The revolutionary Khan Academy is a brainchild of Bangladeshi-American Salman Khan. It is growing in popularity among Pakistanis wishing to take advantage of "Free World Class Education" offered online via short 10-15 minute videos. The subjects range from math, physics, chemistry and biology to astronomy, history, economics, finance, engineering and medicine. Khan counts Microsoft founder Bill Gates among his fans and students. Gates has described Sal Khan as his favorite teacher, and Gates Foundation has provided funding to enable Khan Academy to grow.
Former hedge fund analyst known as Sal Khan in Silicon Valley, the Academy founder has an MBA from Harvard Business School and three Bachelors degrees in Math, Electrical Engineering, and Computer Science from MIT. Here's how Khan explains on his website why he decided to become a teacher to the world: “A lot of my own educational experience was spent frustrated with how information was conveyed in textbooks and lectures. I felt like fascinating and intuitive concepts were almost intentionally being butchered into pages and pages of sleep-inducing text and monotonic, scripted lectures.”
The number of unique visitors to Khan Academy has grown fourfold from about a million a month in 2010 to 4 million in December, 2011. Bulk of the hits to the educational website still come from the United States, but the latest Alexa traffic data shows that Pakistan is among a handful of countries (shown in green on the map) which are bringing a growing number of learners to it.
Khan's ties to Pakistan go beyond Pakistani visitors to his online academy; his wife is from Karachi, and the man in charge of translating Khan's videos to Urdu and other foreign languages is former Pakistani president's son Bilal Musharraf who lives in Silicon Valley.
Pakistan is ranked fourth in the world for expansion in broadband Internet access which is fueling growth in traffic to video sites like Khan Academy. Planned Urdu translations of video tutorials will only add to the already increasing traffic.
Bilal Musharraf told Pakistan's Dawn newspaper that the goal is to have 1000 videos ready in 10 different languages in a year or two. And the project is mostly volunteer-driven. Khan academy offers best practices of “how-to-dub or re-do Sal’s existing videos, and volunteers take it from there. At present, someone in Japan is working on an Indonesian playlist and engineering students in Saudi Arabia are working on an Arabic playlist. In a matter of months, hundreds of videos have already been translated. You can now learn the Khan way in Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese, French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Polish, Sinhalese, Tamil, Thai and Urdu.
Sal Khan's efforts are reinventing education and making quality teaching accessible to global population of students everywhere, including developing nations like Pakistan. One example of innovation inspired by Khan can be seen at Los Altos schools in Silicon Valley, CA, as shown by a recent CBS 60 Minutes segment.
"There are no textbooks and no teacher lecturing at the blackboard. Instead, students watch Khan videos at home the night before to learn a concept, then they come to class the next day and do problem sets called "modules," to make sure they understand. If they get stuck they can get one-on-one help from the teacher. Less lecturing, more interaction. What you think of as homework you do at school, and school work you do at home. It's called "flipping the classroom"..."
While anyone can benefit by watching Khan Academy video tutorials online any time and anywhere, it's also important to integrate Khan's video lessons as part of the classrooms learning in a way that is currently being piloted by Los Altos schools.
Here's a video clip from Khan Academy in Urdu:
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Excellent resource. Thanks very much. Pavan
Clear, informative, simple. Like your post! Don’t stop writing, you’ve given me lots of good info!
According to latest stats issued by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, number of broadband subscribers in Pakistan reached 1.79 million till December 2011, adding some 65,000 subscribers in the month.
The number of DSL subscribers rose to 792,397, while the number of WiMAX internet users grew to 495,285. EV-DO customers were 459,790 till December while another 37,491 people used HFC to access the internet. 7,215 users were recorded as FTTH subscribers in December.
Here's a Daily Times report on a traveling exhibit to promote chemistry learning in Pakistan:
The International Traveling Expo ‘It’s all about Chemistry’ opened at Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) on Wednesday.
Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF) in collaboration with the embassy of France in Islamabad and Scientific, Technical, Industrial and Cultural Centre (CCSTI), France has arranged the Expo, prepared by Centre Sciences-France, UNESCO and partners, for providing a first-hand picture of the role of chemistry in daily life to students and general public.
