Islamia University of Bahawalpur
Virtual education is a distance mode of education which imparts education through synchronous and asynchronous types of educational technologies. It aims to provide equal educational opportunities to large number of learners beyond the gender biasness, geographical boundaries and cultural issues. It is cost effective, learner centered, activity based and flexible education system. It also provides educational opportunities to in service people, physically defected and persons bound to live in boundaries. Virtual education facilitates people to continue their education with ease and comfort without disturbing their normal routine responsibilities. Virtual learners can attend their teaching learning activities according to their own pace, time and schedule. With the advancement, application and vide acceptance of modern educational technologies virtual education is getting popularity day by day. In Pakistan first virtual education university was established in 2002 with clear mission “not for profit”. It is a federal charted university which has established 27 its own campuses and has affiliated 137 private virtual campuses in short spell of time. More than 100000 virtual learners have been enrolled in this university up to 2015. The present study was conducted with the main objectives (i) to study the framework of virtual education model, (ii) to highlight the instructional paradigms of virtual education, (iii) to identify the significance of virtual education in Pakistan, (iv) to evaluate the components of virtual education model in Pakistan, (v) to explore the challenges faced by virtual students in Pakistan, and (vi) to recommend measures for improving virtual education model in Pakistan. The population of the study consisted of faculty members and the virtual learners of the MBA program of the virtual university of Pakistan. The convenient sampling technique was adopted for study. The total sample of the study was (451) consisted of one hundred (100) faculty members, three hundred and fifty one (351) virtual learners. The study was descriptive in nature therefore survey approach was considered appropriate and adopted for its completion. Two (02) questionnaires on five points rating (likert) scale were prepared. Research tools were finalized after their pilot testing with the calculated reliability of the research instruments. The samples could only be found virtually therefore research tools were converted into google.doc to collect data. Collected data was coded in SPSS version 20 and was statistically analyzed by using percentage, mean score and standard deviation. Form the data analysis it was found that virtual education was an effective mode of education in Pakistan. The study also concluded that virtual education model of Pakistan was providing quality education based upon the parameters of learner centeredness, cost effectiveness, activity based, need based and meeting international standards of education. Therefore, the study also recommended some suggestions to improve the virtual education model. Some other public and private sector universities should also start virtual education in Pakistan to endorse quality education. Teacher student interaction should be made more cohesive. Private virtual campuses should ensure accountability and accreditation. Co-curricular activities should also be given proper weightage in virtual education.