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Digital Learning Event showcases iPads in Farmington classrooms

This takes “Show and Tell” to a whole different level.

On Wednesday, Dec. 4, the Farmington School District will hold its first Digital Learning Event. Teachers and principals from around the state will come to Farmington to learn how students are learning with iPads.

Farmington staff have fielded a lot of questions about how iPads are used in the schools since giving the tablets to every student in the district last year. There have been so many requests from educators outside the district who want to see how the iPads are being used that they have almost become disruptive to class time, Farmington head of instructional technology Dan Pickens said.

“This thing with the iPads was starting to take a life of its own,” Pickens said. “It seemed like we were getting requests from other districts wanting to know what we were doing here every week.”

Farmington is also in a unique position, in that District 192 is the first in the state to give iPads to all of its students. School officials knew ISD 192 was entering a new direction in educating students, Pickens said. They also figured there would be a few inquiries from outside educators along the way.

They just didn’t expect quite so many.

“It didn’t dawn on us to hold anything formal at the time,” Pickens said. “We didn’t realize how many districts were going to be saying, ‘Hey, we want to learn more.’”

Other districts use technology in the classroom. Students have Nooks or Kindle readers, and many have iPads or similar tablets. What Pickens is hearing, though, is that many school districts are still trying to formulate a plan on how to integrate those types of devices into everyday learning for every student.

And so they look to Farmington’s program.

Pickens scheduled the Fall Digital Learning Event to bring more outside teachers and educators to Farmington for a one-day training session. Initially, he opened it to a roster of 50, and he wasn’t even sure that many would register.

As of Monday, 105 people were registered for the event. Those educators represent 16 school districts from around the state.

“It’s getting pretty popular, and we’re getting pretty excited,” he said.


The Digital Learning Event will start with all of the visiting faculty gathering at Boeckman Middle School for an introduction to Farmington’s program. Once the introduction is done, the visitors will be able to spend a little time going into classrooms around the district, and watching how District 192 teachers use technology to teach students.

When they registered, the visiting faculty was asked if they wanted to focus on elementary or secondary education, Pickens said. Those who chose elementary schools will visit two elementaries — one in the morning session and on in the afternoon session. Those who chose to visit secondary classes will also visit two schools. They’ll visit four classrooms during the day.

“We’re getting people into classrooms so they can see what’s going on, and they can see firsthand how we use technology in the classrooms,” Pickens said.

During lunch, several Farmington students will give demonstrations of projects they have done on their iPads, Pickens added.

“There are principals coming from other districts too, so they will get a chance to visit with our principals. For instance, (Dodge Middle School principal) Chris Bussman will be talking about setting guidelines and expectations at the school,” Pickens said.

Because the day is all about technology in the classrooms, organizers have even given the event its own hashtag — #192DLevent — so all of the tweets associated with the day can be found in the same place on Twitter.

Another Digital Learning Event will be planned this spring, Pickens said.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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