Implementation of National Virtual University as Hybrid University Model

Presented to: Dr. Naveed A. Malik, Rector Virtual University Pakistan
Dr. Hassan Sohaib Murad, Rector University of Management & Technology
Dr. M.H Qazi, Rector University of Lahore
Mahmood Sadiq, Chairman University of South Asia
Dr. Nazir Ahmad Sanghi, Allama Iqbal Open Univesity
Dr. Sohail Ummer, Chairman Iqbal Academy

Executive Summary

Advancements in higher education teaching and learning process assisted with latest communications and computers technology reflects the conception of Virtual University as a tool to educate people and to create such capacity of human recourses which are viable and efficient to be a value of socio-economic system where every individual contributes through knowledge and makes national resource as beneficial as promised by nation.

A well financially planned project named “Virtual University Pakistan” has been implemented to provide best online education across the region. Virtual University Pakistan has implemented over 100 Virtual Campuses to assure that online education with mere changes in distance learning (Synchronous Education) concept has reached to educate every student interested in getting a world class IT degree.

Pakistan has taken an initiative of Virtual University and promises that it would provide its services to African and some of the Asian countries. No doubt Pakistan has a massive pool of intellectuals and researchers in the domain of Information Technology and Education but the Idea of Virtual University and online education is new to Pakistan and for its researchers. Previous practices of different countries proved as failure in running Virtual Universities and online education setups because of inadequate research in online education and their misconception about the fact that Interactive Online Learning is just putting the lecturer in the machine and their proponents claim that the online systems can guarantee learning, which is false! Technology can’t guarantee learning any more than a library on a campus guarantees learning. In the USA, corporate interests often promote this misconception. Due to their misconception, after spending 13 million dollars to establish an online university involving 19 states, Western Governors University has enrolled mere 120 students in the 130 courses offered as of September 1999 and still virtually empty after a year. Meanwhile, other new types of institutions are thriving in the USA, like University of Phoenix: 60,000 students and annual profits of $33 million, and DeVry Institutes: 48,000 students and annual profits of $24 million.

The idea of implementing second Virtual University is conceived out of desire to train human resource on quality education standards where particular theories are studied to measure success and failure of the program. Quality measures of current and future socio-economic interests have been evaluated through several of studies where different researchers from academia and industry participated.

Virtual University, Online Education, E-Learning are the new conception of imparting quality education to distant places without the barriers of time and space, however these programs may work as assisting educational and technological solutions for running institutions.

Proposed Project

The proposed university questions traditional assumptions about higher education, unbundling faculty roles and challenging the need for residency in credentialing. Still credit-based, the proposed university will use this only as a starting point in a pragmatic approach to individualized lifelong learning and workforce development.

This new paradigm of learning is based on a streamlined structure that effectively leverages inexpensive web technology, doing away with much of the infrastructure associated with universities. Student services, human resources, library access, and scholarships will be outsourced to private and public institutions and vendors. The proposed University does not compete for country funding, instead taking an entrepreneurial approach. Like a business start-up, it will grow only as enrollments, relying on public/private partnerships and a variety of revenue streams. Tuition and fees are disaggregated, with students paying only for what they want and get in services, cutting out hidden subsidies.

The proposed university is a country wide, not institution-centered, initiative; thereby promoting collaboration – not competition. Rather, all institutions stand to benefit through increased enrollments generated by proposed university students. Institutions that are landlocked in enrollment, with no room to grow except through additional budget or tuition increases, the proposed university will provide a way to efficiently bridge scarce resources across the Commonwealth. It will do what no one institution or collaboration has been able to do, in part because of rivalry and issues of resource allocation.

Many new virtual university efforts fail because they try to do too much. Cost studies show that the economy of scale needed for building online programs is very high. The proposed university has a limited but critical mission and will increase revenues and decrease costs per student FTE at other institutions through partnerships and outsourcing that promote best practices. With the unmet demand of enrollment projections, the need for continuous training in a knowledge economy, increasing numbers of non-traditional students, the problems of underserved populations, and the overcrowding of bricks and mortar facilities, Pakistan needs a new paradigm for learning – the National Virtual University.

The Proposed University aims at implementing and institutionalizing the emerging possibilities of constructivism based E-Learning to support balanced country development. An increasing share of companies and institutions in region is part of the knowledge-driven economy. Employees and non-traditional students need to be endowed with academic knowledge, which has to be updated consistently during the working life.

Learning via Internet is the key to meet this challenge. Online education enhances the accessibility to academic education and professional training. The people can integrate better learning activities into working life and they can be provided with learning content more independent of the presence of educational institutions in their surroundings. This opens new possibilities to a more equal supply of initiating region with academic education via Internet to support the development of balanced regions. This becomes even more relevant in the course of the transformation to information society and knowledge-driven economy, which requires even more up-to-date knowledge. E-Learning offers should adopt the regional structures and needs, offer the learners to finalize their single learning activities with an internationally recognized Bachelor, Master or PhD degrees.

Proposed National Virtual University specifically aims

  1. to raise the attractiveness and enhance the competitiveness of our country,
  2. to be a key player in the rapidly developing multilingual and multicultural market for digital media used in higher education, further education and professional training (E-Learning),
  3. to design, produce and distribute high-quality E-Content products and services (internationalization), which are easily accessible and adapt them rapidly to the requirements of the target markets (localization),
  4. to pool resources and share and specialize the expertise available in order to achieve a higher quality of education and training,
  5. to experience the educational mix for future professional needs,

The Learning Management System functions include synchronous and asynchronous groupware, user access control, tracking students’ progress, installation of learning resources, control over the virtual learning environment, storage/retrieval of learning contents, and security. Universities will manage learning management systems that have been developed by different software vendors.

The Content Server provides both a metadata index of it’s contents and courseware components, may contain both static text and graphics as well as dynamic content such as video, animations, and simulations. Publishers and universities will manage content servers that have been developed by different software vendors.

The Student Profile Server contains personal, performance, preference, and portfolio information. This data represents a rich resource that a user can draw on to facilitate, customize, and manage his or her learning experience(s).

External interfaces to Back Office Databases provide a means by which IMS-compliant content and management software can leverage external resources. These include registration databases, grade databases, online course catalogs, online class schedules, and other content or information databases.