At the end of each academic year, the Department of Learning Design and Technology (LTEC), College of Education presents the Burniske Outstanding Master’s Project Award to an LTEC student.

The Burniske Outstanding LTEC Master’s Project Award is given to an LTEC student whose master’s project and other graduate work in the department best exemplify what Buddy valued in his students’ work: innovation, high quality research and writing, and significance to the field.

Nominees for the award are reviewed by a faculty selection committee and a recipient is recommended to the department for approval. A plaque representing this annual award with the name of the student recipient and the year is displayed in the College of Education.

As an English Language Arts teacher, Sherri is passionate about using storytelling to help middle and high school students connect more deeply with themselves, each other, and the world around them. The experience of teaching remotely during the COVID pandemic led her to enroll in the LTEC program to learn how to engage students using technology.

For her master’s project, Sherri developed an instructional module to help parents talk to their middle school tweens and teens about life on the internet. Recognizing a need for accessible and relevant instruction to help parents overcome barriers to communication around internet use, the module featured videos, podcasts, and interactive scenarios to teach parents strategies for tackling common communication problems, such as handling difficult emotions, engaging cooperation, and resolving conflict.

Dear friends, colleagues, and distinguished guests,

It is an absolute honor to stand before you today, humbled and grateful for this recognition. I sincerely thank the Burniske family, the LTEC Ohana, the College of Education, and the University of Hawaii for bestowing this award upon me.

As we all know, the past few years have been tumultuous and challenging, especially for educators. As I grappled with the difficulties of teaching remotely during a pandemic, I realized that my students’ struggles were about more than just technology and that the inequities I witnessed showed how my values as an educator were being tested. Then, I discovered the LTEC program and applied to the program to learn how to tackle some of those challenges head-on. And what a journey it has been! My two years as an LTEC student have been nothing short of transformative. I faced numerous obstacles and often felt pangs of frustration and inadequacy. But every time I felt like giving up, my incredible classmates and teachers lifted me up, encouraged me, and reminded me of my why. I recently found another reminder of my why when I read about Dr. Burniske’s life and accomplishments, especially his children’s book.

I’ve always loved children’s books and stories, and during my time in the program, I had many opportunities to apply my storytelling skills to my projects. One of the most fulfilling moments was creating a Master’s project that helped parents communicate with their teens about life on the Internet. So, as someone who loves storytelling, I was particularly moved by Dr. Burniske’s children’s book, “Clarence the Turtle,” which deals with the issue of bullying. His delightful tale took me on an emotional journey, and I was reminded of how storytelling is a powerful tool to inspire empathy and foster connection. Dr. Burniske’s creativity and compassion inspired me, and learning about his life and work has broadened my perspective of what I can achieve as an educator.

As I stand here today, I am reminded of Dr. Burniske’s legacy, and I feel privileged to be a part of it. I hope to honor his memory by designing instruction that promotes empathy, connection, and insight. In my community, I plan to start a Little Free Library at our neighborhood community center, especially for grandparents caring for their grandchildren. I aim to utilize technology and social media to help promote children’s literacy at home, and this is only the beginning.

In conclusion, I want to thank everyone who has been part of my journey and I want to encourage all of us to keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. Let us continue to inspire, educate, and empower the next generation to make the world a better place. Thank you!”



Kelly is an elementary school teacher at Kahaluʻu Elementary School (KES). Her mission is to continuously revise and improve upon her instruction to provide quality education for all students. She hopes to inspire students to put forth their very best, persevere through challenges, and experience the fruits of their labor. Her journey with the Learning Design and Technology (LTEC) master’s program began with the belief that she needed to become better equipped with instructional strategies and technology skills to help her students thrive in life. She entered the program as a novice in technology and instructional design. However, the LTEC ʻOhana accepted her wholeheartedly and challenged her to develop her skill set.

From going through the ADDIE process and systems approach model, her We are Waiheʻe project, changed her philosophy and framework on teaching to incorporate place-based learning into her instruction. The project provides fourth grade teachers with place-based tools within a live website for teachers and students to contribute to. She appreciated the community members and organizations who contributed their knowledge to the content within the toolbox to support students and teachers at KES. 

