Biological Sciences

Hawaii DOE E-School
October 8, 2002

Darren Okimoto

Staying Connected

They used to say you can't go home, but Dr. Darren Okimoto found a way.

"I am a Hawaii boy at heart! I grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, and attended the University of Hawaii where I received B.A. and M.S. degrees in zoology," says Darren Okimoto, assistant professor, Department of Biological Sciences.

Sketch of Hawaiian islands.But Okimoto moved to Delaware in 1990 to earn his Ph.D., then later joined the UD faculty. Although he has lived here for over 10 years, he wants to stay connected to the Hawaiian community.

Okimoto now develops MyCourses materials for the Hawaii Department of Education e-School. Developed with funding from a 1996 Technology Innovation Grant, the virtual school provides distance learning courses for public high school students throughout the island state.

"My master's thesis advisor, Dr. E. Gordon Grau, and his postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Malia Chow, were the ones who first brought up the idea of me working with E-school to develop a biology course.

"They were aware of my desire to contribute some type of service effort to the Hawaiian community. When this opportunity came up, I decided to go for it."

Working with Soo Boo Tan, an E-school science instructor, Okimoto develops content for a basic science course using MyCourses. The team developed a one-year survey course on the plants and animals of Hawaii, which began last fall.

"Darren's been taking care of the course content, while I do the teaching. If I feel students need an alternative approach or strategy, I then make the appropriate adjustments," says Tan.

"Using MyCourses, we have incorporated weekly assignments, journals, field observations, quizzes, term/research papers, interactive chats and bulletin board discussions, and a culminating project web page."

In addition to his island activities, Okimoto uses MyCourses for courses he teaches at the University of Delaware.

"I was also looking for a more secure online environment for my supplemental course materials at UD. Before MyCourses, I had developed a web site that housed my materials for my lecture-based courses, but it was limited in that I could not provide any information to my students on grades. Also, if I wished to use a newsgroup, the students would have to use a separate software program. With MyCourses, everything I need is there (chat rooms, newsgroups, grades, etc.). So I have two really good reasons to use MyCourses and at this point in time, I'm pleased with the results."

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Darren Okimoto stays involved in his home state of Hawaii by participating in a -based public high school.