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From left, Helen Torigoe, Jamie Sickel and Youxin Zhang

Instructional designers at Kapiʻolani Community College have won a top award from Campus Technology. The Teaching Online Preparation Program (TOPP) was recently recognized with a 2019 Campus Technology Impact Award. Campus Technology is one of higher education’s premier information resources for campus professionals. The Kapiʻolani CC team won the Teaching and Learning Award.

The team was comprised of instructional designers Helen Torigoe, Youxin Zhang and Jamie Sickel, who brainstormed, did intensive research, interviewed faculty, examined curricula, experimented with cutting-edge technology systems and took an in-depth look at how their efforts would allow faculty to succeed before online audiences.

“Our goal is to offer balanced training in technology, pedagogy and facilitation skills in the online environment,” Torigoe said. “Faculty participants experience being an online student while creating their own online or hybrid course with guidance from the instructional designers.”

TOPP was a response to online students expressing frustration over the lack of consistency in design, navigation, interaction and use of technology across classes. The program allows faculty participants to experience, empathize with and become an online student while creating their own online or hybrid course.

“Through the creation of TOPP, Helen Torigoe and her team have proven that when the teacher is the learner, the students’ learning experience is enhanced,” said Chancellor Louise Pagotto. “I applaud not just the empathy of a teacher for students, but also the promise of inclusivity in how we teach and prepare our students for the future.”

Since starting in summer of 2016, TOPP has trained more than 75 faculty members. They include seasoned tenured faculty, new tenure-track faculty and lecturers across disciplines at Kapiʻolani CC as well as other campuses in the community college system. Distance education has grown with more trained faculty. In fall 2015, 36.9 percent of Kapiʻolani students took distance education classes. By spring 2019, 45.5 percent of students registered for distance education.

Participants in the eight-week professional development program (or six-week summer program) learn, practice and build a sound and balanced training program. Faculty enrolled in TOPP also earn teaching credits or equivalences.

—By Louise Yamamoto

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