Manila Schools embrace technology

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

MANILA, AR (KAIT) - The Manila schools are Hi-Tech from Smart Boards and Smart Tables , Elmos and the latest in educational software.

At one time the overhead projector was about as high tech as a school might get. Now technology is as firmly entrenched in a classroom as a chalkboard used to be.

In just sheer numbers of computers alone things have certainly changed in the past several years for Jason Baltimore the Technology Coordinator for the Manila School District.

"We had a hundred when I came here we have 550 roughly 559, they are all networked ." he said.

In nearly every classroom Smart  technology is everywhere. Tracy Milligan's math class uses handheld clickers and a smart board to augment a paper test. Instead of getting out a pencil and pad, students use something that reminds you of a television remote.

Milligan, "Instead of me taking a few days to have it graded myself and get it back we all get immediate results and we can quickly go over the ones we've missed as a class." Milligan says she can instantly know who has completed the work or not. And she says kids that may not raise a hand because of shyness have no hesitation in using the clickers.

With so many Smart devices in use, teachers can surf the net for tests and lessons.  Baltimore says many teachers post lessons and tests in the SMART exchange.

Baltimore, "All different educators from across the country where they go in and put different tests and they can use those as well."

The district has 6 different computer labs, computers in the library, and laptops in the Gifted and talented program classroom. G & T teacher Tim Bassing says we as a whole have to embrace and learn how to use technology. "Those that don't;" he says, "Will be left behind."

Even the cafeteria has new technology. The "Mealmaster" plan has been around for several years but with the cafeteria expansion last year due to new construction more technology was needed.

Baltimore, "This is the latest technology for them using the laptops scanners and barcode readers." Students also use a key pad to type in payments and pay for meals.

No doubt the most fun anyone has with technology is in Kindergarten. Mrs. Baltimore's class was using the SMART board, the SMART Table and the Front Row voice amplification system. In fact nearly every teacher we encountered has this Pharoh like object hanging around their necks. They can go from classroom to classroom and even notify riders from the outside of the building.

Mrs. Baltimore says she can speak to every corner of the room from the wall mounted speaker.

"If I turn my back, they can still hear me just as well as if I was facing them. Even the ones that might have hearing trouble can hear me."

Due to a recent bandwidth increase teachers are now able to access video off the net. They now find they can use YouTube to educate with. Mitzi Adcock says you can learn all kinds of things, such as the feeding habits of the Venus Flytrap.

Adcock, "We were able to pull up on YouTube how the plants were able to eat their bugs or whatever."

In Contemporary History they use IPads to watch historic videos. Teacher LeAnn Helms says accessing the net is important for historic purposes.

Helms, "We were able to watch the first episode of "The Price is Right" and compare it and then we were able to watch one of the first "Flintstones" of the 60's and then compare it with the cartoons of today."

There has been such a blend of technology into the school system that it's no more or less important in a science class than a literature class. Senior Holly Braden says every year since she has been in school the amount of technology has increased.

"Instead of handwriting pages and pages of notes it's all up in front of our eyes where everyone can see it at the same time. " Braden says. "So now if we had to it would be strange not to use the technology."

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