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New Farmington Institute provides tech lessons

iPads were a common sight at last week's Farmington Institute.

Since the Farmington School District started handing out iPads to its students last fall, the district's teachers have been discovering ways to put the tablet computers to the best use in the classroom. Last week, it was time to share.

On Thursday and Friday, the district held its first Farmington Institute, an educational seminar where teachers and others could study up on topics like making iMovies, writing electronic textbooks and keeping records. The presenters were all Farmington teachers and staff members. The audience included district staff as well as people from outside the district who were interested in what Farmington had learned as one of the first school districts in the state to put an iPad in every student's hands. District employees got in free to the Institute unless they wanted lunch. Visitors from outside the district paid a fee.

Farmington and its iPad rollout have been getting attention from other districts for months. Representatives from other districts are frequent visitors to Farmington schools. The institute sessions were a way to further spread the word about what Farmington has been up to.

"It was a great way to celebrate all the great work that's been done and really open the lines of communication," said Charles Duarte, the district's head of instructional technology. "It's really a celebration of the great work they've done this year to make things happen for kids."

About 25 of the 150 attendees on the institute's first day were from outside of the district. About 100 people attended the second day.

More than two dozen Farmington employees presented during the two-day institute.

Duarte said the institute sessions ran smoothly. Teachers sat in the desks their students occupied just a few days earlier and watched as colleagues ran through instructions on setting up forms in Google Docs or using iPads to get feedback from students.

There was good response from participants and presenters, Duarte said, and the district is already talking about bringing the institute back for another year.

"We are thinking of this as the first annual Farmington Institute," he said.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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