[ printer-friendly version
Steven Yankopoulos is an 18-year-old Childrens patient
with cystic fibrosis who regularly spends weeks in the hospital
for treatment. While an inpatient in December, he had the chance
to use a Web camera to attend one of his high school classes. Below,
in his own words, he describes the experience and what it could
mean for patients in the future.
technology amazing? We always hear that as technology is coming,
its improving. Guess what! Its here, it has improved.
We strive to make sure that we come out with new medicine to help
people with heart transplants and various illnesses. But there is
something that always seems to be overlooked by most people when
it comes to technology: education. Technology can vastly improve
the way we learn and teach. I had the pleasure of having the first
taste of something that might be the way we all learn and work in
I have cystic
fibrosis, which is a lung illness that often needs to be treated
at the hospital. Being stuck in the hospital for two to three weeks
at a time and missing high school classes can seem insurmountable.
I do as much schoolwork as I can during my stay, but it can be very
So, the last time I was an inpatient I proposed an idea: Would
it be possible to have a class while being in the hospital? Yes,
it was! My high school has the luxury of having a Web camera, so
I asked around the hospital saying that if you could connect and
have a videoconference about medical issues, why not have a video
conference so patients can attend some of their high school classes?
So courtesy of my school and Childrens Hospital Boston, I
was able to connect to Londonderry
High School in New Hampshire and participate in my Law Studies
class. The class went from 9:40 to 10:40 am and thanks to the Web
camera, I was able to participate in a mock trial as the lawyer
for the defense.
The amazing part about the whole thing was that, because of a dial-up
connection, I could talk to my class and they could talk back to
me through the TV. My role was different however, as it seemed I
was the center of attention. Everyone seemed to look at me (no sleeping
now) while I dazed into the TV seeing my classmates. What a great
feeling to be able to continue a normal life.
The simple thought is this. How did you learn how to walk? Did
your parents give you work sheets or did they instruct you on how
to walk? The same idea works in school. Yes, work sheets help, but
missing valuable class time hurts the process of learning.
This is where we need interaction and instructional time. This
is where the Web camera comes into effect. The unfortunate part
is that it does cost $200 dollars or more per connection, and I
had to ask my school if there was any more put into this. Thankfully
there was, and the idea became a reality, just like the future.
If this was just a taste of what is to come, then I can't wait until
I try the whole meal!
Education World: Desktop Videoconferencing