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New laptops may open opportunities for teachers

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education Farmington, 55024
Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

Last summer, teachers in the Farmington School District got new iPads to use in the classroom. This summer, several of those teachers will get new computers the Farmington School Board hopes will make the tablets even more effective.

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The school board voted at a Monday night work session to approve the lease of 200 new MacBook Pro laptops that will replace aging Windows desktops for several teachers who are prepared to take advantage of some new opportunities the iPads offer.

Charles Duarte, the district's head of instructional technology, said the new computers, in addition to being portable so teachers can use them at home, allow one distinct advantage over the Windows machines they will replace: They allow teachers to author electronic iBooks they can use as part of their lessons.

"This is the next natural step for us," Duarte said.

The district took some steps toward iBook authoring during the school year that just ended. There were 16 MacBooks available for teachers to check out and use. But Duarte said it was often hard for teachers to find the computers when they wanted them.

"Our supply has really not been enough for the demand," he said.

The district has targeted about 90 of the most frequent users of those computers to be early adopters with the new MacBooks. They will help work out the kinks of the new system early on, then other teachers will have the chance to apply for the remaining computers.

The district will not abandon Windows computers altogether. There will still be several in classrooms and in computer labs. That was a relief to board member Laura Beem, who supported the laptop purchase but pointed out that there are many office environments where a knowledge of Windows computers is required.

The four-year lease of the MacBooks will cost the district $220,816.

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