The Expo is aimed at increasing the interest of young people in Chemistry and to generate enthusiasm among students for take chemistry as a subject of their studies.
The expo started its journey in Pakistan from Karachi in January and after travelling through Tandojam, Khairpur, DG Khan, Multan, Lahore, Mansehra, Peshawar and Swat has reached Islamabad from where it would travel to Sibbi and conclude in Quetta.
Study of Chemistry is critical in addressing challenges such as global climate change, in providing sustainable sources of clean water, food energy and in well-being of people.
The science of chemistry and its applications produce medicines, fuels, metals and virtually all other manufactured products.
PSF Chairman Prof Dr Manzoor Soomro inaugurated the 3-day Expo while French Attache for Cooperation Gilles Angles, AIOU Faculty of Sciences Dean Prof Dr Noshad Khan and AIOU Chemistry Department’s Chairperson Prof Dr Naghmana Rashid were also present on this occasion.
The displays of the expo include Black and White Chemistry, Molecules in Action, Nature Returns with a bang, Intelligent Textiles-Dress Intelligently, Dress Usefully, Materials that Heal Automatically, Oil-bases or Water-based paint, Pure air at home, What’s Going on in my saucepan, Town Water or field Water, Experts against Fraud, When Art and Science Meet, Molecular Motors, Bio-fuels for Green Driving and Responsible Farming etc.
Dr Manzoor Soomro highlighted the PSF programmes and activities for promotion of science in the country for mental developmental of the nation and socio-economic development of the country.
He said PSF’s subsidiary organisation Pakistan Museum of Natural History is playing an important role in imparting education on natural sciences through informal means.
He appreciated French embassy for its cooperation to PSF in its different programmes as well as providing opportunity of higher education to students of far flung areas of Pakistan through its scholarships programme...
Here's Daily Times on plans to expand open schooling in Pakistan:
Canada-based Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) have agreed on a draft plan to launch open-schooling system in Pakistan for achieving millennium goals, ensuring universal education by the year 2015.
The main features of the draft plan were explained at a presentation given by COL consultant Dr Tony Dodds at the AIOU’s headquarters. The COL was created by commonwealth heads of governments to encourage development and sharing of open learning and distance education knowledge, resources and technologies. Core funding comes from voluntary contributions from member governments in which Canada is the largest contributor. Under the proposed plan, an Institute of Open Schooling and Lifelong Learning will be established at the AIOU to impart education at primary, middle and higher secondary levels throughout Pakistan through distance and open-learning system. The system has already been successfully tested in many other countries, including the UK, India, Namibia and Tanzania, to successful overcome illiteracy. AIOU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Nazir Ahmed Sangi, on the occasion, said that open schooling system would be a milestone in achieving the millennium goals. The plan, he said, will be implemented in consultation and cooperation of provincial governments and other federal government institutions. The AIOU was looking forward to act as facilitator and coordinator in fighting illiteracy at all levels.
He said the university had the required capacity and academic potential for developing necessary curriculum and other parameters to implement the plan in its true spirit. Mukhtar Hussain Talpur, AIOU Bureau of University Extension and Special Programmes director, said the proposed plan would provide a roadmap for upgrading literacy at all levels in the country, particularly in the far-flung and less-developed regions.
He said the AIOU would be seeking support from relevant institutions from home and abroad to achieve the desired objectives. An NGO, Plan International, has already provided Rs 18.4 million to the AIOU to promote primary and post-primary education in the country. Dr Dodds explained that through the open and distance learning millions of Pakistanis, currently outside the formal educational system, would have access to opportunities to undertake organised educational activities at pre-tertiary level which would improve the quality of their lives.
The AIOU will develop a wide-range of educational courses at post-literary pre-tertiary level and set up effective open learning structures and system for those young and adult people who are currently outside the formal and non-formal education system...
Here's an excerpt of a BR report on smartphone market in Pakistan:
(Pakistan currently has) five to six million smartphone users.