“If I were to meet Dr. Burniske in person, I would be in awe of who he is and all that he stood for. From what I learned, he loved his family, lived life to the fullest, and strived to educate all students, no matter how old or how young, and no matter where they were in the world. It seems that he is the type of person that would make the time to be there for you because you mattered. That inspires me as an educator and as a person. He faced challenges and overcame them with his team of cheerleaders: his family, friends, coworkers, and students. In life, I feel that we become who we are because of the people who believed and supported us through the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

This award has inspired me to encourage others to persevere through adversities. I applied to the master’s program in Learning Design and Technology because I needed to improve upon teaching with technology for the sake of my students and for my own children. I knew that I had to face these fears and insecurities so that they could thrive in life with the technology skills that they needed. In the beginning of the program, I felt very out of place. Each step was a new learning experience, from getting onto Zoom to creating a presentation. The learning curve was very steep. With each course and with the support from my professors and friends, I began to grow in confidence. However, LTEC 687 and 690 were the ultimate challenge for me as I’m sure it was for many. I created multiple project ideas that needed to be changed. My hierarchy chart had to be revised many times. Creating and finding content for my project was difficult, so I had to reach out to the community for their insight. What got me through those times were the people who believed in me when I could not believe in myself. I now understand what it means by the “LTEC ‘ohana.” No matter what challenges we may face, we stand together, cheering each other on. 

I hope to honor Dr. Burniske and his family by designing instruction unique to the learners so that they can empower others. I would like to teach these learners that we do not live alone and that we really are stronger together. My hope is that through this award, the community of Waihe’e and the staff at Kahalu’u Elementary School will come together to support each other to make learning relevant and meaningful for their students. I believe instructional design is the heart of teaching. Now, I am pondering on how to reshape my own instruction in all content areas to make it more effective.

What I learned from Dr. Burniske’s life and through the program is that instructional design is not stagnant. It continues to be adjusted and then readjusted to ultimately serve others. As the instruction is revised, so is the designer, as he or she needs to mentally and emotionally realign to press forward. Thank you Dr. Burniske for your inspiration, your ‘ohana and Penny for your thoughtfulness and beautiful artwork, Dr. Menchaca, my professors, the LTEC ʻohana, and my wonderful cohort! I wouldn’t be who I am today without you. Mahalo!”

Barth, aka “JR,” found LTEC in the middle age of his professional pilot career at Hawaiian Airlines. Having served as an instructor at Hawaiian and substitute math and science teacher at Punahou, he often experimented with teaching beyond the traditional methods and wondered about a way to join a community where others feel the same way about advancing the craft of learning. LTEC proved to be a perfect match for his desire to evolve and learn.

For his master’s project, JR connected with a team of NASA cognitive psychologists about their work on behaviors of airline pilots who successfully navigate challenging inflight situations. In addition to identifying the psychological and behavioral characteristics associated with successful outcomes, the NASA group identified gaps in current training that leave pilots ill-equipped to work collaboratively in the complex environment of the modern digital flight deck and busy airspace system. JR’s project conveyed the NASA team’s findings and recommendations through a series of task-based interactive videos for airline pilots.

“The day that I first began to understand Dr. Burniske’s character, and his impact on our field, was one of those vivid experiences that stands out from life’s blur. If you aren’t familiar with the passion he brought to his work, and how he changed the lives of those around him, I encourage you to spend some time discovering his words and the stories told by colleagues and loved ones. It’s a narrative that makes us want to improve ourselves and serve those who stand to benefit from this community’s important work.

While it’s a tremendous and humbling honor to play a role in preserving his legacy, accepting this award comes with a sense of sadness at his absence and that our generation would never learn from and with him. His presence is missed, even by those who never met him. Instead, we honor Dr. Burniske by focusing on the needs of others and committing to improve our craft as designers and innovators.

Thank you to the selection committee for this honor and for the opportunity to help us remember Dr. Burniske. Also thank you to the LTEC faculty for developing and nurturing this wonderful community.”

Photo of Suzanne Brown-McBrideSuzanne is a lifelong advocate for victims of abuse and communities impacted by violence. Throughout her life as a professional and volunteer, she has served as a front-line crisis worker, community educator, executive leader, and policy advocate. Today, she lives with her family on the Big Island and works as a consultant to not-for-profit organizations, government agencies, and philanthropy in order to make the legal system more accessible and equitable. For her master’s project, Suzanne partnered with the Hawaiʻi State Coalition Against Domestic Violence to pilot an online module focused on training new advocates to facilitate victim safety plans. Recognizing the need for more engaging online learning opportunities for advocates in Hawaii, this module used case-based learning to amplify the voices of survivors of domestic violence while connecting their experience to relevant learning content.

“It is an incredible honor to receive this award, and I am so thankful to the Burniske family, the LTEC faculty, and the College of Education at the University of Hawaii. As a community, we are surviving through a difficult time right now, and I believe that Dr. Burniske’s life typifies so many of the qualities we will need to address the challenges ahead: exuberance, diligence, a commitment to service, and a passion to find what unites us around the world.

