SJSU Faculty Return From Pakistan after Participating in the Final Faculty Exchange of the Three Year PDEEP Grant



On January 7, 2016  four San Jose State University [SJSU] faculty members left for Pakistan on a ten day trip filled with lots of learning and excitement. Pictured above is Professor Jason Laker, Lecturer Minna Holopainen, Professor Mohammad Saleem, and Pakistan Distance Education Enhancement Program [PDEEP] Project Director Mark Adams at the airport.

As this three year US State Department funded grant nears its’ end,  this was the final faculty exchange. The photos below give a small glimpse into the what their ten day trip included.



Professor Mohammad Saleem, PDEEP Project Director Mark Adams, Professor Jason Laker, and Lecturer Minna Holopainen stand together in front of the  new Accessibility Center in Pakistan and were gifted with beautiful flowers.



Dr. Daud (Allama Iqbal Open University), PDEEP Project Director Mark Adams, SJSU Professor Stand in shopping mall in Pakistan.



Dinner with Dr. Sangi and his wife and son. This was their final dinner before leaving for the United States.


Vice Chancellor of Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) , Dr. Siddiqui is pictured here with Professor Jason Laker (SJSU), Lecturer Minna Holopainen (SJSU), Dr. Afshan Huma (AIOU) and Dr. Nasir  Mahomood (AIOU).



PDEEP Project Director Mark Adams, AIOU Vice Chancellor Dr. Siddiqui, and SJSU Lecturer Minna Holopainen met to review the progress of the grant and lay out next steps to make the gains sustainable.


The regional directors who accompanied their students, who were so kind to travel 30 hours — by bus–from Umerkot, and 11 hours from D.G. Khan. In spite of being tired they had great energy and enthusiasm and the strong will to give their students a chance at a better life, no matter the challenges.


Pictured here are the student interns once more. Their hard work and dedication is very appreciated.


Inside the new AIOU Accessibility Centre. Once again Congratulations AIOU !



Pictured above is Dr. Mohammad Saleem (SJSU) having dinner in Pakistan.


PDEEP Project Director Mark Adams and SJSU Lecturer Minna Holopainen pictured in lobby of hotel in Islamabad.


PDEEP Project Director Mark Adams and girls on field trip to Pakistan Monument and Museum.


PDEEP Project Director Mark Adams in Lok Versa, Pakistan.

visittoFaisal Mosque_Trip3.jpg

PDEEP Project Director Mark Adams, Dr. Daud Khattak (AIOU ), Lecturer Minna Holopainen (SJSU), and Professor Jason Laker (AIOU) pictured in front of the Faisal Mosque, Islamabad.


PDEEP Project Director Mark Adams, PDEEP Contract Manager Atif Farooq (AIOU), Professor Jason Laker (SJSU), Lecturer Minna Holopainen (SJSU) and U.S. State Department’s Richard Boyum are pictured in front of a three story bookstore.


PDEEP Project Director Mark Adams, SJSU Professor Jason Laker, and SJSU Lecturer Minna Holopainen are pictured at Fatima Jinnah Women University, where presentations were delivered on COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) and Gender Studies issues.


AIOU Professor Moiz, SJSU Professor Mohammad Saleem, PDEEP Project Director Mark Adams, AIOU’s Ms. Shabnam, and SJSU Professor Jason Laker are pictured here at AIOU.


SJSU Lecturer Minna Holopainen helped hand out certificates to e-Tutor trainees along with AIOU’s Professor Daud. There were 50 e-tutors trained at this session; and Professor Daud and Professor Zahid had just come from training another 200 at four AIOU Regional Centers.


SJSU Professor Jason Laker helped hand out certificates as well.


Ten computer science student interns in telecommuting presented their progress on five projects.  One male and one female student were selected from each regional center, in Umerkot, D.G. Khan, Lahore, Rawalpindi, and Islamabad. Then they were presented with Certificates and $100 stipend pledges upon completion of this first internship project. Then the chair of CS Dr. Sangi and the Vice Chancellor of AIOU Dr. Siddiqui each spoke. This followed with tea and conversation  with the students. It was very inspiring to see the students–the start of promising careers! The next phase will have SJSU Professor Debra Caires guide them through agile software methods on another round of training them for telecommuting. This is a very risky, but very innovative project that if successful will be a potential “game changer” for poor students in remote areas.


