Sponsored by Hawaii Pacific University
One big way the COVID-19 pandemic changed lives for millions was the sudden shift of school, at all levels, to online teaching and learning. Here in Hawaii, one university took the transition in stride. Hawai’i Pacific University was already rated as the Best Online University in the state, and one of the best in the country.
“We took two days to let our faculty gather what they needed, our students to prepare to work from their dorm rooms and wherever else they call home, and we were then off and running,” explains HPU President John Gotanda. “We have offered online courses and many complete degree programs entirely online, so the expertise, the technology, and the rest of the support structures are all in place.”
Gotanda says there are aspects about online learning that some students find more challenging.
“While we’ve always had smaller class sizes at HPU, a student in an online class tends to be more visible, and their writing and other contributions to the class are more readily exposed,” he explains. “And the asynchronous aspects of many classes meant adjusting schedules and really staying on top of the work.”
On the other hand, he says the faculty at HPU are really good at sensing what students need to succeed.
“We focus on the student and on teaching and most classes saw our faculty adjust their assignments in ways that took advantage of being online and that helped our students learn,” he says.
Gotanda says HPU will continue classes online through the summer, just to be safe, and he hopes everyone will be back in person in the fall.
“Even during these temporary changes that the pandemic has brought us, we’ve had terrific interest in HPU for fall,” he says. “We held a series of online admissions events and had more participants from here in Hawaii, across the nation, and internally than we do when we are in-person.”