A rather bullish estimate is cast by Ericsson Pakistan which anticipates some 50 million smartphone users in Pakistan by 2016, accounting for 70 percent of operator revenues.
It could, however, be misleading to equate the potential mobile broadband uptake entirely with the incidence of smartphone users in Pakistan.
The cue might actually lie in the current mobile internet usage, which is reportedly growing despite high tariffs and laggard speeds on GPRS/EDGE networks.
According to PTA Chairman, mobile internet users crossed 15 million in June 2011, just four million shy of PC internet users.
Telenor Pakistan, arguably the dominant player in mobile internet services, shared with BR Research that every fourth Telenor customer is a mobile internet user.
High adoption rate is found in the 18-26 age, cohort and significantly higher data consumption is witnessed among business users who are mostly aged 30 and above.
Rural and semi-urban areas in the North are reported to have surprisingly high usage.
Interestingly, just three percent of total handsets on Telenors network are smartphones, when over a quarter of its customers have been mobile internet users.
This possibly means that the feature phones are at work here, which are not smartphones but have additional functions over dumb phones, including internet settings.
This could imply that the barriers to smartphone adoption may not really hold back the mobile broadband uptake, because a feature phone would suffice to access high-speed internet.
However, the appeal of a smartphone - which is capable to communicate with platforms like Android Market, Apple Store, and Blackberry App World, along with a plethora of third-party mobile applications - cannot be matched.
Besides handset functionality, the telecom leaders in their interactions with BR Research have cited two other decisive factors for the growth in mobile broadband users.
These are the development of local language content and creative mobile applications, and pricing of the data services as per needs of various segments.
There is a strong case for a large-scale mobile broadband adoption in Pakistan given the current data consumption trends.
A high penetration of mobile broadband can go much beyond mobile entertainment, social networking, and business usage.
It will augur well for areas, like education, healthcare and governance that are in dire need to be turned around for Pakistans socioeconomic progress.
Here's a piece on Salman Khan written by Bill Gates for Time 100 list:
Like a lot of great innovators, Salman Khan didn't set out to change the world. He was just trying to help his teenage cousin with her algebra from across the country. But from a closet turned office in his Silicon Valley apartment, Sal, 35, has produced an amazing library of online lectures on math, science and a host of other subjects. In the process, he has turned the classroom — and the world of education — on its head.
The aspiration of khanacademy.org is to give every kid a chance at a free, world-class education. The site has over 3,000 short lessons that allow kids to learn at their own pace. Practice exercises send students back to the pertinent video when they're having trouble. And there's a detailed dashboard for teachers who use Khan Academy in their classrooms.
Early pilot programs in California classrooms show terrific promise. I've used Khan Academy with my kids, and I'm amazed at the breadth of Sal's subject expertise and his ability to make complicated topics understandable.
Sal Khan is a true education pioneer. He started by posting a math lesson, but his impact on education might truly be incalculable.
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2111975_2111976_2111942,00.html
Here's a BBC story on an experiment involving slum children learning to use computers on their own:
(Prof Mitra) has watched the children teach themselves - and others - how to use the machines and gather information.
Professor Mitra's work began (in 1999) when he was working for a software company and decided to embed a computer in the wall of his office in Delhi that was facing a slum.
"The children barely went to school, they didn't know any English, they had never seen a computer before and they didn't know what the internet was."
To his surprise, the children quickly figured out how to use the computers and access the internet.
"I repeated the experiment across India and noticed that children will learn to do what they want to learn to do."
He saw children teaching each other how to use the computer and picking up new skills.
One group in Rajasthan, he said, learnt how to record and play music on the computer within four hours of it arriving in their village.
"At the end of it we concluded that groups of children can learn to use computers on their own irrespective of who or where they are," he said.
His experiments then become more ambitious and more global.
In Cambodia, for example, he left a simple maths game for children to play with.
"No child would play with it inside the classroom. If you leave it on the pavement and all the adults go away then they will show off to one another about what they can do," said Prof Mitra, who now works at Newcastle University in the UK.
He has continued his work in India.