Pictured above is SJSU Lecturer Minna Holopainen with State Department Representative Neal Murata. The SJSU faculty members met with State Department Representatives to share their ideas, accomplishments, challenges, and suggestions for future projects. It was also an opportunity to thank the State Department for funding the 3.5 year effort of PDEEP.



Pictured here is SJSU Professor Mohammad Saleem, Dr. Daud Khattak (AIOU), and PDEEP Project Director Mark Adams prior to a meeting of the AIOU and SJSU teams who reported on their work.


Pictured above are SJSU Professor Jason Laker, SJSU Lecturer Minna Holopainen, and PDEEP Project Director Mark Adams in the lobby of their hotel in Islamabad.


Congratulations AIOU : E-Tutor Training Conducted at Regional Campus in Peshawar, Pakistan


Congratulations to both Allama Iqbal Open Univeristy [AIOU] and San Jose State University [S.J.S.U] for collaborating and creating a great online tutor program for students all over the provinces. This program is self-paced and a multimedia e-tutor guide that was developed by diligent Professors from both universities. Dr. Mohammad Saleem [S.J.S.U], Dr. Daud Khattak [ AIOU] , and Zahid Majeed [AIOU] worked to help students gain new skills and techniques to encompass the versatility and benefits of an e-campus.






Pakistan’s Minister of IT, Anusha Rahman Khan, receives U.N.’s prestigious “GEM-TECH Global Achievers” Award for 2015


Congratulations to the Minister of State for IT, Mrs. Anusha Rahman Khan, the prestigious “GEM – TECH Global Achievers” award for 2015!

We hope that our initiatives within The Pakistan Distance Education Enhancement Program [PDEEP]  grant and Allama Iqbal Open University’s [AIOU] innovative student internship in telecommuting program demonstrate that we support all of your efforts.

Check out the article here


AIOU Students Speak out on Lecture Series with SJSU

In October with the help of web- based tools, San Jose State University  [S.J.S.U.]  and Allama Iqbal Open University [AIOU] held a three day lecture series.  Three AIOU students were asked about their experiences in participating in the lecture series and their responses can be seen below.

Ms. Salima Begum, PhD Scholar, Faculty of Education, AIOU.

1)    What does it mean to you to be able to speak with people in a different country about the areas you are studying? 

Education is an opportunity to explore experiences of people working in different countries. In the context of teaching and learning, interacting with education professionals across the globe is critical to learning from each other experiences, system and practices. Classroom assessment, particularly formative assessment is an emerging need of Pakistani classroom. As classroom teachers, teacher educator, I found that assessment in Pakistan is not aligned with teaching/learning process. Therefore, interacting with people of other countries is learning opportunity through sharing experiences and research. The sessions organized by Dr. Zahid Majeed in the collaboration with San Jose State University, USA were extremely important to learn and sharing experience of US scholars/experts. The session on “E-Assessment and Student Learning Outcomes” led by Professor Bobbi Makani and supported by Dr. Zahid Majeed was worth appreciating. I learnt different aspects of assessment with reference to e-learning and also using technology in assessing eLearning programs. One of the significant aspects of the session was use of rubric in assessment. The sessions also broaden my horizon and enabled me to think out of box to study different dimension of assessment and e-learning. The session conducted by Mark Adams was also eye opener for us as we were oriented about eCampus by the presenter.

2) In 2-4 sentences can you tell us about something that really impacted you positively that one of the SJSU faculty shared with you? 

There were many aspects of the session that were noteworthy learning opportunities, but the using rubric in assessment, eCampus and social inclusion were something new that contributed significantly in improving my understanding of eLearning. Using rubric in assessment both, formative and summative provide robust evidence of students learning and performance. The enthusiasm and commitment of Mark Adams, Minna Holopainen, Brockmann and Dr. Bobbi towards learning and acquiring new knowledge was inspiring for me and it helped me to devise my vision for my studies and my professional development. It was very fruitful to learn new learning strategies as a PhD scholar.

