office," said Randel Maestre, vice president of worldwide industry and field marketing for Polycom, which is in the midst of moving its Pleasanton headquarters to San Jose by the end of May.

"Our vision is to make video collaboration and videoconferencing ubiquitous," he said.

Polycom isn't the only company with that vision.

Last year, San Jose-based Cisco rolled out Jabber, a free downloadable application for smartphones and tablets that allows multiparty videoconferencing as well as access to voice, instant messaging and voice mail for existing Cisco customers.

"Work is not a place you go to -- it's where you are at. You can work if you happen to be at the airport," said Michael Smith, Cisco's senior director for collaborative application marketing. "These mobile devices like tablets now give us the power to do videoconferencing even when we're not in the videoconference room."

http://business-news.thestreet.com/mercury-news/story/videoconferen...

http://gng.org/

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 29, 2012 at 11:32am

Here's an excerpt from ICT4E report on South Asia:

A combination of radio, television, and the Internet is used in distance learning institutes in Pakistan. Since 2004, when the government deregulated telecommunication in Pakistan, the sector attracted 54% of the total Foreign Direct Investment (PTA 2006). It is estimated that 10,184 hours of programming are broadcast annually on 3.6 million TV sets; the estimates for radio programming are four times this figure (Iqbal 2004). The Institute of Educational Technology (IET) established in Allama Iqbal Open University is a centre of media production. The educational audio and video content developed in IET is broadcasted on national television and radio channels. Virtual University of Pakistan operates four free-to-air satellite channels on which some of their lectures are broadcasted.
5.2. Major Initiatives
Distance Education in Pakistan is dominated by Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), Asia’s first Open University, which was established in 1974 with a mandate of providing educational opportunities to the masses and to those who could not leave their homes or their regular jobs. In 2000, the Government of Pakistan developed a new initiative—the Virtual University of Pakistan (VUP). VUP was established specifically to create more capacity in the system by leveraging modern information and communications technologies. Even though VUP used ICT to deliver education through a distance learning mode, it was not conceptualized as an “open” university since AIOU already served that market (PANdora Distance Education Guidebook). Together AIOU and VUP serve 750,000 students (with an annual growth rate of 14%), which is three times the student population of all other universities in Pakistan combined (Ansari and Saleem, 2010). Due to the efforts made by the government as well as private and non-government donors, enrollment in distance learning institutes has increased from 199,660 to 305,962 from 2005-06 to 2007-08 (Economic Survey 2008-09).

http://www.infodev.org/en/Publication.892.html

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 3, 2012 at 10:09pm

Here's an ET report on telecom growth forecast in Pakistan:

The mobile phone subscriber base is expected to cross 160 million mark and broadband subscribers to cross 19.5 million by 2020, according to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s ‘Telecom Vision 2020‘ report.

The number of fixed line subscribers is expected to remain in the range of five million, the report added.

The broadband connections have increased from 1.49 million in June last year to 1.92 million and this increase is mainly attributed to continuous aggressive launching of products like EvDO, WiMax, FTTP in the broadband arena by telecom companies at affordable price.

It said broadband will be the main medium of personalised communication from which users will be able to effectively and affordably access any service from any device or network. In the next ten years, 4G technology will usher the usage of new applications such as IPTV and Web-TV.

In the future, PTA will be concentrating on re-farming of spectrum to cater the increased demand of broadband and wireless technologies, envisioning telecom to become the communication highway for sharing of knowledge as well as reaching out to a large segment of population in education and health services delivery.

The report further said that the telecom roadmap for 2020 is likely to witness 100 per cent infrastructure development wherein a wide range of services will be available on converged infrastructure platform.

Talking to APP, an official said on Wednesday that Rs 1.13 billion have been earmarked for SUPARCO, SCO and Ministry of IT to execute 16 approved projects worth Rs 11.1 billion.

The important projects that will be executed this year include construction of Cross-Border Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) for alternate international connectivity and laying of OFC to connect remote areas of Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK.

He added that SUPARCO would develop various laboratories for National Satellite Development Programme in Lahore. The other projects are development of Compact Antenna Test Range (CATR), Satellite bus development facility (Phase-I), development of a Satellite Assembly Integration and Test (SAINT) and Altitude & Orbital Control System (AOCS) Center.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/413152/cell-phone-users-to-cross-160-mi...

http://www.pta.gov.pk/media/final_vision_2020_booklet.pdf

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 3, 2012 at 10:14pm

Here's Express Tribune on rapid growth of broadband Internet access in Pakistan:

The current global economic recession has had a spiral effect worldwide and only a few segments have been able to resist its impact. However, the amazing growth of broadband in the last decade is an outstanding national success story. High-speed internet streaming is revolutionising the way people learn, communicate, work and do business. Broadband internet is now the backbone of corporate services and even small businesses.

Owing to their own limitations, some telecommunications operators are making misleading claims about the state of broadband penetration in Pakistan by incorrectly linking it with the country’s economic situation. Contrary to such ill-informed claims made in haste, the country has witnessed a 70 times increase in broadband proliferation in the last six years. The numbers speak for themselves.

According to the Pakistan Telecommu-nication Authority (PTA) data, the number of broadband internet subscribers in Pakistan increased from less than 27,000 in 2005-2006 to more than 1.9 million in 2012. One website, Internetworldstats.com, puts Pakistan’s total internet users at more than 29 million with a population penetration of 15.5 per cent. The total number of fixed phones and mobile phone subscribers stand at 3.1 million and 118.3 million, respectively. The PTA data further reveals that broadband internet put up an impressive growth rate of 28 per cent from June 2011 to March 2012, surpassing a mobile growth rate which stood at nine per cent for the same period. Given these facts, conveniently blaming the economy to cover operators’ own institutional limitations and lack of infrastructural capacity are tantamount to a disservice to the nation.

Broadband services were first introduced in Pakistan in 2001, by installing equipment on existing copper lines used for provision of telephony services. Initially, DSL broadband services were only provided to a small consumer base of high-end users in the big cities. But progress was slow and penetration was negligible. In response, the Government of Pakistan introduced the Broadband Policy of 2004, revising backhaul bandwidth charges downwards to propel broader penetration.

Broadband growth has been achieved during recession years, where the average GDP growth rate has remained less than four per cent per year. Today, broadband internet is a household product and one connection serves an entire family.

Pakistan is ranked among the top few countries to have registered high growth in broadband internet penetration in recent years. According to global broadband tracker Point Topic’s 2011 report, Pakistan stood in fourth place in Asia with 46.2 per cent growth in subscriber base whereas Sri Lanka and India were placed at number 11 and number 14, respectively. The tremendous potential of broadband internet in Pakistan can be gauged by analysing the last four years’ progress through the PTA’s data. Broadband internet penetration was less than one percent per household in 2008. In 2012, it has reached seven per cent. This mammoth growth has fuelled a broadband revolution, resulting in an increase in customer base and also helping wireless broadband technologies to expand setting the economic wheel in motion.

Despite hollow claims, the truth is that the growth trajectory of broadband is not the same for all operators. A sluggish economy and power crisis is not the reason for this stark dichotomy. Rather, it depends on an operator’s network, infrastructure capabilities, investment size, business model and growth strategy. Technology takes time to grow but once the wheel is set in motion, the effect is viral.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/416535/broadband-growth-dont-blame-the-...

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