Textbooks for Virtual University of Pakistan / OER for International Understanding

May 22, 2010, [MD]

I am currently listening to the Introduction to Sociology course from the Virtual University of Pakistan, whose video lectures I described in a previous post. The course is taught by Dr. Muhammad Anwar, and curious to find some information about him, I googled his name. I came across this discussion about his course, where former students are praising him highly. Tauqir Mehmood Wattoo said:

i have to tell my forum fellows just one thing that i have been a student of dr anwar. he is an authority in sociology and specially in social research.

those choosing sociology must go through these lectures.

Raz replies:

I second your opinion. I didn’t know about Dr. Anwar’s expertise over sociology. It was my good luck that I gave a try to VU lectures and these lectures proved very helpful. After going through Dr. Anwar’s lectures I strongly believe in the comments which Tauqir Mehmood Wattoo has passed for him. This was purely my good luck that I got these lectures without knowing him.

I placed an ordered with VU for lecture notes and CDs on Sociology, Mass Communication, Pakistan Affairs, and Islamiat. Due to shortage of time I could best utilize only sociology and Pakistan study lectures and had a quick review of Islamiat. I utilized Mass Communication CDs and lectures back in 2008 but for 2009 attempt I was running short of time so I could revise only selective topics in a period of two days. Few of these topics were like, Public Relations, Advertisement, Journalism history, and Ethical standards.

Most of the sociology MCQs in 2009 were covered from these lectures. While attempting sociology paper I was of the view that paper has either been set by Dr. Muhammad Anwar or by a person whose approach is similar to that of Dr. Muhammad Anwar. His lectures enrich us with best terminology in sociology which is an added advantage while attempting the paper.

I purchased following two lecture notes on sociology:

​1) Introduction to Sociology (SOC 101) By Dr. Muhammad Anwar 2) Research Methods (STA 630) By Dr. Muhammad Anwar

Though research methods lecture Notes by Dr. Muhammad Anwar were very useful but I attempted Research Steps question (2009) from Shahnaz Arifullah and K. M Bhatti’s book (Research Process Simplified) in combination with Roger D. Wimmer and Joseph R. Dominick’s book ( Mass Media Research). This combination made my answer very effective.

Two main benefits of VU lectures: 1) To the point and time saving 2) Standard language (Most suitable terminology), Standard approach, generally acceptable stance, free from biasness, and nearly official stance on major issues. (The most beneficial for us to save ourselves from any risk).

Further down, I found out that the textbooks for this class (and all other classes) are available as well!

Assalam-o-allaikum Brother Khoso

The complete VU Library of lectures and Handouts is available at the following link http://vulms.vu.edu.pk/Library/library.aspx


I went to that site, and indeed found a 120 page book in English for the Introduction to Sociology Course, and many other courses had both textbooks and PowerPoint slides. I was thinking about extracting all these links, and inserting them into my index, however the interface does not offer any simple way of extracting all the links.

The above postings are from the site CSSForum: Civil Service of Pakistan, a very active forum where users help each other prepare for the civil service exams. They have forums for all the obligatory subjects, and in the sociology section you can find interesting posts like Great Muslim Scientists and their Contributions to the Field of Sociology, discussion of Marxist theory of labor, or a question about the contributions of Ibn-e-Khaldun to the field of sociology. I found it very interesting how the students were actively helping each other prepare for these different exams, and selflessly sharing resources and experiences.

I also found it very interesting to see past exam papers, for example the 2010 bilingual exam on Islamic issues. Students have to give written answers to questions such as "Keeping in view today's International Political System, can Shariah be adjusted in the Islamic Societies", and "Keeping in view the requirements of Global Society, determine the freedom and limitations of a Muslim Woman in the light of Islamic teachings". It would be very interesting to see samples of how the future government bureaucrats of Pakistan answered these questions! There is also a section called "Everyday Science", which is wonderfully eclectic. Here is a small selection:

Question # 02 : Write short note on the following by giving their exact life span and contributions to the field of science. ( Accurate fact will be appreciated) (10)

​a) Al- Beruni b) Ibn- al - Haitham

Question # 03: What do you know about hereditary disease ? Comment how they are transferred from parents to offsprings ? (10)

Question # 04:Write briefly any five of the following: (Answer in three or four sentences) (10)

​a) Plaster of Paris b) Reflex Action c) Pace Maker d) Swine flue e) Microwave oven f) Internet g) Voltage Stabilizer

Question # 05: A) What is global warming ? Is there any a sunny side to global warming ? If yes , explain. (5) B) What makes the seasons happen ? (5)

Question # 06: In which region of the world , the following animals are found? Give two main characteristics of each. (10)

​a) Blind dolphin b) Kangaroo c) panda d) Kiwi e) Penguin

Question # 07: A) In which organ these parts are present in animals or human body ? (5) B) Describe the function of each briefly : (5)

  1. Coronary artery
  2. Sino- Auricular Node
  3. Aortic valve
  4. Auricle

Question # 08: Differentiate between the following pairs:

​a) Hydrometer and Hygrometer b) Perimeter and Telemeter c) Isotopes and Isomers d) Flying mammal and Bird e) Vertebrates and Invertebrates

Question # 09: A) What are pesticides? Explain how these are dangerous to human beings? B) What do the following scientific abbreviations stand for?

​1) STP 2) LORAN 3) SONAR 4) MAF 5) MeV 6) MASER 7) AWACS 8) CCTV

I wonder how the average American civil servant would have done on this exam.

I think formal and informal OER can have a huge positive impact on international understanding, and to me, this is a prime example of what Mike Caulfield called OER as transparency.


Stian Håklev May 22, 2010 Toronto, Canada
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