Mr. Muhammad Bashir, PhD Scholar, AIOU

1)      What does it mean to you to be able to speak with people in a different country about the areas you are studying? 

It means alot to me as its always great to hear from someone who is from other culture and academic background. The experience was great because it provided me an opportunity to hear a different perspective about eLearning. The online engagement with a foreign Professor has improved my understanding about eLearning. The interaction helped me to learn a different view point by a person who is not from our educational system. In this globalized world, it is very important to learn perspectives from multiple people and improve our worldview about different educational and professional issues. Overall, it was a great experience and it will help me my academics and professional duties.

2) In 2-4 sentences can you tell us about something that really impacted you positively that one of the SJSU faculty shared with you? 

Although all the lectures and interactions were very informative and useful but there were two major things that really impacted me positively:

  1.  The global perspective on eLearning helped me to improve my basic ideas about the eLearning. Now, I can see things in international perspective and my vision is broader as the result of my interaction with a SJSU faculty.
  2. Secondly, I saw the integration of technology in education, that was really impacted me at personal level. eAssessment, COIL, eCampus and Social inclusions really appreciable discussions and interactions with all the Professors.

Mr. Abd ul Qayyum, PhD Scholar, Faculty of Education, AIOU.

1) What does it mean to you to have to speak with people in a different country about the areas you are studying? 

It is always a learning experience while talking with people of different areas, cultures and religions. It provides an opportunity to make innovations in our existing knowledge.

2) In 2-4 sentences can you tell us about something that really impacted you positively that one of the SJSU faculty shared with you? 

It was life time opportunity to interact with SJSU professors. I have learnt a lot about eLearning. I learned alot from the thought provoking ideas of the SJSU faculty professors. Thank especially to Professor Zahid Majeed Sahib who made it possible.

Thanks to

Professor Mark Adams, Professor Bettina BrockMann, Professor ishan, Professor Bobbi Makani, Professor Mina, and professor Zahid Majeed for the precious lectures.






Sending our Love to our Friends on the anniversary of Peshawar Massacre

On behalf of everyone here at San Jose State University, I want to express our deepest condolences on the one year anniversary of the Peshawar Massacre, Dec.16th, 2014. May we remember each life lost, each with a special story. Our contribution is through the lens of education–and is dedicated to creating a world of peace and safety for children everywhere. We are sending all our wonderful Pakistani friends our love on this difficult day of remembrance. We stand with you. We cry with you. Your children are our children. –mark

Here is a link to 144 stories

San Jose State University and Allama Iqbal Open University Made Headlines with Computer Science Lecture Series

Check out the articles  below on  the  joint Computer Science  Workshop with Allama Iqbal Open University [AIOU] and San Jose State University [S.J.S.U.]

Third and Final Faculty Exchange



(Pictured above from left to right are Dr. Afshan Huma, Dr. Tanveer Afzal, Project Director Mark Adams, Professor Mohammad Saleem, and Dr. Nasir Mahmood. The final day of the faculty exchange included receive certificates for completing the three week program.)

The Pakistan Distance Education Enhancement Program is nearing the end and what a  wonderful journey it has been.

The third and final faculty exchange program ended on November 20, 2015 and  it was filled with hard work and excitement.   Below you will find pictures from this final faculty exchange where  San Jose State University [S.J.S.U] was fortunate enough to have  four wonderful faculty members  come from Allama Iqbal Open University [AIOU] in Islamabad Pakistan for three weeks.


Pictured above from left to right are Professor Mohammad Saleem, Sandee Adams, Dr. Nasir Mahmood, Dr. Afshan Huma, Dr. Tanveer Afzal, and Project Director Mark Adams.


Pictured is Dr. Nasir Mahmood with a San Jose State Student. As part of the three week workshop, the AIOU faculty members did numerous classroom visits.


