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Molokai slow internet causing problems for education, work

HONOLULU (AP) — Slow internet service has become an increasing problem for Molokai residents on Hawaiian Home Lands properties.

a close up of food: Molokai File Image

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Molokai File Image

Service provided by a single telecom provider has caused difficulties for residents working at home or families engaged in distance learning, Hawaii Public Radio reported Monday.


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Sandwich Isles Communication secured an exclusive license with the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands in 1995 to bring telecom services to rural homestead communities. In return, other companies must use and pay for the Sandwich Isles infrastructure to reach customers.

Sandwich Isles founder Al Hee was convicted of federal tax fraud, served nearly four years in prison and faces nearly $50 million in fines for defrauding the U.S. government. The company was stripped of $257 million in assets.

Democratic state Rep. Lynn DeCoite, who represents Molokai, said she has received numerous complaints from homesteaders.

“Anger, frustration. You can’t even get through to a live body to talk about what the situation is, or negotiations of how they can have their bills paid, or you can transfer over to another carrier,” DeCoite said.

Hawaiian homesteader Kui Adolpho said her only option for service in Hoolehua is Sandwich Isles, but frozen screens and constant buffering are a daily ordeal for her three children taking elementary school classes at home.

Adolpho also works from home, adding to the strain on limited bandwidth.

She began an online petition to raise awareness about the problems, noting that some homesteaders have to pay for internet hot spots to obtain adequate service.

“I expected lags and, you know, the occasional interruptions. But it got to the point where my children couldn’t even get instruction at all,” Adolpho said.

Sandwich Isles said it is aware of the problems with internet speed and plans to upgrade its infrastructure.

The company also said it is in negotiations to provide internet service in Hoolehua through Spectrum, which is owned by Charter Communications Inc.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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The Zoom Chat Solves Education Problems We Didn’t Even Know We Had

When my college went online in March, the overarching education philosophy was Let’s try to keep things normal. Of course none of us knew what that would look like, including me. I’m an undergraduate who works as a writing fellow—a cross between a peer tutor and a TA—in an introductory writing seminar. My “normal” had been walking around a classroom as students worked on their projects, answering questions and giving feedback, while the professor took aside small groups in another room.

a laptop computer sitting on top of a table: Zoom has some surprising benefits. Chris Montgomery / Unsplash

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Zoom has some surprising benefits. Chris Montgomery / Unsplash

When the professor and I translated this structure online, some of it worked: We could keep the small group/large group dynamic with a breakout room and a main session. But in that main session, I struggled to help students the way I could in person. I had no way to look over someone’s shoulder at her draft or gather the three students who were having problems sourcing research. More than that, I couldn’t address individual students without the discomfort of the entire class looking on. I couldn’t walk over to a student who’d been having trouble understanding the literature review genre, and ask him if he’d been able to emulate the model lit review’s style of reasoning. In a physical classroom, that’s a routine check-in; in a Zoom meeting, it’s a public shaming.


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So our first few online classes were very quiet. Students couldn’t sort themselves into groups or partnerships in the main room, and I didn’t know how to talk to them beyond asking, “Any questions?” at the beginning of each session. And eventually we all realized something I was experiencing in my own classes, too: The least effective virtual classrooms are the ones that attempt to imitate physical classrooms.

The urge to imitate makes sense. We want things to feel as normal as possible, so shouldn’t online classes feel like offline ones? But there’s an inherent problem when standard classroom techniques are translated online: They discourage student-to-student interaction. In person, students’ physical proximity facilitates an incredible amount of casual communication; they can sit next to a feedback partner or tap someone on the shoulder to ask for clarification on what the professor just said. When we take away the proximity, though, we’re left with videos of students’ heads trapped in isolated boxes. And the classroom community vanishes.

Because of this isolation, approximations of physical classrooms actively damage students’ opportunities to learn. When there’s little to no interstudent communication, everyone’s learning is limited to what they understand on their own. But if we prioritize facilitating communication, we can allow students to do what makes classrooms successful: combine their learning into a greater, shared whole.

Enter the Zoom group chat.

It sounds counterintuitive that a shared message board could be anything other than a distraction, let alone actively conducive to learning. But embracing the chat was the first step in creating a community again once my writing seminar went online in the spring.