ITV in Hawai`i: the Hawai`i Interactive Television System (HITS)




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Hawaii Interactive Television System is a microwave system that actually was funded by the legislature; it was approved by the legislature in 1984, that's when they first appropriated funds. But as you know, like any major building project, it does take quite a while to get it done. And the difficulties of the HITS system was primarily that microwave is a line-of-sight technology, and so we had to make sure all the towers and antennas were in locations that could see each other. And so in the process of getting all the land clearances, building the towers, in some cases, mounting the antennas, it wasn't until June of 1990 that in fact the first classes started being delivered in two-way video format across our state.





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Because of the island geography, only on O`ahu do we have a major 4-year professional, graduate institution, the University of Hawai`i at Manoa. On Kaua`i and Maui, only a community college exists. On the Big Island, while there is a 4-year undergraduate college, there is no graduate work. So primarily, what HITS does is it provides access to people on other islands access to programs a different campus may have.


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There are four major islands where we have university campuses. In addition, on Lana`i and Moloka`i, there are what we call Education Centers, where UH has a presence, through maybe an office building or in some sort of other state or public building. Basically, what HITS does have, then, is microwave towers and antennas usually on top of mountains -- then we can link to the campus at the bottom of the mountain. We send signals up to the mountain and from there the signal maybe goes across the channel to another antenna, and it gets beamed down to the campus on a separate island. With this entire system across the state, we can in fact do two-way video among all the major islands of Kaua`i, O`ahu, Maui, and the Big Island of Hawai`i.


Q: What was the initial capital investment?

A: [Listen]Initially, it was $2.5 million, and that was to build a set of towers and mount the antennas. Subsequently, though, I think the total amount that was actually spent in terms of just the network infrastructure to connect all the microwave sites was closer to $4 million.

[Listen] What I would recommend, though, is that this might not be the technology that people would want to invest in, in some cases, partly because with video over ISDN lines and fiber capacities being made more available to educational institutions, they could in fact tie that into, or deliver distance education, via that...

Q: Some people probably don't know what ISDN lines are.

A: It's a type of high-speed fiber that usually phone companies install, and you can carry video over those lines, as well as data.

Q: So you think that's the way the technology is going?

A: I believe so.



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"Our Faculty Development Program is one where we do some general sessions across the system, and we actually use our technology to do the instruction, primarily because we want faculty to have the experience of being the student at the origination campus as well as the receiving campus. So in fact, as part of this faculty development series, for example, we might have a staff member on another campus presenting how to use graphics effectively, so that faculty that are sitting here with us at Manoa might get a sense of, "Oh, this is what it's going to feel like for my students on the other end of this camera." And then there're times when I might do a portion of the presentation on interactive strategies, so therefore the faculty can get also a sense of, "This is what it feels like to be a student here," and that's part of the development program. We hopefully model the behavior that we want and we call on faculty attending at other locations to make comments. So we do that kind of a program, which is then available to all faculty on all of our ten campuses."




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"In addition, it's really a one-on-one working with the faculty. Often times, faculty have very different hours, they can't come to group sessions. It really is incumbent upon us work with the faculty at the level they're at, as well as at the times that they are available. So we provide just personal, one-on-one, instructional design kind of services. We might even help the faculty create websites or create the graphics, maybe PowerPoint, to do their presentations with."





At present, a two-year sequence of Chinese courses is offered on HITS. Students at the originating site at Manoa are regular day students at this flagship campus; students at receive sites register for community college credit through Kapi'olani Community College (KCC), which serves as host institution for the receive-site portion of the course even when there happen to be no receive-site students at KCC. (KCC liaises with the registrars at the various other receive sites to make KCC registration possible for students at each site.) Administratively speaking, therefore, each of the HITS Chinese courses is actually two courses in one: the regular Manoa section and a community college section made up of receive-site students in various locations.

The two-year sequence of courses was begun in 1995, with the second year being added in 1996 and a summer version of the first-year course in 1997. Originally, the courses were offered as part of a grant project to develop models for ITV pedagogy in foreign languages.This grant project also funded development of video materials in Chinese.



©1999 Stephen Fleming and David Hiple, NFLRC, University of Hawai„i; Hae Okimoto, Information Technology Services, University of Hawai„i. All rights reserved.