From left to right, pictured above, are Dr. Afshan Huma, Dr. Tanveer Afzal, Dr. Nasir Mahmood, and Andrew Roderick. This picture was taken at San Francisco State University [S.F.S.U.] where the AIOU faculty attended a workshop given by Andrew Roderick.


Pictured above are Dr. Tanveer Afzal, Dr. Nasir Mahmood, and Dr. Afshan Huma speaking to a classroom of S.J.S.U students. This opportunity was provided by Professor Jason Laker for opening up his classroom to our faculty members and Project Director Mark Adams for arranging three weeks full of different workshops.  This was just one of many classroom visits that AIOU faculty were provided.


Pictured is Dr. Tanveer Afzal speaking with a small group of S.J.S.U. Students.


Pictured here are the AIOU faculty members attending a session with SJSU Accessible Education Center leaders Cindy Marota and Ryan Brady.


The third and final faculty exchange closed with a lunch celebration for the AIOU faculty members and as a way to celebrate the completion of the three week workshop. The lunch included great conversation, wonderful food, and outstanding company.

Final Faculty Exchange – Dr. Afshan Huma [AIOU]

The third and final Faculty Exchange  took place  over a three week span that started in October and ended in November. As the  Pakistan Distance Education Enhancement Program [PDEEP]  rapidly approaches its’ three year  deadline, the faculty exchange was a wonderful way to end our term. Below  Dr. Afshan Huma from Allama Iqbal Open University [AIOU] describes here experience in participating in the final faculty exchange and beautifully articulates her overall experience with PDEEP.

It was Oct 30th 2015 when we reached at San Jose. I already had a feeling that the upcoming three weeks would be another worthwhile learning experience for me, and indeed it was! I came with an  idea that this is going to be a three weeks’ workshop about online teaching, tutoring, course development and instructional design. But the schedule that our coordinator shared with us on the second day of our arrival made it clear to me that it is much more than what I was expecting it to be. On the first day of our visit we went to see Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco. The clouds float on this city and just above the bridge all day, which makes it look more like a fantasy world. There in the Crooked Street I felt that people here have some unique ideas. One cannot believe how a city is built on hills with such steep roads. And then designing one of these streets in such a fabulous way that it attracts all the tourists around. 