"I wanted to test the limits of this system," he said. "I set myself an impossible target: can Tamil speaking 12-year-olds in south India teach themselves biotechnology in English on their own?"
The researcher gathered 26 children and gave them computers preloaded with information in English.
"I told them: 'there is some very difficult stuff on this computer, I won't be surprised if you don't understand anything'."
Two months later, he returned.
Initially the children said they had not learnt anything, despite the fact that they used the computers everyday.
"Then a 12-year-old girl raised her hand and said 'apart from the fact that improper replication of the DNA contributes to genetic disease - we've understood nothing else'."
Further experiment showed that having a person - known as "the granny figure" - stand behind the children and encourage them raised standards even higher.
Returning to the UK, he fine-tuned his method even further.
He gave groups of four children a computer each and set them a series of GCSE questions.
The groups were allowed to exchange information and swap members.
"The best group solved everything in 20 minutes, the worst in 45 minutes."
To prove that the children were learning, and not just skimming information off the web, he returned two months later and set the same questions. Crucially, this time the children had to answer them on their own with no computer aids.
"The average score when I did it with computers was 76%. When I did it without computers, the average score was 76% - they had near photographic recall."
Professor Mitra has now formalised the lessons from his experiments and has come up with a new concept for schools called SOLE (Self Organised Learning Environments).
These spaces consist of a computer with a bench big enough to let four children sit around the screen.
"It doesn't work if you give them each a computer individually," he said.
For his experiments he has also created a "granny cloud" - 200 volunteer grandmothers who can be called upon to video chat with the kids and provide encouragement..
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..
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."
Here's PakistanToday on ADB assistance for TeleTaleem online education:
ISLAMABAD - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a technical assistance (TA) grant of US$ 1.1 million to Pakistan’s TeleTaleem (Pvt.) Limited to boost access to quality education and vocational training in Pakistan using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
“This project will open new vistas of online learning opportunities for students and teachers, currently without access to quality educational and training resources. With a click of a button, students will be able to avail quality educational services regardless of their geographic location. The project will hugely benefit students and teachers, particularly girls in remote parts of the country who seek access to good educational opportunities,” said Philip Erquiaga, Director General of ADB’s Private Sector Operations Department.
Leveraging Pakistan’s fast growing ICT sector, TeleTaleem will provide ICT-assisted advanced learning environment to service basic education and technical education and vocational training (TEVT) segments. The company plans to setup 500 learning centers/points-of-access over the next 5 years, reaching out to 100,000 students and 10,000 teachers across the country.
Werner E. Liepach, ADB’s Country Director for Pakistan, and Asad Karim, Chief Executive Officer of the TeleTaleem (Pvt.) Limited, today signed the TA implementation agreement. This is ADB’s first-ever private-sector led investment in an education project.
Pakistan has made impressive gains over the last decade with spectacular ICT growth through the use of mobile phones, Internet and personal computers in the urban, semi-urban and the rural areas.
TeleTaleem will be using this widespread ICT footprint to deliver exciting and engaging teaching-learning practices and content to students and teachers, with the objective of enhancing student achievement and teacher competency.
ADB’s TA grant will also study gaps, issues and opportunities to expand the use of ICT for education by defining appropriate strategies frameworks and financially self-sustaining development and marketing plans, to achieve large scale adaptation.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2011, ADB approvals including cofinancing totaled $21.7 billion.
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:
Here's an excerpt of a News Op Ed on online education by Dr. Ata-ur-Rehman Khan:
The national focal point of this distance learning initiative selected by the HEC is the Latif Ebrahim Jamal Science Information Centre located at the University of Karachi. Over 2,000 lectures from professors based in the US, UK, Europe and Australia have been delivered through this mechanism during the last three years.
A major advance in distance learning was the availability of MIT OpenCourseWare free of charge to the world. This provided over two thousand excellent undergraduate and postgraduate courses in various disciplines delivered by the MIT faculty. There are about 20 million website visits by students from 215 countries to benefit from these courses annually and an astonishing 100 million users have benefited from them so far.
