Reaching REMOTE learners: Successes and challenges for students in an online graduate degree program in the Pacific Islands

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Abstract

Access to higher education in the U.S-affiliated Pacific Islands is limited. The island nations and territories in this Pacific region are geographically dispersed and separated by thousands of miles of ocean. Although local and regional colleges offer undergraduate degrees (associate's and bachelor's levels), islanders who seek graduate-level education have to move away from home or avail themselves of distance education opportunities in order to earn degrees at the master's and doctoral levels. To address a need for building the capacity of educational leaders in the Pacific to conduct and utilize program evaluation appropriately and effectively, Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL) and the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) partnered to deliver a two-year, online master's degree program. With funds provided by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), PREL and UH developed the Regional Education Master's Online Training in Evaluation (REMOTE) program to provide this educational opportunity to students located on several islands in the geographically vast and diverse Pacific region. In this article, the authors present the results from an evaluation of the two-year program. The program evaluation was conducted to understand the issues that an online student in the Pacific region faces. These Pacific island students are from indigenous communities and live in rural settings. Many speak English as a foreign language. As adult learners who are mid-career working professionals, they undertake an online program with many concurrent commitments to family, work, and community. (Contains 1 table.)

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Rao, K., & Giuli, C. (2010). Reaching REMOTE learners: Successes and challenges for students in an online graduate degree program in the Pacific Islands. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 11(1), 141–160. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v11i1.785

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