Saturday, March 16, 2013

Learntive: Silicon Valley NEDians Digitize Pak School Lessons

DVDs and YouTube videos are at the heart of Learntive, a Silicon Valley NEDians' initiative to promote better learning among school students in Pakistan.


Founded in 2012, Learntive has begun with the launch of a YouTube channel and video CDs containing complete lectures for  Sindh mathematics text books for grades 9 and 10. Learntive has already given 2300 CD sets to district education officers for distribution to teachers at government-run schools in Sindh province. 

In addition to working with Sindh government, Learntive is also sharing digitized lessons with various other organizations including The Citizens Foundation (TCF) which runs nearly 1000 schools across Pakistan, Development in Literacy (DIL), and Indus Resource Center (IRC). 

L to R: Dr. Nasir Ansar (Director General Colleges, Sindh), Pir Mazahar ul Haq (Senior Minister, Education & Literacy Department, Sindh), Sajjad Abbasi (Special Secretary, Education & Literacy Department, Sindh),
Anees Ahmed Kaim Khani ( Learntive Team Member)
 The initial funding for the initiative has come mainly from Pakistani-American alumni of NED University who are working in Silicon Valley, California. Silicon Valley NEDians have also volunteered their time and the production facilities to narrate and produce the videos. Of particular note are  the contributions of time and money made by my friends Suhail Ahmad, Ali Hasan Cemendtaur, Abbas Zaidi and Raghib Husain, all graduates of NED University in Karachi, Pakistan.  Ali Hasan Cemendtaur is also working with Bilal Musharraf of Khan Academy to ensure Urdu translations of its online tutorial videos.  Ali's voice can be heard in several instructional videos posted online. 



Digitizing lessons is the first step toward helping teachers provide better instruction in classrooms. Such content can also be distributed through high-speed broadband expansion.  A recent industry report indicates that Pakistan has become the fourth fastest growing broadband market in the world and the second fastest in Asia.


Source: OECD Global Education Digest 2009

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.

Clearly, the concept of virtual instruction is finding its way to K-12 education. Increasing number of Pakistanis are drawn to the Khan Academy channel on YouTube making Pakistanis among its top users. Learntive and Virtual Education for All are a local Pakistani initiatives extending the concept to primary and secondary level.

All of these technological developments and various 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.

Here's a Learntive video:




Here's a video of NED Alumni Convention in Silicon Valley:


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistani-Americans in Top Venture Deals in Silicon Valley

12-Year-Old Pakistani Girl at Davos, Switzerland

Pakistan Rolls Out 50Mbps Broadband Service

More Pakistan Students Studying Abroad

Inquiry Based Learning in Pakistan

Mobile Internet in South Asia

Allama Iqbal Open University

Online Courses at Top International Universities

Pakistan Virtual University

Pasi Sahlberg on why Finland leads the world in education

Intellectual Wealth of Nations

Pakistan Primary Education Crisis

Indian Students' Poor Performance on PISA and TIMSS

Pakistan's Demographic Dividend

India Shining, Bharat Drowning

PISA's Scores 2011

Teaching Facts versus Reasoning

Poor Quality of Education in South Asia

Infections Cause Low IQs in South Asia, Africa?

CNN's Fixing Education in America-Fareed Zakaria

15 comments:

Sukhdev said...

Isn't it easier just to pop a cd or a DVD and follow the lecture rather than waiting for the buffering every 5 minutes on line. When I was at Xavier's in Mumbai many lectures from prestigious schools were available on DVD from the library and you were allowed to burn them too!

The quality was better, it was portable and worked great in a study group environment.

I don't think this is like reinventing the wheel!

Riaz Haq said...

Sukhdev: "Isn't it easier just to pop a cd or a DVD and follow the lecture rather than waiting for the buffering every 5 minutes on line."

It depends on the type of connection available. Learntive offers both options- Video CDs and Online.

HopeWins Junior said...