Instructors and practitioners like Dr. Burniske are the reason many of us find our way to programs like LTEC; he inspires us to change the world. My road back to graduate school was a winding one. Like Dr. Burniske, I spent much of my early career running downhill as fast as I could to try to make a positive change while continually searching for ways to increase my impact. The LTEC program helped me find a way to channel that experience and energy into work that I hope will make a long-standing contribution to my community.

It is a testament to Buddy Burniske’s legacy that all of the finalists for the Burniske Award this year were so incredibly talented and committed. I am humbled to be counted among them.
Thank you.”

Sarah is a U.S. Navy veteran and performed throughout North America, Europe, and Africa during her eleven years as a military musician. After leaving the military, she served as the music administrator for Trinity Central Church Oahu and taught private music lessons in Honolulu. Sarah and her family moved to Yokosuka, Japan in 2018 where her husband serves on active duty in the military. There, Sarah teaches private horn lessons and performs with community groups in Kanagawa Prefecture.

For her master’s project, Sarah created and tested an aural music theory simulation in Minecraft Java for teachers of beginning music students ages 10-13. Using note blocks and building blocks, the simulation showcased ear training examples for teacher use in a music classroom, homeschool or private studio setting. Typical drill-and-practice aural theory methodology was enhanced through game-based learning and metacognitive strategies. A prototype of the simulation is available for multiplayer use in Minecraft Java.

Read Sarah’s master’s project paper at the UH Scholarspace repository.

“Each year, students gather at graduation and hear about Dr. Burniske. Some have only recently been introduced to him, his passion for travel, technology, teaching, and relationships. For others, it is a reminder of his legacy and impact, not just on UH but in academia. A common theme emerged as I read about Dr. Burniske…every single entry I read remembered him as an exceptional teacher who cared about each student and challenged them to think deeply and critically. The death of a loved one is hard to understand until it is experienced, and even then, each person experiences loss in different ways. Losing a loved one “too young” is especially emotional; not only have you lost the person, but you lose the future you imagined. That future disappears with them and changes into something new for everyone left behind.

I would like to thank the Burniske family for their generosity and for creating a future that continues to allow Dr. Burniske to make an impact on the LTEC program and students. I am extremely humbled that my project was selected as the recipient of this award among all the excellent projects that were designed this year. I will do my best to continue to contribute to our exciting field and to the LTEC community at University of Hawaii in Dr. Burniske’s honor and memory.

Having a supportive family was a great blessing; thank you to my husband, Luis, and my son, Ace, for having so much patience with me. Thank you to Dr. Peter and Dr. Paek for an excellent start to our cohort’s program and to Dr. Grace, Dr. Ho, Dr. Fulford and of course, our critical friends, for helping us all make it to the finish line. A very special thank you again to Dr. Peter and to the FabFive who ignited my enthusiasm for Minecraft, especially to Mellissa, Casey, and Cody who showed me what was possible in the multiverse. It has been a really wonderful experience studying at University of Hawaii and I look forward to the future.”

Tiffany is a math teacher at San Francisco International High School, a school for recent immigrants. Since students have different educational backgrounds, they enter high school in America with varying math skills. For her master’s project, Tiffany created online differe math lessons for her students. With three different levels of lessons, students were able to work on content that was tailored for their skill level. She implemented these lessons and evaluated their effectiveness based on the areas of learning mathematics, student engagement, and student

I would like to thank the Burniske family for demonstrating their love towards Dr. Burniske and having that love overflow to our LTEC program. Dr. Burniske’s credentials are very impressive, but as I read some of his work and what others have written about him, I was most impressed by the relationships he had with his family and his students. He collaborated with his mother to publish a children’s book, and when grading his students’ journals, he would respond to each student with a personalized letter. Similarly, I’ve been impressed by how relational this LTEC Program has been. LTEC really does feel like an Ohana. Like Dr. Burniske, all the professors here in LTEC have been phenomenal. They are all unique with different teaching styles, but they’ve all been excellent instructors who were willing to personalize learning for us, and they’ve been so available to help us. Special thanks to Dr. Grace for convincing me that Action Research was right for me. Action Research has taught me to be an observant, learner-focused teacher who makes data-driven modifications to improve instruction. I am so thankful to God for leading me to a wonderful Master’s program and sustaining me throughout this program. During my BA Graduation, I had a severe back condition that I could not walk without a walker. Life is fragile and I hope that with each opportunity I have, I will live a life that brings praise and glory to God.

makara headshotT graduated from the LTEC department and was the 2017 Burniske Outstanding Master’s Project Award winner.  Among three finalists, including Erika Molyneux and Kristel de Leon, T was recognized at LTEC’s graduation party on May 13, 2017. They each received a check from UH Foundation for their achievements, and Makara’s name and award year were added to a plaque on display in the COE.

