Friday, August 20, 2010

Getting down to work in Karachi

The last couple of days have been busy, hot and very tiring.

One of my remits while I am here in the Aga Khan University, is to work with the Nursing and Midwifery Faculty to explore eLearning, how to construct online courses and to support staff to get a sense of some of the online tools that are available.

So far I have run two workshops - one was a computer session looking at online tools that can be used for collaboration such as wiki, Google Documents and Delicious. And yesterday, I facilitated a more formal session looking at how to construct online courses.

I have never been one for drinking water - much prefer tea - but in the computer session I drank four litres of water...and there wasn't much that came out the other end! So I am finding these sessions are really tiring me compared to how I'd feel if I was leading them in New Zealand.

Willingness to learn
What I am really enjoying is the engagement with the nursing and midwifery faculty staff. They are very keen to learn but at the same time, have a very astute take on things and totally get the concepts I am trying to put across. They are very open to new ideas and very happy to get stuck in with the computer skills...they do not appear to be so afraid of computers and the Internet compared to the staff I usually work with. But I should also say, they are much younger than the staff I usually work with, so I am wondering if that is making a difference.

IT policies
I am also very impressed with the attitudes of the IT staff. I have been surprised at how open the Internet system is at the university - I have not come across any restrictions to sites like YouTube or Facebook, and there was not even a whimper when I asked for Second Life to be downloaded on the laboratory computers...unlike some institutions I could mention in New Zealand.

Different yet the same
What has struck me is how similar we are in the educational issues we face, both in Pakistan and New Zealand. We both have limited resources, yet a need to provide more flexible education. I know Pakistan have far more serious issues with access and equipment, but it is something we need to think about as well in NZ. I do think that mobile learning is a very real option for Pakisatn, because even very poor people have cell phones. Nevertheless, it is clear that there are many, many people who will not even have access to rudimentry education....all they are worried about is surviving from day to day. This makes me feel very helpless but also very grateful about the life I live, and reminds me not to take anything for granted.

Next week
Next week I am doing another couple of workshops about using social media for teaching and learning, and then looking at free tools that can be used for presentations etc such as Animoto. I am also having some free sessions where I do one-on-one work with people to discuss their work and anything they want to learn.

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