This may be helpful for assisting with homework in the place of a parent. But apart from that this appears to be a non-solution because our underlying problem with basic education is something altogether different.

Here is our REAL problem:
http://alturl.com/k3rwz

Videos, internet, DVDs are clearly not the solution to this solution.

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "Videos, internet, DVDs are clearly not the solution to this solution."

These videos are designed to help both teachers and students.

Dealing with absent teachers or ghost schools requires greater accountability of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats.

There's an initiative by GeoTV featured in Shehzad Roy's Chal Parha program which has installed biometric ID machines to track teacher attendance. Data from these machines is sent to a Geo tracker to name and shame teachers and administrators who show up only to collect salaries.

Here's an excerpt of what Shehzad Roy said about it:

We hope to create awareness for the basic right to quality education but we also go one step further and actually bring some improvements in these schools. For example, we have installed 20 thumb-printing attendance machines in government schools in all 5 provinces to bring transparency to the teacher absenteeism issue. We are collecting this attendance data since installation and are happy to report that teacher attendance has increased considerably in these schools. Similarly in the episode on corporal punishment, we are proposing a law banning physical abuse in schools and we plan to diligently pursue this law in the media.
A lot of people do not know this about me but I am an avid biker. This show was the perfect excuse for me to travel across Pakistan, not in a car or a Jeep, but on a Harley-Davidson bike! It was a liberating and extraordinary experience, even though certain moments were very risky and tough. I love Pakistan and have tried to capture my country’s breathtaking beauty in this show. I hope that people will be able to see Pakistan through my eyes and appreciate it for the good things in it.


http://www.desidramas.com/dramas/geo-tv/chal-parha/chal-parha-with-shehzad-roy-on-geo-tv-episode-5/

NADRA is also working on a similar solution for broader deployment, as reported by The News Tribe:

Mr. Malik said NADRA is also working on biometrics teachers’ attendance initiative. Giving details about the progress on biometric teachers’ attendance he said NADRA has designed a solution which will ensure attendance through Biometrics using GPRS based devices which will be provided to every school. However the President has instructed the Chairman to link the attendance data with the payroll data to ensure that only those attending schools are paid through the national exchequer.

http://www.thenewstribe.com/2012/11/23/chairman-nadra-unveils-pension-disbursement-and-biometric-teachers-attendance-initiatives/

Roland said...

youtube is not available in our country: its anti-pakistani.

Riaz Haq said...

Roland: "youtube is not available in our country: its anti-pakistani."

I have been told there are ways to get around the YouTube ban in Pakistan by using proxies to access videos....that's how many MOOC students in Pakistan are taking courses at Udacity, Coursera, Khan Academy etc. have been able to continue taking classes.

They work by masking IP addresses.

Here's an example:

http://en.softonic.com/s/youtube-proxy-list

Najam said...

Sitting thousand miles away,Riaz knows all the tricks better than home town mourner Roland
Amongst others doing these literacy stuff,I noticed one Bilal Musharraf.Is he the son of Old Commando,now trying to sneak in the country?

Riaz Haq said...

Najam: "I noticed one Bilal Musharraf.Is he the son of Old Commando,now trying to sneak in the country?"

Bilal Musharraf is Gen Musharraf's son.

Bilal is doing a good job of heading the group translating Khan Academy videos into multiple languages. Some NEDians, particularly Ali Hasan, have been volunteering to do Urdu translations for Pakistanis.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of an ET piece by Shahid Javed Burki on Pakistani-Americans:

To appreciate the economic influence the Pakistanis living in America could exert on the country of their origin, we should have some idea about their wealth, sources of income and aggregate incomes. Their total annual income is of the order of $45 to $50 billion a year. The savings rate should be around 25 per cent of the income, which is typical of immigrant groups. This means that about $12 billion a year is being set aside and invested in the creation of assets. Since the diaspora was formed over a period of more than 25 years, I estimate the asset base of this community at about $175 billion. The income from this should be about $8 billion a year. Originally, salaries and wages were the main source of income. Now, with a sizeable asset base, one-sixth of the incomes are drawn from returns on investments. With these numbers as the background, we can begin to understand the source of remittances and other capital flows that originate from this particular diaspora.