“As an international student through the East-West Center, T has been exceptional in enriching all of our lives with his dedication to making education open to all learners,” LTEC Chair Curtis Ho said. “He will return to Cambodia and will represent our university well through his continuing efforts in implementing technology to make learning accessible.”

For his master’s project, which addresses the issue of unequal access to quality education among the students in the capital city and provinces in Cambodia, T developed an open web-based e-learning platform called “Open School.” The platform is a tool for teachers and students to create and take online courses for free. Built within WordPress, using a number of open-source tools, it was designed to be bilingual (English and Khmer), responsive on different devices, easy to use, and publicly open to Cambodian users. A current prototype of the platform is available.

In an address to LTEC’s graduates, T said, “It is such a great honor to have this precious opportunity to be part of Dr. Burniske’s legacy. My master’s project means a lot to me and represents the issues I care so much about. To be given this award means that I am not the only one who believes this work is important and that my efforts have been appreciated. I share this honor with the LTEC faculty, particularly my advisor Dr. Catherine Fulford, and my friends who have provided me with critical feedback throughout my project.”

munafo with two othersFor her final master’s project, Koran designed and tested an eLearning prototype for Hawaii Community College course IS 101 “Building Bridges to Self, College, and the Community” using a no cost application of existing system Ed Tech resources, Google@UH & the Laulima (Sakai) Learning Management System, and combining them into one simplified user interface accessible from an array of devices and platforms. Her project: “Usability Study of a Simplified eLearning Design that Integrates Google@UHApps and the Laulima LMS” was conceived to improve user perception, efficiency, and ease of use of the integrated by design toolset.

The innovative eLearning design includes a social media platform to support connected and collaborative learning, simplified new and remixed multimedia content, step-by-step processes & scaffolding to support learning, and the use of authentic assessments. The design also includes a framework to support ease of use for administration, collaboration, and sharing with efficient use of the UH cloud platform.

View Koran’s project in the  UH Manoa Scholarspace repository to learn more.

This story of success begins when I, a former high school dropout, equipped with only a GED, stepped through the open door of Hawaii Community College as a non-traditional student, and began on my path to higher education. Along the way, there have been many helping hands, and without them, my success may not have been realized. The support and guidance of my professors, instructors, and peers at Hawaii Community College, UH Hilo, and UH Manoa, along with the generous support of my community, have played a crucial role in my process. This success is shared with all!

My master’s degree project really began with my own quest for usability as I remixed and reinvented eLearning designs during the thousands of hours that I spent learning online in the University of Hawaii system. It was a process of discovery. On a deeper level,  I created the design because I wanted to have a positive impact on student success and eLearning at UH. It is even more rewarding to have my hard work and dedication to the project recognized with the Buddy Burniski Outstanding Masters Project Award. And so, a little bit of Dr. Burniski’s legacy lives on in my success.

In my quest to learn about who Dr. Burniski was I found ample evidence of a man who lived fully, loved deeply, and made a difference in the lives of others. I hope I exemplify what he valued in student achievement and scholarship. This award represents a kindness that will stay with me for a lifetime.

Perhaps the most profound learning that has occurred for me over the past 6 years of my journey in higher education is this: our differences are inevitable. Yet It is the places that we intersect as humans being where our commonalities are found. And so, I wish to leave you with this: Live everyday. Love, no matter what. And know that whatever you do, your actions make a difference in the lives of others.

cyprianoFor his final master’s project, David developed and evaluated a training module for volunteer docents at the King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center. His project, Be a Part of History: Web-based Volunteer Training Module for Judiciary History Center Docents, was conceived to create a better experience for visitors of the Judiciary History Center by improving the effectiveness of services the volunteer docents provide.

Visit David’s ePortfolio to learn more about this outstanding master’s project.

David is an educational assistant at the King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center.

As a first year student in the LTEC program, the prospect of a “Master’s project” seemed so monumental at the time.  The subsequent three years would be filled with reading, writing, collaboration, presentations, peer feedback and just the right amount of procrastination.

As I began working on my instructional design project, an award was the farthest thing from my mind.  I’m sure this sentiment is shared with my peers.  We were determined and produced quality work because that is what we were taught and what was expected of us, not with the hope that we would be recognized.  Each faculty member that I have worked with in this program has contributed to my growth with feedback, support, and encouragement and has inspired me to perform to the highest degree.

When I was first notified, I was surprised to learn that I had won the Burniske Award.  It took a moment to sink in.  I’ll admit that I was proud of my finished product and relieved to have finished it in time, but there were numerous excellent projects, so I hadn’t considered myself a serious contender.  A number of the ideas and tools that were implemented by my peers left me admiring their novel approaches and effective solutions to problems that I had not given much thought to.  I am certain there is very little distinction between the quality and amount of effort that my peers and I put into our final projects.  To my peers – I want you to know I was indeed inspired by the products of your hard work and hope to incorporate what I have learned from you into my own projects in the future.

