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Collaborative Learning 2.0 for Pakistan

Phil Cruver

The technological evolution of Web 2.0 tools has produced a global platform that empowers the collective wisdom and intelligence of the crowd. Powerful arrays of technologies are emerging as ecosystems for extending, enhancing and enabling learning in an accelerated mode.

The importance of Learning 2.0

Deemed “Learning 2.0”, these online collaborative, interactive, and just-in-time information delivery technologies are encroaching on mainstream education in developed economies. The planets in Pakistan’s education constellation are aligning for universal adoption with its rapidly growing Internet infrastructure, increased funding from donor nations and an overwhelming demand from an illiterate population for which only scaling via Learning 2.0 technologies can provide the solution.

These new and innovative technologies are not intended as replacements for traditional education, but rather as extensions that enhance, compliment and scale learning in deep and powerful ways. Moreover, technology tends to transcend ethnic quagmires undermining consensus in countries having diverse cultures, languages and governmental jurisdictions. Could the challenges of Pakistan’s National Education Policy be expedited with interactive communication and collaborative technologies? Let’s explore some of the learning features of these emerging technologies.

Tagging, the practice of attaching a descriptive word or phrase to a piece of online content for the purpose of linking it to other related digital media, is a well-known web phenomenon. Students searching for those tags can retrieve that specific and relevant content; thus, facilitating just-in-time learning and creating new possibilities for creative expression.

The Learning 2.0 Platform for Teachers and Students in Pakistan has introduced a new technology that provides the capability to transcend the limitations of simple tagging for describing entire chunks of rich media. This next generation of tagging and its derivative progeny – linking and searching – allows the creation of direct links to specific parts within a larger selection of media. By indexing metadata, which enables tagging specific sections, you get deeper data information with the descriptor “deep tagging”.

Creating just in time learning environments

Consider the possibilities for just-in-time learning: educators record their multi-hour lectures with an inexpensive webcam, tag and upload the video files onto the Learning 2.0 Platform as small digestible chunks – reusable learning objects. Students can pinpoint and repeatedly review the relevant information without enduring the entire session. Deep tagging metadata allows them to jump instantly to that specific section within the video for the information they need to learn, anytime and from anyplace with web access.

The adjoining image illustrates how deep tagging enhances collaborative learning. Abdul Aziz Bhatti, Principal at the Federal Government Model School for Boys G-0/4 in Islamabad was videotaped giving a lecture about Chemistry. Students tagged the video while watching and their tags are indexed and made available to all who subsequently watch the presentation. Students can also comment upon their peers’ tags and all comments are emailed to the teacher for response and interaction.

Link to Principal Bhatti’s Lecture.

Educators can also provide students with links to their lectures and assignments to tag as a class project. With this technology they can tag “chapters” and “topics” within the media file with a descriptive text for each tag. Additionally, all tags can be exported and distributed as a blog.

Once the students tag a portion of a video or locate a tagged section of a video that is relevant to what they wish to learn, they may want to share the link with others. They can embed this as a deep link on their website, blog, or even in an email message. When other students click on the deep link, they will be taken not to the beginning of the video but to that precise section within the video.

Rather than conducting a search for keywords or tags that describe an entire video, students can conduct deep searches for tags that describe specific sections within a video and then immediately jump to that precise portion of the video clip. This saves time and facilitates education because students don’t have to watch a five-minute video to find a five-second nugget of information they need to understand.

How do these deep technologies specifically enhance learning?

  • They increase the granularity of indexed media, allowing specific parts of video lectures to be more easily remixed, linked, and reused.
  • They engage students to co-create content via annotation of lectures.
  • They make media, as an instructional tool more efficient since reviewing streaming video is less time consuming than print media.

Also, these deep technologies enhance the educational content. The more the commenting and annotating, the more valuable the learning asset becomes as the wisdom of numerous and diverse interested parties add layers of collective intelligence to the video. Furthermore, specific moments of time within these videos can be instantaneously identified and retrieved using with the Learning 2.0 Platform metadata search engine.

A new hope for education in Pakistan

Consider the opportunity for enhancing the quality of education in Pakistan with the ability to access thousands of video lectures produced by the top teachers throughout the country. This digital archive could be searched as indexed metadata by key words within the annotations. Not only would this video library compliment and extend traditional learning but it would also provide scale, giving millions of students access to a quality 21st Century education.

This past October, President Obama signed the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act (Kerry-Lugar Bill), which authorizes tripling U.S. civilian economic and development assistance to Pakistan to $1.5 billion annually for the next five years. Education is a priority; therefore, the adoption of Learning 2.0 as a complimentary component to Pakistan’s national curriculum, would cost a pittance while fostering a new culture of learning. It would also be a promising and positive step towards educating millions of students with the new literacy they will require to compete in a global flat world economy.

