Program Connects Hawaiians with Technology

`Ohana encouraged to use student-awarded laptops. 

Nearly 60 MCC students on Molokai will receive Apple laptops to take home and share with their `ohana.

By Jennifer Smith

Maui Community College (MCC) students are taking a step into the technology age after receiving laptops from Project OHANA. About 100 laptops will be distributed in rural communities in Maui County, and nearly 60 will be placed in the homes of students on Molokai.

The first set of laptops was distributed during a ceremony held last week Tuesday at the Molokai Education Center (MEC). MCC Chancellor Clyde Sakamoto and Special Projects Coordinator Janet Six attended the event hosted by MEC representatives Donna Haytko-Paoa and Kelley Dudoit.  

“We are very interested in Molokai’s future,” said Sakamoto before beginning a short presentation on the rapid growth of technology. He said it was particularly important for MCC to find a way to bring the technology to the students because “we are all part of this cyber age.”

“From Molokai, genius can be uncovered-that’s what we are all about-uncovering it.” 
 
Through Project OHANA, students are allotted an Apple laptop to take home and use for one year. Family members in the home are also encouraged to use the computer, and in return are asked to answer periodic surveys about their use.

 “We want to build a digital `ohana,” said Sakamoto, explaining he has big hopes for the future.

The initial grant is for $384,000 and provided the computers and staff time for nearly 100 MCC students to participate in Project OHANA., Sakamoto said with positive feedback from participants and noticeable program results, this will hopefully be the first step in many to upgrading distance-learning for the college’s many campuses. 

Six said the program is particularly exciting because students will no longer have to choose between family and schooling.
The first stages of Project OHANA began nearly four years ago when the USDA Rural Utilities Service Distance Learning and Telemedicine (RUS DS&T) grant was written by Six. The grant entitled, Project OHANA (Online Health and Academic Network Access), will continue as long as the computers are still working.
In order to qualify for a laptop, students must be of native Hawaiian ancestry, a UH-MCC student attending classes in Hana, Lanai, or Molokai with a minimum 2.5 GPA, attend an orientation on using the laptop, and fill out periodic surveys on personal and family usage.
For more information on the program call Kelley Dudoit at 553-4490 ext. 29.

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