Onekama Schools make improvements in technology

ONEKAMA — Technology in school systems is changing at such a rapid pace that many school districts struggle to stay at the top of their game to make sure all opportunities are

Onekama Consolidated Schools received many improvements in technology over the summer that will help students in their studies. (File photo)

Onekama Consolidated Schools received many improvements in technology over the summer that will help students in their studies. (File photo)

being presented to their students.

At Onekama Consolidated Schools, superintendent Kevin Hughes told his board of education that during the summer they made some changes that should keep the district with the very latest technology in the hands of their students.

“We made a lot of technology changes over the summer months,” said Hughes. “The teachers and students are going to have many more things that will help them in the classroom.”

The technology staff at the Manistee Intermediate School District under the direction of Roy Anciso worked over the summer months using funds from the Sinking Fund voters passed on May 2 to make those changes. Anciso said the improvements are going to open many doors in terms of educational opportunities for the students.

“We made some infrastructure updates on their back end for switching and networking,” said Anciso. “We upgraded their core network infrastructure from 1 Gig to 10 Gig which is a tenfold increase in capacity, so it will help support things like additional WiFi, video surveillance, phones audio equipment and anything that requires a connection to the network.”

Anciso said each port provides power, so with one cable it is possible to power and connect each device.

“That was a major project we did over the summer as each of their wiring closets have been upgraded to include switches that can handle a variety of devices right from the network,” said Anciso. “With the tech co-op we try to get different ways of adding value to the school districts we serve.”

He also told the board how the video surveillance system was upgraded as they use a hybrid system where the schools can continue to use their existing camera and cabling system.

“What we do is convert that signal into internet protocol (IP) and we then shoot that video coverage over the ISD where it is stored,” said Anciso. “We do this for all the schools in the county and what we did at Onekama was convert their existing older analog system to IP and in addition to that we added some high definition high based cameras to the campus.”

Anciso said they are using WiFi to beam the signal from the cameras in the parking lot to the building and then over to the ISD where it can be reviewed.

“This system is completely web based so in the case that there is an event that needs to be reviewed or some sort of issue that needs to be resolved you are not fumbling around for software on your computer,” he said. “You just go to the website log in and go to the camera,” said Anciso. “It is possible to do this from any device.”

Anciso said that in the future he can see law enforcement getting access to make it quicker for them to get that video.

Another subject Anciso touched on was the new Smart Boards that the district added in the classrooms.

“They are truly amazing with massive 75-inch touch screens which will replace overhead projectors and older smart systems,” said Anciso. “There is built in screen sharing which works with anything. You can bring in a Mac computer and just start screen sharing with it without having to have Apple TV or a Chrome Cast device.”

Hughes agreed that the Smart Boards will change the way their teachers operate.

“Those are really nice and they do a lot of things,” he said.

The Smart Boards are designed to replace White Boards and it is possible to be drawn on. The Smart Boards are also able to have the materials erased that were drawn on by making a fist with a hand and rubbing it out.

“The system senses that is the erase gesture and it will start removing what is drawn on the board,” said Anciso. “It also allows the kids to participate through an application from their devices. It’s an amazing piece of technology and will be great for instruction. We have heard nothing but good things about it.”

Hughes said another area where they added technology is a new system that will allow teachers the chance to have their voices amplified in the classroom.

“We got that now in all our classrooms that will help the students be able to hear the teachers better,” said Hughes.

Anciso said they are piloting Chromebook lap tops for the fifth and sixth grade students and they added iPad Pros that come with an Apple pen and allows students to draw and create art on them.

“It makes for an amazing device to draw on,” said Anciso.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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