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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