Bridging Large Distances in “Distance Learning”

Bridging Large Distances in “Distance Learning”

“We take this traditional learning and we’re trying to document it in the digital world.” – Pilimai Traub

Over 30 miles from the nearest town, 5 miles away from their mailboxes, and down a road of twists and turns, lies the small village of Miloliʻi.

Known as the “last fishing village in Hawaiʻi,” Miloliʻi has retained the ʻike of generations in isolation on the southwest corner of Hawaiʻi Island.  Although rich with this ʻike, the community was facing a modern-day crisis.

“Just the statistics of the haumāna here, that about sixty percent that we we understood of the children were not graduating from high school. And so while we were a great distance apart on the other side of the island, we felt a great urgency to be able to respond to the need of this really beautiful community of Miloliʻi.”

Susan Osborne understands the challenges facing the Miloliʻi community.  She is the Founder of Kua o ka lā, a Hawaiian cultural charter school in a fishing village located in Puna, Hawaiʻi.

“Upon consideration and discussion of what they were wanting to do down here and being a Hawaiian cultural school, and being a fishing village and wanting to ensure that that they retain their cultural practices and their place. That was very mission-aligned to Kua o ka Lā.”

Miloliʻi is part of Kua o ka Lā’s Hīpuʻu program.  Hīpuʻu refers to the knots in a fishing net.  Like the fishing net, Miloliʻi is “tied” to a network of 18 other charter schools partnering with Kamehameha Schools to improve education in rural areas, many of which have a strong cultural tie.

“I think the significant part of these relationships and collaborations with the charter schools is that they are spread out in many communities, isolated such as Miloliʻi and in other areas that Kamehameha may not be able to reach,” says Waiʻaleʻale Sarsona, Director of Kamehameha Schools’ Hoʻolako Like Department. “But those partners have the flexibility and the partnerships and the resources beyond KS to support that growth into communities.”

The schools are growing thanks to digital technology.  Computer, satellite and solar technology is helping students to bridge the large distances in “distance learning”

“All kids were given a MacBook Air, they all have their own Gmail account, through the school, the content is kind of spelled out online. We use the platform called Odysseyware to do the core curriculum, the math, the science, social studies and English,” says Pilimai Traub, a highly qualified teacher at the Miloliʻi Hīpuʻu Site. “The ʻŌpelu Project is an example of how this fishing community is using new educational processes to blend digital age academics and technology with cultural learning.

“We take this traditional learning and we’re trying to document it in the digital world. So when we do have our ʻōpelu presentations, the kids- you know, we have GoPros, the kids document it themselves, they upload it. They have the opportunity to use this blended type of learning to learn from their resources around them yet have the 21st century skills in front of them too to be 21st century learners.”

“This is such a great investment in education, out of the box, using the best of technology to make it happen while still allowing the families and the students in this community to maintain who they are as natives to Miloliʻi. It’s amazing. I don’t think we can do this anyplace else,” says Waiʻaleʻale.

He luelue ka ʻupena e kuʻu ai. As the ʻōlelo noʻeau explains, the fine-meshed net is the one to use at sea as it misses nothing, big or small.

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