On the second day we had a walkabout, at the San Jose State University with our coordinator Mark Adams. He became a friend in no time. We visited a place called “Tech-shop” that made me realize what we need at our engineering universities in Pakistan to ensure that our extremely talented youth may be able to utilize their potentials. It is a place where the tech people studying or working anywhere can get enrolled themselves and try out their ideas by using the most expensive equipment that they cannot afford themselves. Thus it provides them a lab where they can run experiments and develop prototype. What an amazing facility for fresh graduates and students. I have had the experience of learning online as well as travelling to UK and US for my higher studies. I have been teaching in Pakistan for many years and always wanted my students to have some kind of exposure with the teaching and learning communities around the world. The Collaborative Online Intercultural Learning is one of the best elements of PDEEP which makes my dream come true. This will be a wonderful experience  for the students sitting in Pakistan to collaborate and interact with the faculty and students at SJSU. Instead of going on into the details of each workshop I would like to describe the take-aways for me. First and foremost was the discussion with professor Debbie Faires about the quality indicators of online courses and managing online classrooms. It was a detailed discussion that demystified many of the blur perceptions I had and removed my fears as well. In the discussions with Prof. Rick Kepple I enjoyed the way he involved all of us and made us re-think our own practices with the lens of “innovation” and “entrepreneurship”. We keep doing experimentation within our own classrooms but never think of many of the impossibilities to turn into possibilities as we move on. We sometimes end up in such working environment that we tend to stop experimenting and feel ok with all that is going on. In such circumstances a dialogue with our self is necessary to recollect the energy and deconstruct our own practices and perspectives.  Prof. Rick helped us do it very nicely. Professor Bettina’s workshop on Social Inclusion for the persons with disabilities was another thought provoking conversation. She had designed such activities that we could closely look at our own education system in connection with the societal attitudes and behaviors towards people with disabilities. We were able to think further and chart down some strategies for including special children in mainstream schools instead of separate special schools. Accessibility center at San Jose is undoubtedly a state of the art provision for all students with special  needs. A  detailed demo and conversation helped us understand the philosophy of inclusion and accessibility more explicitly. Professor Saleem is a Pakistani faculty member who remained a big support n help since we landed until we departed. We could see his teaching in his classroom. Two more faculty members also provided this chance. It was interesting to learn about various pedagogical modes of classrooms. Prof Saleem also shared his work for online student support.
Expandibility and CommUniverCity, are two amazing examples of university and community linkage. The visit and meetings at both places helped us learn more innovative ways to engage students in more and more community services as well as paving their way towards a successful professional life ahead. Visits and tours to Polycom, Google, and San Francisco State University, enabled us to identify more and more resources of how to utilize the latest available technological support to help our distant learners.  The founder of Policom sits in a small cabin among hundreds of other employees. Having all the facilities available within the building, the employees do not need to worry about the outer world once they are in here. The best innovation they recently did in conference phones is acoustic fence. The phone recognizes the voices of people around the table and then creates an acoustic fence out of which no noise will be captured by the phone. Last but not the least we visited Google headquarters.Google has a whole campus where the employees, called “googlers”, it is a campus life in its own way, they have a wholesome life at their workplace. They eat for free all day and have all facilities including even gym and showers available to spend 24 hours on campus. They have their own time schedules and they work to perform. The campus has google bikes which are free to ride. Anyone can take one bike and rides from one building to another. The four color bikes add more to the color of the campus.  
Now I know why this region is so proudly named as “silicon valley”; it is actually an amazing place which nourishes intellect and innovation. People here keep talking about novel ideas and they know they have the right place to coin the ideas. The classrooms and labs are called incubators where they provide the most suitable environment to let the pre-mature ideas grow into an innovation/invention. Here every university introduces itself by the eminent faculty and alumni. Especially Stanford and Berkeley campuses have the faculty members who have given this world remarkable discoveries. Only Berkley and Stanford alone have around fifty Nobel laureates. These people are the pride of these universities. They are the VIPs. They only take pride in their achievements. San Jose is known for the tech industry. The tech museum exhibits all the marvels done by the people of silicon valley such as Google earth to eyesight glasses filled with water. When you go around the streets and roads of san Jose u cannot miss the huge buildings of all the famous IT companies including Intel, Dell, Adobe Motorola Yahoo and Google. I must say these people exactly know and believe in facilitating individuals to the limit where they only need to worry about work and nothing else, hence they also take pride in their achievements only .

Faculty Exchange – AIOU comes to SJSU


(Pictured above are Project Director, Mark Adams, Dr. Afshan Huma, Dr. Nasir Mahmood, Team Lead, UC QA and Audio Group for Polycom Shaheen Fareed, and Dr. Muhammad Tanveer Afzal at Polycom).

 On November 20th, the Pakistani visitors from Allama Iqbal Open University [AIOU ] will be leaving to return back to Islamabad, Pakistan. During the duration of their stay, the visitors’ activities included participating in workshops given by San Jose State University [S.J.S.U] faculty members, visiting classrooms, and meeting with State Department Partnerships Coordinator,  Richard Boyum.

While many days were filled with attending workshops, the visitors also were given the opportunity to see many landmark sites which included a visit to the beach in Santa Cruz, California and a stop at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Check out the pictures  below captured from  both workshops and their visit at these landmark areas.


Dr. Muhammad Tanveer Afzal is pictured at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, located in Santa Cruz California. The Boardwalk includes a rides, stores, and entertainment such as the statue seen being photographed with Dr. Afzal.


Pictured here is Dr. Muhammad Tanveer Afzal, Dr. Nasir Mahmood, Dr. Afshan Huma, Professor Mohammad Saleem, and Shaheen Fareed at Polycom.


Dr. Nasir Mahmood is pictured at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, located in Santa Cruz California. The Boardwalk includes a rides, stores, and entertainment such as the statue seen being photographed with Dr. Mahmood.