While I did not have the opportunity to meet Dr. Burniske, I have no doubt that he was inspirational and motivational as have been all our professors.  It is evident from his essay “Running Downhill”, and from pictures and videos with his colleagues, friends, and family that he was a loving father and husband as well as an outstanding scholar emanating kindness and intellect who made an impact on the lives of those around him.  I admire Dr. Burniske’s indomitable spirit and hope to someday contribute as much as he did to the field of Learning Design and Technology and leave the same lasting impression on my students.  Though he is no longer with us, Dr Burniske continues to teach us.  His lessons will continue through me and through my peers in the LTEC program.
So let us go forth in the spirit of Dr. Burniske and seize the day…
– 2015 Burniske Outstanding Master’s Project Awardee recipient David Cypriano

adam halemano headshotFor his final master’s project, Adam developed and evaluated a web-based instructional module teaching beginner level adult students, with little to no musical background, how to identify and engage in playing chords and scales on a contemporary piano keyboard. Adam discusses this project in the scholarly paper, Piano Basics for Online Mobile Learning.

Visit Adams’ ePortfolio to learn more about this outstanding master’s project.

Adam is a technical analyst / corporate trainer for a renowned commercial real estate firm base out of Houston, TX. His interests include Art, Music, History, Politics, and Philosophy. In his downtime, he loves to sketch, sing, and play the piano and ukulele. Adam is of native Hawaiian ancestry and was born and raised in Hawaii.

When it comes to the personal pursuit and acquisition of knowledge, through formal or informal means of education, my philosophy is pragmatic yet modestly idealistic. To me, education is a fundamental prerequisite toward sensibility, inspiration, and enlightenment. As educated individuals, I am of strong opinion that we are better able to maintain a level of intellectual acuity and social responsibility that brings about many advantages to ourselves and the rest of society.

Within the broad scope of academia, I consider myself a digital pluralist. The utilization of digital technology as a teaching device within the classroom setting, in my opinion, is primarily geared to improve pedagogic efficiency and instructional proficiency. While technology has many “communal” uses within the wide array of social mediums that comprise our global community, as an educational tool, I now have a much greater sense of appreciation for its intrapersonal and introspective qualities that help to foster a more heuristic and resolute form of cognitive learning and thinking.

As a recipient of this memorial award, I am humbled and honored to be a part of Dr. Burniske’s noble and remarkable legacy with the Department of Educational Technology. While I have never had the privilege of meeting this beloved man, whom many affectionately refer to as “Buddy”, I consider myself fortunate that his family chose to preserve his memory in a manner befitting of his noble character and esteemed reputation as a dedicated facilitator of knowledge. With great care and dedication, I too will endeavor to preserve his memory by living up to the embodiment of qualities valued by Dr. Burniske.

With much esteem, I would like to extend a warm “Mahalo Nui” to the Burniske family, my ETEC ohana (cohort, peers, and critical friends) and faculty (Dr. Curtis, Dr. Mike, Dr. Bert, and Dr. Hattori) for their knowledge, feedback and support. To my academic advisor – Dr. Peter Leong, I wish to convey my sincerest gratitude and respect for his insight, guidance, and wisdom. He has been an integral part of my success within the ETEC program and for this I am eternally grateful.

To the Final Fab Four…we did it you guys! – Adam “Boy” Halemano, May 2014

marisa yamada in oceanFor her final master’s project, Marisa developed and evaluated a mobile-based module which instructs smartphone users on how to utilize a speech-to-text app in place of typing for online assignments. Marisa discuss this project in her scholarly paper, Talking is the new typing: Challenging smartphone users to dictate instead of type to enrich the mobile learning experience.

Visit Marisa’s ePortfolio to learn more about this outstanding master’s project.

Marisa is a graphic design freelancer who is searching for an inspiring position in the educational technology field. Her interests include mobile learning, augmented and virtual reality, and distance learning. She hopes to continue further research in these topics.

Being in the Educational Technology program was such a great experience for me because I was able to grow as a person and at the same time learn so many new things about education & new technologies. I felt inspired all the time!

I look back at the work I did when I first took classes and then later on in the field, and I find a huge improvement. This is attributed to the amazing feedback & support from the ETEC ohana and faculty especially to Dr. Bert, Dr. Ho, Dr. Peter, Dr. Lin, Prof. Hattori, Frank Jumawan, and my critical friends.

Thank you also to the Burniske family for sharing Dr. Buddy Burniske’s legacy with us and giving us students something to aspire to. I will take his inspiration with me as I find my own path in this new and exciting field!