In the last two decades, there was a 16-fold increase in the amount of remittances sent by Pakistanis living and working in the United States. These increased from $150 million in 1991-92 to 2.4 billion in 2011-12. This represents an increase of 15 per cent a year. The rate of growth in remittances from this particular source was almost four times the rate of increase in the national product. Another way of looking at this flow of capital is in terms of its contribution to the increase in GDP. Assuming that currently the incremental capital output ratio for Pakistan is four — meaning that it takes four per cent of GDP to be invested to generate a one per cent increase in the national product — about a 0.3 percentage point increase in national income could be attributed to the remittances from the United States. Could this amount increase even further and could it be used more effectively? I will take up these questions in the article next week.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/522240/the-economic-impact-of-the-pakistani-american-diaspora/

Anonymous said...

Is NED something like IIT of PAkistan?

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from TechCrunch on Raspberry Pi computer in developing nations:

Asked about the global sales distribution of the Pi, the Foundation provided TechCrunch with some “very rough”, internal estimates of Pi sales to developing/emerging nations — and the figures (listed below) suggest that the first million+ Pi sales have overwhelmingly been powered by wealthier nations.

The most Pi-populous country on the developing/emerging nations list (India) can lay claim to roughly 0.5%-0.6% of total global Pi sales to-date, according to this data. While, collectively, these listed nations make up between only 1.4% and 1.7% of total global Pi shipments. So more than 98% of the Pi pie has been sold to the world’s wealthiest countries thus far.
India 6000
Indonesia 1200
Lao P.Dem.R. 600
Malaysia 3400
Philippines 500
Pakistan 100
Sri Lanka 50
Thailand 2000
Vietnam 500
Egypt 150
South Africa 2000
Tunisia 200
Zimbabwe 50
Bolivia 100
Chile 400
Colombia 20
Peru 50

There are also, of course, scores of (apparently) Pi-less developing nations that do not make this list at all. One of which – the Kingdom of Bhutan — does actually have a princely one Pi sale to its name at present, according to the Foundation. “It’s a server for Khan Academy Lite in a school, whose 64GB SD card costs more than twice what the Pi cost,” the Foundation’s Liz Upton tells TechCrunch. “We’re working on getting more out there!”

It’s likely that some of the Pis shipped to developed countries have found their way to less wealthy nations – via charities and other ‘suitcase schemes’ such as the Cameroon school project mentioned above which took out 30 Pis. Or via individual buyers seeking to avoid high import tariffs that can push up the price of bulk commercial imports (such as in Brazil).

But even factoring in some extra spread, there’s no doubt the Pi is predominantly disrupting the living rooms and schools of the developed world. Which, it should be noted, was the original ambition of the Pi founders — specifically they wanted to get more U.K. kids coding, following a national slump in interest in computer science education....


http://techcrunch.com/2013/04/12/raspberry-pi-global-sales-spread/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Mashable.com post on Pak Internet-based business potential:

Early Days

Building Internet businesses has traditionally not come easily to Pakistan. Our first e-commerce venture began in 2001 with the establishment of Abid Beli's Beliscity.pk. Although initially started as an information website for mobiles and computers, it soon turned into an e-commerce store as a result of its growing popularity.

You might then expect this venture to have turned out a success story, with Beliscity ending up being the equivalent to Amazon in Pakistan. Unfortunately this was not the case. Owing to many complications and troubles, not only was Beliscity forced to changed its name to Gulf Dealz, but it also fell into obscurity competing with countless other players in the online retail arena.