Phil Cruver

7 Responses to “Collaborative Learning 2.0 for Pakistan”

  1. Its great to learn that a new initiative in the education sector is being launched. Though earlier efforts couldn’t deliver mainly for lack of sustainablity in those programmes, still I can see relatively strong factors that make me optimistic of the success, as US is backing this project.

    To ensure greater acceptability and effectiveness of the programme, most important factor could be upgrading the capacity of public sector academic institutions mainly in rural areas, as still two-third population lives there.

    A balanced growth approach is not yet obsulete as more than two-third rural areas are without electricity and this facility would benefit only those few fortunates who already enjoy such facilities.

    Judicious distribution of resources would be another important factor that can ensure more effective results/output.


  2. Shahnoor Ahmed

    Thank you for marking me this piece. It is wonderful to know that new technology is being used to overcome some of the traditional obstacles and make way for enlightenment in some of the most underserved areas. I wish this initiative success and hope that it is sustainable over time and finds roots within communities as aid money will not flow indefinitely. We hear it time and again that education is the only hope to fight fundamentalism and to open minds to make room for tolerance but the process is slow and costly,

  3. This would be a dream come true. Of the same order as Wikipedia.

    I was wondering what the relation was, if any, between this tagging effort and the semantic web:

    One of the curses of tagging is the ontology of the tags:

    Is this addressed, or do you stick to impressionistic tags? And how can the students handle such problems?

    I know that there are many, many initiatives to develop tag sets and ontologies for equivalent tagging and metadata attempts. In the language field you could look, eg, at the LREC conferences.
    (the papers are all on-line and freely available)

    Are there contacts with any of these other effort?

  4. I would appreciate getting info on the following:
    1. How do students get access to computers and the net?
    2. How do I contact Mr. Bhatti's or the students involved in this experiment.
    3. What is cost of this endeavor
    Thank you

  5. shahzad iqbal

    well i appreciate the effort, the energies and time spent on this endeavour which hopefully workout. so hats off to the team.

    However, keeping track of the past and pattern of non succesful initiatives – my concerns are little different.

    I agree with the power of ICTs and change it can create in any society. We have many good examples in this regard but as far as Pakistan is concerned, the answer and path is not very simple.

    ICT proliferation in pakistan is much higher than other countries in the region and in world but only limited to use of mobile phones. other tools like internet access is very limited and only accesible to 17% of the country’s population (as claimed by PTA), mostly in well developed, highly literate urban centers.

    Understanding level of the technology, awareness, availability of required infrastructure and resources, both human and financial are things that are hinderances in the technology proliferation, in addition to cultural norms, values and societal thinking pattern.

    But the most important thing needed is the technical infrastructure in an affordable cost that enables people to access such information and AVAILABILITY OF ELECTRICITY is the key for initiatives like this. I agree with farzan in his point that a balanced growth approach is not yet obsulete With an average power failures of 6 – 8 hours per day in urban centers like karachi, lahore – even 20 hours in rural areas on a regular basis in Pakistan has started showing its toll. Like few days ago I met a student who is doing degree from Virtual University – the only and finest virtual education networks , saying that he has not seen the lectures on the designated tv channel due to power failure.This is happening from the past one month and now he is conerned about his exams as he has no idea about the topics covered in his course. Faisalabad, the textile hub of the country which generates average 30 bn dollars annually mainly exporting goods to the world has reported one million jobless labors (mar 2010) just because of the shortage of electricity.

    Affordability is another neglected issue. Cost of using a computer also matters, especially in Pakistan where there is an official inflation of 9 %. A regular desktop computer with 15 ” CRT monitor uses 350 watts per hour while a laptop uses 50 watts of electricity. The consumption increases as the system gets older, sometimes reaches 1000 watts for a desktop. With average PKR 8 per unit electricity charges (unit is 1000 watts) it costs 24 Rs. for a 3 hour per day use which is quite normal if someone use computer for studies alone in a 25 day month, making an average Rs. 600 for computer use only. With official minimum wage of Rs. 6000 and majority of population fall in this category, how can he spare Rs. 600 for electricity alone.

    So lets hope that this initiative works, fulfiling dream of a properous and developed Pakistan

  6. I can tell you from experience by working and outsourcing to pakistani tech groups and or coding experts that they are very smart, sharp and have desire to learn technology. By expanding technology education to the masses in these means it will definetely help in the education of many Pakistani kids. I am glad to learn that education enhancements are made to the mases instead of the few elite. I have deeply found respect for the pakistani tech individuals and our business would not survive without their help.

  7. Jules Agostinelli

    Hi this is kinda of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding skills so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!


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