 Dr. Muhammad Tanveer Afzal, Dr. Afshan Huma, and Dr. Nasir Mahmood at Google Headquarters, in Mountain View, CA are pictured above.


Pictured above is Jyotsna Kaki and Dr. Nasir Mahmood at Google Headquarters.


Pictured above is Professor Rick Kepple discussing innovation in education with AIOU faculty.


Pictured above are Dr. Nasir Mahmood and Dr. Muhammad Tanveer Afzal overlooking the ocean in Santa Cruz, California.

AIOU Visitor Welcome Lunch Receives Academic Spotlight

On November 6th, The Pakistan Distance Education Enhancement Program [PDEEP] held a welcome lunch for the four Allama Iqbal Open Univerisity visitors that participated in the October faculty exchange with San Jose State University [S.J.S.U]. The welcome lunch included a number of wonderful guests including Melissa Anderson. Anderson is the  Executive Communication Specialist, University Advancement, Marketing and Communications for S.J.S.U.

PDEEP Project Director, Mark Adams,  was contacted by Anderson about her desire to create a post for the October Academic Affairs newsletter that focused on the staff professional development grant program and wanted to spotlight PDEEP.

The link to PDEEP’s academic spotlight is listed below.  PDEEP is very grateful to Anderson for taking the time to attend the welcome lunch and capture the genuine initiative of PDEEP.

S.J.S.U Welcomes Third Faculty Exchange with Visiting Professors from Allama Iqbal Open University in Pakistan


On October 30, 2015, San Jose State University [SJSU] welcomed their third faculty exchange with Professors from Allama Iqbal Open University [AIOU]   in Pakistan . (Pictured above is Dr. Afhsan Huma,  Dr. Nasir Mahmood, Dr. Tanveer Afzal, and Ms. Shabnam Shahid first arriving to San Francisco California in the United States).


(Pictured above is Richard Boyum, University Partnerships Coordinator – Afghanistan/Pakistan, and Ms. Shabnam Shahid in one of the many workshops planned for the visitors)

Since their arrival  from our partner university they have been working diligently to participate in workshops, class visits, and cultural events centered around accomplishing the goals of the Pakistan Distance Education Enhancement Program  [PDEEP] grant– increasing distance education capacity for AIOU’s 1.3 million students, mainly women, throughout the provinces of Pakistan.


(Pictured above is our visiting faculty members along with SJSU Professor Minna Holopainen and Debbie Faires in front of the International House)

The most recent endeavor included a welcome lunch that was held at the S.J.S.U’s International House. The S.J.S.U International House is a co-ed residence that houses 70 US and International students.


(Pictured above is Project Director, Mark Adams speaking about the last three years of the grant)


(Pictured above is Ruth Huard, Dean of the College of International and Extended Studies,  Minna Holopainen,Lecturer Communication Studies, and Bobbi Makani, Sr. Director, Collaboration and Academic Technology Integration)

On Friday November 6th, the welcome lunch was held in the dining room located in the International House residence. The event included a vegan lunch, Pakistani music, speeches from all visiting faculty members, and from various S.J.S.U faculty as well. Overall the event was successful in that it had about 25-30 attendees from various areas of S.J.S.U as a way to welcome AIOU faculty and was a great format to discuss what the grant has accomplished as it nears it’s three year deadline.

 The welcome lunch included catering selections from
Pomegranate Café, in San Jose, CA.


S.J.S.U Students from the Pakistani Student
Association  presented a welcome poster
as a gift for AIOU faculty.
IMG_0022 (1)





AIOU Opens e-learning Centre for Visually Impaired


Congratulations Allama Iqbal Open University!

In Islamabad Pakistan, at Allama Iqbal Open University[AIOU], an e-learning accessibility centre for visually-impaired has been opened for students inside the university as well as those who do not attend AIOU. Below is a link to the article with full details about this wonderful event and the opportunities it has for students with disabilities.