SEE ALSO: Meet Plan9, Pakistan’s First Technology Startup Incubator

Arguably Pakistan’s greatest Internet success story is Rozee.pk. Founded in 2007 by Monis Rahman as an add-on to his main business, Rozee has grown to become Pakistan’s premier portal for jobs. This journey was also not an easy one at all. When Monis was trying to raise funds through foreign investors in the second half of 2007, Pakistan was in the news almost daily with images of the bombing due to Benazir Bhutto’s arrival and her subsequent assassination.
3 Hot E-Commerce Startups to Watch in Pakistan

Those, however, were just the early days and the environment seems much more conducive to starting e-commerce ventures now. Last year will go on record as a landmark year for Internet businesses in Pakistan as three very different and important companies launched their own e-commerce portals:

TCS Connect is the online portal of TCS Couriers, Pakistan’s most reliable and wide-reaching logistics company. In May 2012, TCS launched its online shopping portal, TCS Connect, which has products like computers, mobile phones, home and kitchen appliances and even automobile accessories.

Labels eStore is the online store for Pakistan’s largest high-end fashion outlets. With its product lines covering the biggest fashion designers in Pakistan, it targets high-end consumers in the local market and the Pakistani diaspora across the world.

Daraz.pk represents the fashion vertical of the global venture developers, Rocket Internet. The company did not enter into our local online market arena at the behest of Pakistani entrepreneurs who sought funding, but rather as a ‘top-down’ decision by Oliver Samwer to capture the developing Pakistani market in the long-term.

The establishment and subsequent success of these and other businesses have led to a greater focus on e-commerce sites. They may be other clothing brands expanding their businesses online, logistics companies either starting online stores themselves or providing tools and consultancy for brick-and-mortar retail owners to start a digital side to their existing businesses, or young entrepreneurs themselves wanting to get into this nascent business.

Whatever the case, online stores are here to stay in Pakistan and will only attain a ...


http://mashable.com/2013/04/24/pakistan-tech-entrepreneurs/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece on Shehzad Roy's "Chal Parha" GeoTV series to improve education in Pakistan:

Last month, well-known Pakistani pop star, Shehzad Roy made an appearance at Harvard to talk about music, activism and his new documentary series, Chal Parha (Urdu for: Come, Teach), which highlights the extensive issues plaguing Pakistan’s education system.

Having visited over 200 schools across the country, in an interview with DAWN, Roy stated: “In each episode we highlight an issue from public schools, for example, corporal punishment, medium of instruction, population, textbooks, curriculum, teachers.”

He added, “I want to share the lessons that we have learnt; both good and ugly. We want people to know the obstacles standing in the way of improving the structure of education in government schools while also highlighting the remarkable individuals committed to the teaching profession. These people prove the power of individual efforts.”

Broadcast on a local television channel, GEO TV, the show has gained immense popularity, fast making an impact in a country where, according to the non-profit Alif Ailaan, the government spends just 2.4 percent of its national GDP on education and where just over half of children enroll in primary school.

Mariam Chughtai, the founder of Harvard’s Pakistan Student Group told The Diplomat that the singer was invited primarily because the student group “is committed to changing the discourse on Pakistan at Harvard from one of terrorism and challenges, to that of resilience, art and social change.”

“[Roy] embodied for us an activist who is using music to make an impact on the ground, which is why his discussants, Professor Ali Asani and I were able to have a conversation with him in light of how artists have historically played a key role in keeping governments and rulers accountable,” Chughtai said.

“Roy himself spoke of the main learnings he has had in his journey of Chal Parha, including clippings from his show which illustrated these learnings. They represented both strengths and weaknesses of society in being ready for change on education.”

Alongside his music career, which, over the past couple of years, has veered sharply into the direction of socio-political commentary, Roy has managed to rather successfully integrate both his music and humanitarian work
----------
Roy told Dawn, “We have installed thumb-printing attendance machines in the five provinces to bring transparency to the issue of teacher absenteeism. We are now collecting this data and are happy to report that teacher attendance has increased considerably in these schools. Similarly, in the episode on corporal punishment, we are proposing a law banning physical abuse in schools and we plan to diligently pursue this issue in the media.”
....


http://thediplomat.com/the-pulse/2013/05/16/shehzad-roy-fighting-for-change-in-pakistani-education/

Riaz Haq said...

