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Online courses make education possible

Mother rely on technology for college education

by Kristi Ho'ohuli, staff writer


An hour has passed and Laura Lewis, 49, completes her test and checks her e-mail for the next assignment due. As she starts the assignment, she is interrupted by a child’s cry. She closes her assignment and tends to her motherly duties, calling the baby “precious.”

Lewis, along with many other mothers, has taken advantage of the technological revolution that has created online college courses.

Online courses allow mothers to avoid traditional barriers to acquiring a college education. Child care costs, long commutes to and from school, parking fees, and rising gas prices are all obsolete as obstacles to education. Moreover, mothers can spend time at home with their children.

College tuition is generally the same for online courses as for in the classroom courses. Before online educational technology, a mother from the Leeward coast would have to pay a rate of $20 a day for child care, approximately $20 a week for gas, and close to $20 a week for parking. That’s $60 a week, $240 a month that mothers and others can avoid in additional educational costs by taking classes online.

A Nanakuli mother, Lewis started taking on-line courses last semester: “I didn’t want to drive to town and go to school with students less than half my age,” Lewis said. “I love to stay home and do my homework when and where I want to.”

Online courses take away the wall-enclosed classroom and face to face meeting with classmates and teachers. Mothers can do assignments and tests at their own pace and schedule. Dialog and discussion are replaced by chat rooms and message boards.

Along with avoiding high costs, online courses allow mothers to do their daily home routines at their own in the convenience and without leaving their homes. Lewis explains the benefits of online courses for her: “I’ve stayed home with my kids for over 28 years. I wouldn’t want anyone else to care for my children. When they are at school or taking a nap, I can complete an assignment. When my husband has to stay late at work, I can take an exam while waiting for him to come home.”

In Hawai‘i, many teen mothers have had to drop out of school or end their education with high school graduation. Kristen Ferriman, 20, is grateful for online courses because she thought she would never have the chance to go to college: “I was sure that if I wanted to go to college, I would have to wait until my baby goes to college,” said Ferriman.

Lewis’ and Ferriman’s experiences show that mothers can balance a hectic schedule and still have time for themselves, that a college degree is still obtainable.

HPU offers more than 50 online courses. To enroll in an online course, the students need a computer that has basic hardware and software and an Internet connection. Currently, HPU offers, entirely online, the Associate of Science in Management degree program and the graduate- level Professional Certificate in Organizational Change and Development.

For more information, call the Registrar’s Office at 544-0239 or visit the distance-learning section on HPU’s Web site at

Lewis puts her last child down for a nap, sits again at her computer and opens up the economics test that she had started that morning. She takes her time, rereads the textbook for the answer, and begins to type.



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