We set up a mirror website of the MITCourseWare in Pakistan to facilitate downloading when I was chairman of the HEC. These Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are also being introduced by Stanford and other universities. One such initiative, ‘Udacity’, was initiated by a Stanford professor last year and attracted 160,000 students to register for the course on artificial intelligence.
The fastest growing distance learning initiative, ‘Coursera’, was started by two Stanford professors of computer science and has already enrolled more than two million students worldwide. Harvard University has also followed the same path, teaming up with MIT to start online courses under a programme termed ‘edX’. These will be available free for developing countries.
Apple-iTunesU also offers access to websites of the leading universities in the world including Cambridge, Oxford, Yale etc, where free video lectures are available. The Khan Academy based in California has been providing school and college level materials for many years, many of which are dubbed in Urdu by a group based in NED University, Karachi.
Recently a meta search engine has been developed at the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences at Karachi University to quickly search through all these materials, and arrangements have been made to make these materials available to students and academics in Pakistan free of charge through internet and television.
The Latif Ebrahim Jamal Science Information Centre is the HEC designated national focal point for the video conferencing and distance learning programmes. The formal inauguration of educational TV is expected to occur within a couple of months. This will be a huge leap forward for education in Pakistan, and I am thrilled to be a part of this exciting initiative to help bring quality education to the doorsteps of some 100 million youngsters of Pakistan who are below the age of 19.
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.
Lao P.Dem.R. 600
Sri Lanka 50
South Africa 2000
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....
Here's an AP story on Youtube ban in Pakistan:
ToffeeTV has hit an unexpected snag. The Internet startup depended on YouTube to promote "Hokey-Pokey," ''The Umm Nyum Nyum Song" and other language-teaching clips it produces for children, but the video-sharing website has been banned in Pakistan for nearly a year.
ToffeeTV has had to save its clips on its own servers and delay the rollout of its apps, says company co-founder Rabia Garib. "It threw us off our feet," she said. "We're off schedule by about eight months."
While the tech-savvy have ways to get around the ban, the vast majority of Pakistanis who try to view YouTube get this: "Surf Safely! ... The site you are trying to access contains content that is prohibited for viewership from within Pakistan."
The made-in-America trailer for "Innocence of Muslims," the movie of which has never reached cinemas, provoked uproar throughout the Muslim world, and several U.S. diplomatic missions were targeted. In Pakistan, clashes between police and protesters left 19 people dead.
YouTube as well as Facebook were initially blocked although the government soon exempted Facebook, saying it removed the offensive material. At the time, U.S. President Barack Obama's administration asked Google, YouTube's parent, to take down the video. But the company refused, saying the trailer didn't violate its content standards.
The only other countries that block YouTube are Tajikistan, China and Iran, according to Google's transparency report that tracks restrictions of its products. Another 56 countries have localized versions of YouTube that allow for tailoring content to local standards.
Pakistan, a nation of roughly 180 million, has a democratically elected government and a legal system inherited from its former British rulers. But that system also contains significant religious strictures, and disputes over religion frequently end in bloodshed. So at the time the YouTube ban was imposed, many saw it as a necessary calming measure.
Now an advocacy group called Bytes for All is petitioning the Lahore High Court to order an end to all Internet censorship.
Muzzling YouTube "could lead to the opening up of an entire Pandora's box of moral policing and dictatorial controls despite the democracy being in place," said Furhan Hussain of Bytes for All.
At the organization's Islamabad offices, activists say the YouTube case is just the latest example. Over the years the government has periodically banned Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, but the YouTube ban has lasted the longest.
It can be circumvented via VPNs, virtual private networks that mask the user's computer but are prone to viruses and slow the Internet connection.
These proxies are too cumbersome for his staff to deal with, says Jawwad Ahmed Farid, founder and CEO of Karachi-based Alchemy Technologies, which does risk-management training for financial professionals.
It posts short videos of its classes on YouTube to attract business, but uploads fewer of them following the ban, and the volume of Pakistani customers referred through YouTube has fallen, Farid said. "My team finds it very difficult to work with all the proxies in place. It certainly slows it down a bit," he said.