MasterYourMath dot com is ready for students' use
http://www.masteryourmath.com/

This is the first year KG through 12 grade students in 46 states that have adopted the ‘Common Core’ will be tested on the Common Core material.
What is Common Core? In a nutshell education material that is part of the Common Core course is what the authorities believe students of a specific grade should be taught. The students are supposed to show their proficiency in the Common Core course material by taking standardized tests at the end of the school year.
Do we know what the Common Core tests will look like? May be. Somewhat. We know a little bit about the upcoming tests because the two assessment agencies, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced), have, on their web sites, presented a few sample questions. But knowing a bit about the test questions is one thing and taking the actual test something different.
Realizing the need to develop a place on the Internet where students can take a test very much like the real ‘Common Core’ test, a few concerned parents got together to design a testing web site to meet the needs of the students. That web site, MasterYourMath dot com (http://www.masteryourmath.com/), is now functional. MasterYourMath dot com is not only for the founders’ children, it is for all the children, everybody…for free. Currently, at MasterYourMath dot com web site [http://www.masteryourmath.com/] students can take Common Core look-alike mathematics tests for Grades 3, 4, and 5. Plan is to add tests for other grades too. MasterYourMath dot com founders hope to see students all over the US and beyond take advantage of this easy-to-use web site to test themselves and identify their areas of strength and weakness in the Common Core material.
http://www.masteryourmath.com/

Riaz Haq said...

The new trend of online educational assistance to students would soon become a viable alternative to academies which can be found in every nook and corner with a general perception to achieve good grades in examinations.

The idea of attending academies became popular a decade ago and even parents are also of the view that there was no concept of after-school tuition in their student life.

But now, a general perception has developed that a student, without attending academies, cannot get good marks.

Probably, this has been the reason for parents to blindly spend on their children's academies whether tutors are clearing the concepts or not that is usually not the concern but parents simply get satisfied from the fact that their child is getting "extra assistance for studies."

The other fact is that owing to mushrooming of academies, standards of teaching at schools have dropped with no efforts to fix them.

"All this has given rise to academy mafia which has plagued our society. We see tuition centres opening in every other street," Muhammad Iqbal, father of a student, said on Sunday.

He said such centres exploit both parents and students in the name of `quality education' while in reality, all this is a result of lack of `quality education' in schools and colleges.

Rahim Khan, guardian of a 9th class student, informed that the fast growing academy industry is a living proof that teachers are unable to deliver their concepts effectively.

What is even more painful is that many a time teachers deliberately do not clear concepts of their students so that they are left with no choice but to join their academies in the evening.

He termed this situation "very sad" and supported the trend of online education, which, he said, would be a viable alternative to throwing money to support a broken system.

"Our education sector is already bickering in pain. There is a dire need for institutes to come up with solutions to stop this exploitation," he opined.

The first alternative is Sabaq Foundation's website www.sabaq.pk which is an online video tutorial website with free video lectures for Pakistani students. The website provides tutorials for four main science subjects -- Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology for SSC, FSc and O Level students. The best thing about this website is that all tutorials have been prepared and sequenced following the exact syllabus of respective boards Cambridge, Federal, Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Balochistan.

Another example is that of Maktab.pk which is quite similar to Sabaq and provides lecture videos for four science subjects for FSc students.

So clearly, there are people who recognize the deficiencies of the current state of affairs and are working to resolve them.

When contacted, an education expert was of the view that non-profit initiatives

like these can be a game changer in society and once enough awareness is created about such free educational resources, students can

surely get rid of hassle and cost of after-school academies.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-6-296927-Online-help-for-studies-a-viable-alternative-to-academies