Apple Technology Helps Kids with Illness Stay in School
Forget the Three R's of Education: Try the Three "i's" Instead

by Joe Leo, Columnist March 23, 2007

NEWS: San Francisco, CA (3.23.07)-- They say "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" but at one school in a small town south of San Francisco, Apple technology is the doctor, keeping students who are sick at home connected with their teachers and classmates, by attending school in "virtual mode."

As reported last night on NBC11 News (KNTV based in San Jose), the Bay Area's NBC station, reporter Marianne Favro told the story of one student who had to stay home because of his illness, but was able to keep on his studies thanks to technology.

Technology provided by the Bay Area's own Apple Inc., headquartered in Cupertino, California.

Chris Laub, a fifth grader at Bel Aire Elementary School in Tiburon, California was out of school for a whole year when he was diagnosed with Leukemia. His situation required him to stay at home, but that didn't keep him from going to school.

Catch is, he apparently didn't step foot on the school grounds during his 4th grade year. How did he stay home to recover and all the while, be "in" class, interacting with his classmates and teachers?

Forget the three "R's" of education-- reading, 'riting (writing), and 'rithmetic (arithmetic). Enter Apple's style of education with the three "i's"-- the iBook, the iSight webcam, and Mac OS X's iChat AV.

By using these three "i's" as a technology tool to battle the big "i"--illness as well as isolation--all eyes seem to be on this school that's using Apple technology to put itself on the map.

Students who are ill at home, especially with something as big as Leukemia, usually miss out on a lot of school and end up falling behind, as Anchor Lisa Kim points out before Favro's report.

"Logging on from home added up to much more than mastering math problems. Chris was able to remain close with his classmates," Favro reports.

Being isolated at home doesn't seem to help either, but with the way Bel Aire Elementary School is handling this "problem," its students are able to enjoy their temporary absence as if they were never absent at all.

"It made me feel like I'm not missing anything, or just made me feel comfortable [and] not left out," says Laub.

Laub demonstrates with an iBook and an iSight camera--with the iChat AV software--how he can participate in a math lesson with his entire class. As his teacher writes some problems on the white board, she asks a question of the class and Laub gives an answer.

He gets instant feedback on the iBook's screen, and as Favro says, "...his teachers can see him too."

Currently, three students at the school are using this technology, and any student who's too sick to attend class can advantage of Bel Aire's special program.

Principal Patti Purcell says, "It's a whole different way of us being able to connect kids to school and allow them to feel like they're really here, when they're not."

At the end of the report, Favro mentions that today is the school's annual Cyber Fair and Laub's project will showcase the technology that allowed him to stay in school, demonstrating with pictures and video how he was able to do just that-- all thanks to an "apple."

According to Favro, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is trying to get the word out and hopes more schools will use this technology so that students can benefit from it.

SOURCE: NBC11 News (on-the-air broadcast-- Thursday, 3/22/07)