Thursday, June 14,
By John Veasey
Times West Virginian Staff Writer
FAIRMONT - East Dale's summer Adult Technology Camp is taking on a new twist.
The computer class is being made available to a pair of disabled people in their homes through the magic of the Internet.
Walter Patrick, a stroke victim who lives in Monongah, and Linda Knoble of Pleasant Valley, who suffers from muscular sclerosis, are both taking the class from their homes, thanks to modern technology.
"Greg Patrick, who has taught the class at East Dale before, came up with the idea to have his father take the class," said Donna Peduto, one of the camp directors. "We had to enlist a lot of technical help but we did it."
She said that Michael Knoble, a WVU freshman and one-time East Dale student, used his technical expertise to help arrange the "learn-at-home" setup. He's a graduate of East Fairmont High School in the Class of 2000.
Peduto said that young Knoble then got the idea of fixing it so that his mother could "attend the classes" from her home in Pleasant Valley. Linda Knoble is a former East Dale teacher who was forced to take disability retirement three years ago.
"He wanted to set it up so she could see and hear everything that we are doing here," she said.
Knoble said he used Microsoft's Internet video conferencing software to arrange for the homebound learning.
"It allows us to broadcast on this end, video and audio, and my mother and Mr. Patrick can receive it on the Internet in their homes," he said.
Young Knoble said he is "usually involved in a lot of things they have at East Dale."
He says it took him around three days "to get everything put together and running. We had to get a camera put in. . . They're using a 12-foot computer screen. This camera will pick up what they're doing and transmit the audio and broadcast it to the individuals at home. It's called NetMeeting.
"We're hoping that after this class, she (his mother) can use the computer more often and become more confident with it and find it not so intimidating," he said.
Linda Knoble said she has always been aware of how beneficial these classes are to adults but was never able to take them.
"I know some things about computers, but probably not all I should know, especially since my son is so very, very good with them.
"So since he has made this assessable to people who are disadvantaged, I was real excited about being able to participate at home," she said. "Anything Michael can do to make things easier for people with disabilities pleases him."
"I taught for 24 years. . . I was there when the school opened," she said in reference to East Dale. "I've felt the interest and the access I'm getting through this computer will be good for me."
"Isn't this wonderful?" camp director Diane Burnside asked rhetorically. "Donna and I feel that if you keep somebody's mind active, the body will respond. That's the reason we're doing what we're doing."
She noted what a moving moment it was for the class members at East Dale when Walter Patrick sent his first e-mail back to the class.
She said that "every
year we seem to have something new that comes along. . .And we've got a
good support group. People like Michael Knoble. . .Student helpers. . .
Marion County teachers. . .A lot of people who make it happen. This keeps
our minds active, too."