It’s been a wonderful journey, thank you! –Marisa Yamada, May 2013

meilene roco headshotFor her final master’s project, Meilene developed an online instructional module, using VoiceThread, to teach non-speakers of Chinese some basic pronunciation of: 1) commonly mispronounced Chinese names, 2) proper forms of address, and 3) basic greetings. Meilene discusses her project in her scholarly paper, Learning Pronunciation of Chinese Surnames, Proper Salutations and Useful Greetings Using VoiceThread.

Meilene is a Chinese language instructor who loves people, languages, cultures and lifelong learning. Meilene wanted to produce an online module teaching Chinese pronunciation following instructional design principles learned in her program, to benefit anyone with an interest in the subject.

During her course of study in the program, Meilene also developed an interest in the role of trust in distance education collaboration. She touches upon the topic in one of her ePortfolio samples. She hopes to research further in this area in the future.

I was at a total loss for words and overwhelmed when I read the email from Dr. Curtis Ho. It took hours before I could reply.

In receiving this award, I keep thinking that if it takes a village to raise a child, then it certainly takes a whole learning community to raise a graduate, too. My work is the culmination of all the sharing of knowledge and learning I gained from those who taught me and journeyed with me in the program. My professors, TAs, peers, critical friends and research participants; my supportive husband, son and daughter; and most of all, God, who graciously provided me everything I needed. I am truly very thankful.

I would like to have known Dr. Buddy Burniske. It seems that he and I share common interests in international cultures. Mahalo to the award committee for the recognition and especially to the Burniske family for celebrating Dr. Burniske’s legacy in such a meaningful way. I am deeply, deeply honored.

renee adams headshotFor her final master’s project, Renee developed an instructional module that provided information to support students’ work on their e-portfolios. Renee describes this project in her scholarly paper, Developing Your Master’s E-Portfolio: An Instructional Module.

Visit Renee’s ePortfolio and read her paper on ScholarSpace to learn more about this outstanding master’s project.

Renee is currently a 7th grade social studies teacher with the Hawaii State Department of Education at Samuel Enoka Kalama Intermediate School on the slopes of Haleakala in Makawao, Maui.

Renee’s acceptance speech:

Ok, look at me. Maybe I coulda woulda shoulda retired to work in the garden at this point in my life, but obviously, I chose to enter the OTEC program.

Of course, if you know me, you would believe me when I say I had no idea what I was really getting in to, including how much it costs to go to graduate school these days. I read an email passed on by the principal to the staff and thought, this sounds interesting, I think I can do this. When I looked at the program website, the only thing that really stopped me in my tracks was, ironically, the idea of creating an e-portfolio.

So here I came, to Wist Hall for the weekend. Met my teachers, met my 2008 cohort, met the Burniske Award winner, Craig Okumura, saw his project. I was convinced that I would never be doing something at that level. So I was surprised, shocked, really, to hear that I had been chosen to receive this award. It was the farthest thing from my mind. By that time I was in full survival mode thinking, one assignment at a time. You’re almost there; can’t stop now. The end is near.

When the conversation ended, I sat there stunned. I honestly wondered why I was chosen. So I went back to the Burniske website, which I had not revisited for three years, to see if that would shed light on this.

I found a wonderful piece he wrote about running downhill, something he did as a child in the Berkshire Mountains in Western Massachusetts. He said that for him “it was simple, just stay on your feet, letting your body hurl you faster than it seemed you could possibly go.” He loved it, and then reports, “It seems I have often been running downhill, going just as fast as I could, letting my arms and legs carry me faster than even I imagined that I could go.” And this disposition to run downhill led him to adventures most of us only dream of.

In another piece he goes on to speak of gathering the courage to confront one’s fears; embracing the uncertainty in life.

It must have been remarkable to be in his classes.

I began to get it.

For nearly 22 years, I cared for my incredible daughter Naomi Nahalaimalama Adams, born with a congenital heart condition, whose heart gave out while she was waiting for her second heart transplant at UCLA Medical Center in March 2007. She taught me well about the cone of uncertainty that Dr. Burniske refers to as the place of life. She was much smarter than me. She made me laugh; she made me strong; she taught me what was really important; and what was real. And that I must make every day count.

So I chose OTEC instead of gardening, I chose to take on new challenges and live life to the fullest; to make each day count. After my world stopped over and over in those years, I had internalized the reality of uncertainty and the choice to be courageous.

Our instructors told us from the beginning that it’s not about the technology, and you didn’t lie!