“Accessibility is always my question to AIOU and other organizations wherever I am going. Thanks to AIOU that they answered my question and that was answered in all manners. I am proud to be AIOU student that I am studying at accessible oriented university. I can move in each and every department and office of the university as there are ramps every where and elevator helped me to access each floor of academic complex. The central library services which were not accessible for us now in our access we can access all the academic  resources available for others. I was worried about my research work  due to accessibility but now I can access and do my M.Phil in a better way. Thanks AIOU”.
(Ms. Shagufta Khanum, AIOU)


“I am employee as telephone operator in AIOU from October 2007. I completed my B.Ed and MA Special Education from AIOU. I remember my requests to AIOU for such services and support and this is happened in Accessibility Center. this center is well equipped center with a very conducive academic environment. The library and department of special education staff is very cooperative with us and helping us in all matters. Dr. Shahid Siddiqui, Vice Chancellor personal interest in establishing this center is really appreciable. My office is just adjacent to this center so many times I heard Vice Chancellor and Dr. Zahid Majeed voices and discussion on progress of the center. I hope this center will be open not for AIOU studnets but for the special need community at large. Thanks AIOU ”
( Mr. Shafqat Ali, AIOU)


“I am students of M.Phil Special Education and did MA from the same university. I am glad to be in Accessibility Center which is first initiative in any public sector university of Pakistan. The center is well equipped with assistive technology and software needed for our studies and especially for research work. Now we can access online material for our thesis and assignments. I hope the center will be upgraded with all related services and equipment. Thanks to Vice Chancellor, Department of Special Education and Central Library”.
(Mr. Zakir Hussain, AIOU)

SJSU Faculty Gave Four Day Lecture Series for AIOU


October has been filled with lots of accomplishments for the Pakistan Distance Education Enhancement Program [PDEEP] including a week lecture series given by San Jose State University [ SJSU ] faculty through the web-based tool Skype. The lecture series lasted four days and were given to students at  Allama Iqbal Open University [AIOU].

The list of speakers included Pakistan Distance Education Enhancement Program [PDEEP] Project Director, Mark Adams, SJSU Lecturer Minna Holopainen, SJSU Professor Bettina Brockmann, and SJSU Sr. Director, Collaboration and Academic Technology Integration Bobbi Makani.

PDEEP Administrative Coordinator, Amethyst Aguilar, interviewed the speakers about their individual talks and their experiences  and their responses can be found below. 


 “The eight guiding principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by Pakistan in 2011, focus on respect and equality—principles that should guide all conversations. Talking about the concepts of inclusion and eLearning in an intercultural online environment show that despite long distances and cultural differences, there is always the potential to create something meaningful together”.
 (Professor Brockmann, SJSU)

Professor Brockmann noted the following when discussing inclusion and  her talk with AIOU students, “Inclusion of students with disabilities is a relatively new concept at AIOU. There is some uncertainty about how to provide an inclusive academic environment for all students. The workshop of social inclusion of students with disabilities focused on the benefits of eLearning and technology and the potential to create an inclusive environment that provides each student with the opportunity to work toward her or his individual potential”. Brockmann discussion with AIOU students “highlighted how the classroom environment often seems limited to challenge each student on an individual level. There is often the fear that inclusion means that some students are held back. The goal of the workshop was to help students understand that social inclusion strategies in combination with eLearning provide an environment that is beneficial for ALL students. This environment does not only provide the opportunity to foster academic but also social skills. Learning about the challenges and successes of inclusion of students with disabilities in Pakistan result in a collaborative approach to evaluate current strategies and create new ones together”.


“Assessment of student learning demonstrates that the institution’s students possess the knowledge, skills, and competencies consistent with institutional and program goals, and that graduates are equipped with necessary skills to help make them responsible and productive citizens in the society”.
(Professor Makani, SJSU)

PDEEP Program Coordinator, asked Makani about her how working with Students at AIOU is important, and what her talk would center around. Makani responded with  “working with the students at AIOU is important because of the possible impact they could have in their community. The students are going to shape the landscape of education in Pakistan for the future and it is important that they learn about what needs to be in place. The talk is focused on assessment of student learning outcomes. This is important because instructors need to know what students need to learn and then to determine IF they are learning. Without assessment, it is extremely difficult to evaluate teaching effectiveness. Teaching is NOT learning and what students learn can only be gauged through and effective assessment process. It requires commitment from university administrators or leads, resource allocation and most importantly, professional development for faculty”.


