Set apart from the mainland, the Hawaiian Islands have struggled to obtain high-speed broadband connections that are comparable to the rest of the U.S. However, because the Islands pose geographical limitations to Hawaiian citizens, online schools in Hawaii are taking on new importance, and are developing new approaches, in the quest to provide quality education for students.
Higher Learning Initiatives
In 2012, the University of Hawaii System upgraded its videoconferencing technology for HD-production across all of its campuses. These upgrades were designed specifically to serve distance learners, some of whom study remotely from different islands in the state. Hawaii has long been a promoter of teleconferencing, and this HD equipment will also be used in cable programming, as the university continues to broadcast from its statewide public access channel. This initiative promises to enhance distance learning through advanced technology.
The Hawaii Virtual Learning Network
Created by the Hawaii Online Task Force, HVLN works to provide supplemental courses for Hawaii’s existing public school system. The main goal of the HVLN is to expand and systemize online courses. The program offers an e-school for K-12 students in Hawaii. The organization also provides a technology training course for teachers called “Project Inspire” in addition to library services. The HVLN is the hub for the state’s future standards in distance education, and it is currently working to aid students and teachers in the transition to a more technology-driven educational field.
Hawaii Broadband Assistance Advisory Council
The Hawaiian Broadband Assistance Advisory Council was formed in 2007 to remove barriers to broadband access across the state. However, a 2009 study placed Hawaii No. 49 in the nation in terms of broadband connection. Coinciding with Hawaii’s slow Internet connection were figures that depicted an education system that habitually produced less-than-average students. State leaders have made the connection between broadband speed and learning opportunities. In an attempt to diversify their tourist-driven economy, Hawaiian leaders are beginning to focus on education as the key factor in developing a more dynamic workforce. The council is still active and is working to offer high-speed broadband access to the entire state in upcoming years.