After teaching for over 30 years, I thought I knew something, and then I started something that took me to a place that reaffirms the importance of lifelong learning, that opened my mind to places I didn’t know existed, I ran downhill for three years, and I am a different person today. What a run! It was exciting, challenging, engaging,

It was about becoming a better teacher, about learning about the unlimited potential of technology in our classrooms that had now become the world. It was about stretching – running downhill – but not racing my peers- usually racing against time. It was about pulling together with my peers, in every single course, And the better I became at that, the better the learning was. All of the graduates here today – you taught me the most important lessons about teaching and learning – we lived them.

Don’t you find it amazing that we were really virtual strangers, who because of this program were brought together to work and learn and create, and become friends? Yet many of us have never even met in person? What does that say for the future of global relationships?

It’s not my moment, if anything, I represent what we ALL went through, and we literally went through it together, collaborating, supporting, coaxing, learning, we did this together gang, and that’s why this day belongs to ALL of us.

I am truly humbled to have been chosen to receive the Burniske Award. It seems that everyone in this department has been inspired by the life and work of Dr. Burniske, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to study and grow with you. You just didn’t turn out to be the unapproachable ivory tower gods and goddesses I expected (except when I was actually in your classes, of course).

This is what you have all reaffirmed in me, the genuine feeling that it is good to be alive, that life is good.

I am so honored to share this day with you. Mahalo nui loa from the bottom of my heart. we have finished, and we may be better technologists, we may be better educators, but what really makes us special, I believe, is that we are better people.

So thank you to Dr. Burniske. It’s obvious he’s around here, as is my daughter. They are certainly in our hearts as we keep alive their legacies.

Mahalo to the Burniske family and the College of Education for providing an opportunity for us to celebrate our work. And for an opportunity to teach my sons about life.

hong ngo headshotFor her final master’s project, Hong developed and evaluated an interactive PDF learning module on establishing a hybrid learning course for the Vietnamese teachers of English at the Center for Foreign Affairs and Language Training (CEFALT) in the Ho Chi Minh City of Viet Nam. The module provided the teachers with basic knowledge of hybrid learning, effective strategies for incorporating available technologies into their teaching, and a framework for establishing a hybrid learning course. Hong describes this project in her scholarly paper, Introduction to Establishing a Hybrid Learning Course for the Vietnamese Teachers of English at CEFALT.

Hong worked for CEFALT, one of the ten sections in the Department of Foreign Affairs in Viet Nam. She started her work there as a part-time office staff member. With endless efforts at work and in her self-education, Hong was employed as an academic administrator. She received various awards for her great contributions to the development of her institution. In 2006, Hong became a government official of Viet Nam Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In March 2008, under the East-West Center full-time scholarship award funded by Ford Foundation’s International Fellowship Program, Hong was able to pursue her Master’s degree in Educational Technology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Hong came to the Educational Technology (ETEC) Department with serious aspirations for more equitable and high quality learning opportunities at her school. She was in the 2-year degree program. Though most of the ETEC courses were very difficult, she enjoyed her study because of the practicality of the courses and a fabulous learning community created by her cohort and ETEC faculty. Hong was impressed by the professionalism, enthusiasm, and dedication to students of her professors and instructors in the ETEC Department. These factors have greatly contributed to success in her graduate study.

In the ETEC Department, Hong has had a wonderful opportunity to acquire the knowledge of Educational Technology and translate it into practice. Introduction to Establishing a Hybrid Learning Course has been the first instructional module that Hong designed for the Vietnamese teachers of English at her school. Hong tried her best in order to develop a useful self-instructional module for them. As a result, her participants including the subject matter expert, all valued the design and the practicality of the module. Further, her module was selected for the Burniske Outstanding Master’s Project Award for 2010.

When I saw an email from Professor Curtis Ho, regarding “Burniske Outstanding Master’s Project Award”, I thought that someone just won this prize. I opened it in order to say “Congratulations” to this person… However, WOW! That email was for me. It was unbelievable. I read it three times to ensure that it was true and it was! I heard about this award in 2008. At that time I was a new student in the ETEC program. I didn’t think about it after that because reaching that award was beyond my imagination. I didn’t know Dr. Burniske as well. I am truly honored to receive this Award and to learn about Dr. Burniske. Also I am deeply grateful to my first-year academic advisor – Professor Catherine Fulford, my academic advisor – Professor Curtis Ho, all ETEC faculty for their wonderful instruction, guidance, and support to me, to my family in Viet Nam for their moral support, to Kim Small – IFP scholarship specialist for his wonderful support and encouragement, to Ms. Minh Kauffman and all IFP staff for granting me a higher education opportunity, and to my peers and project participants for their feedback on my work. Thank you all. Without you, this would be impossible! – Hong Ngo

Deanna headshotFor her final master’s project, Deanna designed and created a two-dimensional, side-scrolling video game on cell structures and functions of the typical animal cell for seventh grade science students in an intermediate school in Hawaii. Deanna describes the design of this project in her scholarly paper, Cell Block: The Creation of a Video Game for Seventh Grade Science Students.