“This is an invitation for all AIOU and SJSU faculty to explore opportunities for COIL; I believe that everyone has something to share with and something to learn from others”.
(Professor Holopainen, SJSU) 

PDEEP Administrative Coordinator, Amethyst Aguilar, asked Professor Holopainen about the importance of speaking with AIOU students to which she responded with, “for very selfish reasons: interacting with AIOU students builds my own intercultural communication skills. Each time I visit AIOU online, I learn something new. An example of the thing I reflected after this lecture was something I said, “seeing people face-to-face,” which of course sounds a bit odd when you are meeting people who might cover their heads. I also try to find ways to both show respect and question gender roles in AIOU classrooms. For example, it is usually men who answer questions first. I will need to remember to invite comments also from women. I think that we in the West have a lot to learn about how Pakistanis construct gender. It interests me a lot.

Holopainen also discussed the focus of her talk given to AIOU, to which she responded with that   “this is actually what we started the session with: a discussion about the importance of Collaborative Online Intercultural Learning for our students. In a nutshell, our students need skills to work in intercultural online environments in today’s global marketplace. The rest of our time we spent on discussing the two key skill sets our students need-(1) intercultural communication skills, and (2) skills for working in international online teams- and COIL reviewing AIOU-SJSU COIL projects from Spring 2015 for some ideas on how to participate. This is an invitation to AIOU’s PhD scholars to participate in COIL”. 

The talk series and the feedback from each speaker’s experience was overwhelmingly positive and they look forward to more opportunities like such to speak with AIOU students. 

SJSU Faculty Lecture Series for AIOU Students

In October, SJSU faculty teamed up with Allama Iqbal Open University [AIOU] in Islamabad Pakistan, to provide a lecture series through the web-based tool, Skype. The list  of speakers included, Pakistan Distance Education Enhancement Program [PDEEP] Project Director, Mark Adams, Lecturer Minna Holopainen, Professor Bettina Brockmann, and Sr. Director, Collaboration and Academic Technology Integration Bobbi Makani.

Check out the links below to the promotion of this lecture series.

Collaborative Online Intercultural Learning (COIL) at SJSU Expo

On October 1st and 2nd, San Jose State University (SJSU) held an Expo geared toward Innovation and Collaboration for Teaching and Learning.  Amethyst Aguilar, the Pakistan Distance Education Enhancement Program (PDEEP) Administrative Coordinator, showcased COIL in an effort to publicize its accomplishments and recruit more faculty members. Aguilar discussed how COIL is a teaching and learning activity that promotes the development of intercultural competence and web-based skills across shared, multicultural learning environments. COIL works by using internet-based tools (web conferencing and LMS) to link a SJSU class with another class abroad. Courses are taught by educators who collaborate to develop a shared unit or activity that is enriched by connecting with students from another country.

Professor Minna Holopainen also had an hour long session in which she discussed the impacts of COIL and its benefits such as ” (1) experiential, intercultural learning, (2) deeper understanding of oneself and others in a globalizing world, (3) broader disciplinary and interdisciplinary learning, (4) online (team)working skills, (5) intercultural communication skills, [and] (6) global networks for academics and professionals”.

While the event was successful in the number of people who signed up to learn more about COIL and potentially participate in a COIL activity, it was also successful in promoting the vision of COIL. This vision was put best by  Professor Holopainen when describing the effects of COIL and working with Allama Iqbal Open University,  “when you don’t know anyone from a certain group of people, you have to lean on stereotypes. These stereotypes are challenged and modified when you meet and learn about individuals from this group”.  

Pictured below is the COIL display which included sign up sheets, flyers, and a looped video that remained up for the entirety of the event. Also pictured is Administrative Coordinator, Amethyst Aguilar speaking with students and staff about COIL.

Amethyst at Innovation & Tech Expo 100115image2