Even before the decision was made to teach classes online in early March, the University of Hawaiʻi’s Information Technology Services – UH Online Innovation Center (UHOIC), had a program to help faculty transition their courses online.

UHOIC, with support from the College of Education, then launched the Teaching Online During an Emergency website to help faculty prepare. Online instruction commences on March 23.

Faculty have been diving in and working hard to shift to the new paradigm. UHOIC has been providing a range of resources to help faculty transition, including a checklist with resources, online mini-lessons, online office hours, and one to one consultation.

UH Associate Vice President for Students and Director of Academic Technology Services Hae Okimoto said about a third of UH faculty statewide were already utilizing distance education methods before the current health crisis, although the rates varied across the 10 campuses.

Person at a computer

“What is really impressive to me are faculty who have used technology before saying, ‘Hey, Iʻll help. Do you want me to help my peers and my colleagues?’” Okimoto said.

Systemwide collaboration has been key. UH Mānoa College of Education’s Technology and Distance Programs shared their resources and expertise. Leeward Community College instructional designers collaborated to develop a remote instruction template. Instructional designers on all campuses have been collaborating in teaching online lessons and support for their faculty.

UH’s instructional design programs are nationally recognized. The UHOIC received the Effective Practice Award for Innovate 2020 from the International Online Learning Consortium.

National leader Kapiʻolani CC

Laudable work was already being done at Kapiʻolani CC, where the Teaching Online Preparation Program (TOPP) has received two national awards over the last year. The Kapiʻolani CC Distance Education Team is also this year’s UH nominee for the Governor’s Award for Team Excellence Award of Merit. Instructional Designer and TOPP team member Jamie Sickel said the TOPP program has already graduated 93 faculty members.

“(Faculty) have proven to be an amazing resource during this time of uncertainty,” Sickel said.

The Kapiʻolani CC distance education team quickly put out a call for volunteers, arranged spaces (both physical and virtual), and communicated to the campus that they were all-hands-on-deck to support their colleagues in the shift to remote learning. Volunteers answering that call contributed copious resources, necessitating the creation of a public bulletin board via Padlet just to give them an outlet to share.

“…it is heartwarming to see our faculty, instructional designers and staff pulling together, working long hours, to insure the best education so that our students can complete this semester.” —Hae Okimoto

The campus is also offering Teaching and Learning Contingency support sessions, either via Zoom or face-to-face. Online faculty have assisted in the development of campus faculty, counselor/support staff, and student resources and have volunteered their contact information to be circulated as a list of mentors/helpers for less experienced colleagues.

Sickel said Kapiʻolani CC faculty have been “amazing.” Lecturers who are not currently teaching this semester but had previously taught hybrid and online courses have jumped in to help. An online faculty member has been creating Laulima (UH’s online learning and collaboration system) lessons and importing them into the class sites of colleagues who teach the same course, in order to help those who might otherwise be left in the lurch.

Okimoto said, “These are extraordinary times and it is heartwarming to see our faculty, instructional designers and staff pulling together, working long hours, to insure the best education so that our students can complete this semester.”

—By Kelli Trifonovitch