Sidra Qasim is co-CEO of HOMETOWN, a Lahore-based company that helps leather workers to market products such as shoes and belts online. It used YouTube to reach customers and also to teach the workers new techniques. "Now that training part is stopped totally," she said.
Here's a News report about access to Ivy League school courses in Pakistan:
Any student sitting in Pakistan within the comfort of his bedroom or the ease of his armchair having a smartphone or a personal computer and an internet connection will now be able to access courses taught in the classrooms of Harvard, Yale, Stanford and MIT universities.
The Latif Ebrahim Jamal National Science Information Centre of the Karachi University (KU) launched a website, which will connect students in Pakistan to video lectures of professors at Ivy League universities of the world.
The web portal called the LEJ Knowledge Hub will hold thousands of full courses (0.5 lecture hours), skill development modules, research-based lectures and online mentoring lessons for school and university levels. All of this will be for free.
“Pakistan is among the first few countries of the world to launch such an initiative. History is being written right now,” said Dr Iqbal Chaudhry, the director of KU’s International Centre of Chemical and Biological Sciences, at a ceremony hosted at the Governor House on Thursday. President Mamnoon Hussain was the chief guest.
Students who log onto the website can choose if they want to be accredited for these courses or not. “I ask all educationists in the public and private sector universities to use this facility and include these internationally recognised courses in their curriculum,” Chaudhry said.
Schools can also access the portal as video tutorials from the Khan Academy have also been accommodated in the website.
Dr Atta-ur-Rehman, a former chairman of Higher Education Commission (HEC), said the website would bring about a new paradigm for Pakistan. “Universities are not about beautiful buildings, they are about beautiful minds,” he said. “Education is the only means of survival and our country has 40 percent children out of school.”
He shared a presentation titled “Higher Education: an Imperative for Social Development”, in which he highlighted what was lacking in Pakistani universities. At MIT, he claimed, graduates have started 4,000 new companies which employ 1.1 billion people. In Korea, only 5 percent of youth had university degrees till the 1960, but by 2010, 95 percent of its youth had attained higher education. Their imports increased over 350 times.
He was also hopeful that the status of the HEC would be restored, as in all countries higher education was a federal subject.
Philanthropist Aziz Latif Jamal, whose father established the LEJ centre, said: “We are one of the first countries to launch a website like the LEJ Knowledge Hub, but Pakistan has a lot of challenges ahead. Our literacy rate is a sorry 56 percent, we have untrained teachers and professors and a single digit education budget. If we are not ready to address these challenges then we are merely paying lip service to the cause of education at a time when our youth bulge is drifting towards militancy and crime.”
The president advised educational institutions to increase their pace of development so that it quenches the thirst for knowledge present in the youth of Karachi. “There was a time when business families of the city tried to outdo each other in their service to education. That is why we had the Ayesha Bawani Academy, Adamjee College and Dawood Engineering and Technology College. I pray those times return to Karachi.”
The government, he added, would resolve the pending status of the HEC and “salvage it from being ruined”.
Soft-spoken education revolutionary Sal Khan has a few ideas for how to radically overhaul higher education. First, create a universal degree that’s comparable to a Stanford degree, and second, transform the college transcript into a portfolio of things that students have actually created.
Khan is the founder, executive director, and faculty member at the Khan Academy, an online education provider.
Speaking at the Atlantic’s Navigate tech conference, Khan said that the online education providers and independent technology “boot camp” schools will end up playing an important role in pressuring legacy universities to change their outdated ways.
“I feel like society is ripe for challenging the model of school” he told The Atlantic’s editor, James Bennett, earlier this week.
“The credentialing piece is somewhat broken now,” Khan said. “A very small fraction of the population has the opportunity to attend a university that is broadly known.”
To that end, Khan said that he is working on a universal credentialing system that could compare a graduate of “Stanford or Harvard” by their raw abilities. Presumably, this credential would have to be some type of evaluation that would test and measure the abilities of all students, thereby making the granting institution irrelevant.
