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Editorial: Technology takes a leading role

The Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District is taking its time as it considers the future of technology in its classrooms. It put together a task force last year. This year it has what it’s calling beta teams to serve as a kind of high-tech guinea pig. And perhaps, somewhere down the line, it will put an iPad into the hands of nearly all of its students.

By comparison, the Farmington School District zipped through its implementation of a one-iPad-per student program. That is an advantage a district like Farmington has over one like ISD 196. It’s a lot easier to make a change that affects 6,000-some students than it is to make one that affects more than 20,000. It takes fewer resources to upgrade eight buildings to handle the wireless Internet demand those devices will create than it does to upgrade more than 30.

The process has worked out well for Farmington. Its early adoption of new teaching methods and new technologies has made it a model for districts around the state as they look at their own use of technology. That includes ISD 196.

In retrospect it seems like an obvious move to make. Technology like iPads, iPhones and other smart devices is becoming part of everyday life for students and teachers alike. That’s not likely to change anytime soon. Used correctly, such devices can open new doors for learning.

It’s important for a school district to implement these devices the right way. Use them to simply replace a textbook or administer a quiz and they’re of little real value. But use them to their full potential and they can make a dramatic difference in the way students learn.

It’s worth taking the time to get that part right.