Deanna is currently a Producer/Director for Maui Community College’s cable channel, MCC-TV. She writes, produces, directs, shoots and edits a variety of programs for the college. Deanna also assists instructors with their technology needs for their classes. Whatever kind of technology they want or need, she helps them to learn to use it or helps them to find solutions to their needs.

When I entered the ETEC program, I wasn’t sure the program was the right one for me since I already had a strong technology background and the program seemed to be geared more towards k-12 teachers, and I am not a teacher. However, I learned a lot about instruction, what goes into creating units of instruction and lesson plans as well as taking information and using technology solutions to create effective instructional modules. Without the ETEC program, I might never have discovered serious games. I have been a gamer since the days of Pong and I hadn’t realized that it is possible to make really good games for educational purposes, exciting games that teach real things to real people.

I was truly surprised to win this award. I am very honored that the committee recognized the work, research and meticulousness I put into my project. I would like to thank the committee, my instructors Mike, Ellen, Ari, Peter, Bert, Mary and especially Curtis, my advisor, for all the encouragement they gave me. Of course, I could not have done any of this without the support of my family, especially my husband Jim, my mom, my brother, and my late night companion Kekoa, who passed over the Rainbow Bridge at the beginning of the semester. I would also like to thank the students who tested my game.

I look forward to what the future has to offer and what I may be able to contribute to both the educational field and the gaming world. E kūlia i ka nu‘u – Strive to reach the highest. – Deanna Kamakeeaina Reece

craig okumura headshotFor his final master’s project, Craig developed an instructional module aimed at delivering a basic science topic taught in medical school in a digital interactive and multimedia format and at increasing accessibility to the basic sciences using the Internet. Craig describes the design of the module in his scholarly paper, Enhancing basic sciences with an interactive, multimedia-enhanced, web-based instructional module for first-year medical students.

Visit Craig’s portfolio to learn more about his work in instructional design and graphic design.

Craig attributes most of his interest and skills in technology to his experience working for the UH Sea Grant College Program. Among his many duties, he was given the opportunity to design the program’s quarterly newsletter. Impressed by the design (photography, typography, and layout), the director expanded his role to include designing and printing posters, brochures, and guidebooks. Positive reactions to his work and encouragement from his colleagues and friends led him to enroll in the master’s program in Educational Technology. Midway through the program, he transferred his skills and knowledge to an instructional support position at the UH John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM). There he conducted his master’s project, developing an interactive, multimedia-enhanced, web-based instructional module that will be used by every first-year medical student class.

I’ve spent three years in the ETEC program – worked hard and enjoyed every moment of it. But it is unbelievable to me that I am worthy of such an award. I didn’t know Dr. Burniske, but I believe I would have learned a great deal from him. His high standards and character echoes through each student, staff and faculty member who knew him. I am truly honored and humbled to receive this award. – Craig Okumura, 05/18/08

At JABSOM, Craig assists lecturers with technology presentation needs, administers the student content management system, and designs the curricular handbooks. He also owns a graphic design and multimedia company. He hopes that one day soon his work accomplishments and master’s degree will lead him to an instructional design or other educational technology position.

mike travis headshotFor his final master’s project, Mike developed a web-based instructional module titled What is Assistive Technology and How Can It Help Students? Mike’s scholarly paper describes the design of the instructional module with the goal of teaching future educators about assistive technology and how it can best help students with language-processing differences.

Visit Mike’s ePortfolio to learn more about this outstanding master’s project.

Mike’s experiences with technology have spanned over 27 years and many different fields, from programming in BASIC on an Atari 800 with a cassette tape drive, creating presentations at a marketing/new product company, co-founding a web-development company, and serving as the technology director at a small private school in Hawaii. Through it all, he knew that one day he would need to complete his master’s degree in Educational Technology. Mike is most excited about all the time he will finally be able to spend with his wife and two daughters.

It is an honor to receive this award. I want to thank all my professors and fellow students who helped me along the way. Ironically, Dr. Burniske’s class was my first graduate class in over eight years, and it was one of the most challenging and interesting classes I have ever taken. Dr. B. was an excellent teacher who taught me more about myself, telecollaboration, and how to be a better teacher. I miss him very much. – Mike Travis, 05/09/07

Mike is currently a high school technology and math teacher at ASSETS School in Honolulu, Hawaii. ASSETS School is dedicated to helping gifted and/or dyslexic students. This was where Mike got his inspiration to build an instructional module about assistive technology. Mike is hoping to bring his new master’s degree skills back to ASSETS to continue to grow the high school technology department.