Last year, Sebastian Thrun, the CEO of online education provider Udacity, and California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom announced a tech industry credentialing system, the Open Education Alliance, with Khan Academy as partner.
Since then, Udacity has developed its own credential for the tech industry, the nanodegree. Similarly, Coursera, another online education provider, started awarding a “signature track” certificate to the graduates of some its tech courses.
Khan has not developed its own credential yet. Most important, neither Udacity nor Coursera has developed a degree or certificate that is comparable to a Stanford Degree. Both rely on the reputation of the granting organization — as opposed to some kind of test score. So, until Khan develops something more objective, a Stanford degree is still going to be a lot more valuable than anything else on the market.
Portfolios instead of transcript
At one point in the talk, a mother with children attending the University of California Berkeley expressed her frustration that her kids were having to turn to Khan Academy online videos to learn real world skills. She wondered how a $60,000 ultra-selective tier I degree could somehow not teach those skills.
Khan, who holds a Master’s in engineering from MIT, said that schools have dropped the ball on preparing graduates for the real world. Instead of graduating with a list of courses and a GPA, each student should have a portfolio of products.
“The transcript coming out of engineering school should essentially be the things that you’ve created,” he said.
Exams and grades are much (much) easier to administer to thousands of students. Having each student create some type of product (like a gadget or program) for graduation would require far more faculty time. There’s a lot of institutional inertia against doing anything that complicated.
Despite the fact that top tech companies like Google have publicly admitted that they don’t care very much about college degrees, colleges have not been moved to equip graduates with a portfolio of products for graduation. Khan suspects that online providers, like his Academy and others in the education space, will ultimately pressure colleges to change.
Here’s to hoping they do it soon.
Awesome! I like it, its very informative. Umay Habiba
Abdul has successfully ranked hundreds of keywords in Google without any backlinking strategy. He is in the SEO and online marketing industry since 2009. Apart from SEO and marketing, he loves web development. WordPress is the core platform which Abdul has been using for creating top notch websites over the years.
Abdul has established several successful startups such as OnlineTuting (An elearning system), OnlineUstaad (The largest hub of Urdu courses), Wali Solutions (Provides A to Z web solutions).
He is one of the top Udemy Instructors with 45,000+ students and 1900+ reviews. He engages with students on Udemy in real time and answers questions within minutes. If you have any question in mind then don't hesitate to ask Abdul via private message.
Abdul Wali, an inspirational Pakistani Biryani vendor has used the internet to transform his whole life.
He is now one of the top instructors on online learning platform, Udemy, as well as a founder of his very own teaching platform, among other things.
Abdul Wali was born in FATA to an underprivileged family. While other kids went to school, Abdul Wali started working as a cosmetic seller at the tender age of seven. Then he moved to Peshawar, selling shopping bags and toys and then later on to Lahore.
After moving to Peshawar, Wali started selling shopping bags and toys and later on, moved to Lahore.
Wali moved to Karachi in 2000. From there on, he spent his time working as a fruit and vegetable vendor and then a biryani vendor until he finally bought a mobile shop in 2008.
“In 2008, I bought a mobile shop and used a computer for the first time,” said Abdul Wali. “I took admission in an institute to do a computer course and also learn English.”
He spent the next couple of years learning about computers. In 2010, he found out that one could earn money through the internet. He did some research on his own and started working as an instructor.
“In the start, I used to earn in thousands; ten thousand, twenty thousand or even fifty sometimes,” said Abdul Wali.
Last year, he claims to have earned over $100,000 (over 1 crore Pakistani rupees), just from teaching on the internet.
“The good thing is that I never stopped learning. I try to learn every day,” he added.
Abdul Wali spent a good part of his money in buying new courses and learning new things over the internet.
“The end result of all this hard work is that now, I have knowledge as well as money.”
Currently, Abdul Wali claims to be one of the top instructors on Udemy, one of the most popular online learning platforms on the internet; founder of his own online portal Online Ustaad, an online hub for tutorials in Urdu; and the CEO of Wali Web Solutions, his very own web service provider.
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