In light of MBA’s 150-year history, the emergence of technology on campus is a relatively new development. MBA has embraced new technologies by blending the advantages of a digital world with a classical curriculum – a challenge eagerly accepted among the faculty, staff, and students. In 1994 an entrepreneurial 9th grader requested permission to build the school’s first web server and web site complete with e-mail and web space for all faculty and students.
Montgomery Bell Academy is committed to providing a learning environment which is equipped to promote the development of skills that will be useful for students entering a world that becomes increasingly dependent on technology.
In order to support our goal of providing opportunities to achieve academically with the appropriate use of technology, MBA works to ensure that suitable technology is available, that students and faculty have the ability to use it, and that the environment in which it is used is conducive to learning.
With technology changing so rapidly, MBA has created a vision which focuses on teaching and learning excellence, student success, professional development, infrastructure development, and resource management.
The quality of instruction and learning is paramount at MBA, and the IT department works to provide a reliable information technology infrastructure, appropriate technology, and user support in the academic environment. We currently use a web-based academic management system, Blackbaud, which allows faculty, staff, students, and parents to access information in one location. Assignments, grades, and comments are available from any location via an Internet connection, and the ability to quickly determine the progress of a student is easily accomplished. This system integrates seamlessly with our website via Scholar, which allows all school information to be viewed at the same time with a single logon.
Students in 7th grade are required to take a quarter long class which ensures that a basic level of familiarity with technology is achieved. Student activities include, but are not limited to, keyboarding, word processing, presentations, social media, and web page creation. Students in 8th grade are required to take a quarter long course in research and communication which provides an opportunity to access online databases and improve their ability to find information using the Internet.
MBA does not have a one-to-one laptop program, but does allow students to bring their personal laptops to campus and access the wireless network provided for their class year to access the Internet. Approximately 95% of our students have taken advantage of this offering and registered their laptops with the technology office.
Our campus provides students who do not own a personal laptop many ways to access online information. Three computer labs, library computer access, and an iPad checkout system are the most commonly used means to do so. MBA’s digital language lab and science building, with an average of eight desktops per classroom, are also available for student use during the day.
Students and teachers alike have not been shy about adopting new technology in their classroom, and the freedom to try and use different products in each has created a culture of technological and academic collaboration that has been beneficial to our academic environment. As new technologies continue to emerge, we expect this to continue and the IT department will support the diverse range of applications that faculty wish to use to educate their students.
Every classroom at MBA is equipped with an overhead digital projector, and all faculty are issued a new laptop which they use for a four year cycle. Many faculty, with technology or academic department funds, purchase additional items to personalize their means of instruction.
MBA has made great progress in the area of infrastructure development over the last five years, and continually works to update and maintain the technology infrastructure. We recently upgraded from a 100MB copper circuit to a fiber circuit capable of 1GB. Internet traffic entering our campus now passes through a Cisco router, redundant Juniper firewalls, and Barracuda Spam, Virus, and Web Filters. MBA has 90 wireless access points and the twelve buildings on campus are interconnected via multi-mode fiber optic cable, each routing traffic at 1GB speeds to all classrooms and offices through Juniper switches. The infrastructure provides the bandwidth necessary to work effectively throughout the school day, and information stored on any of our servers can be quickly accessed.
The IT department at MBA works hard to stay on the leading edge, and our ultimate goal is to provide always-on technology to enhance student success and readiness. The future of technology at MBA is exciting and holds great promise.