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Editorial: Tech upgrade should benefit students

There will probably be people who see the Farmington School District's plan to commit more than $5 million over five years to improve technology districtwide and wonder why it is necessary. We didn't have fancy projectors and computers when I went through school, the argument always seems to go, so why should kids today?

The argument isn't entirely wrong. With good teachers and the right circumstances students should be able to learn whether classrooms have high-tech smart boards or low-tech slates.

But the argument is also shortsighted. These are very different times for learners, and for teachers. Kids today have grown up with technology. It seems like they're learning to navigate iPods and computers almost as soon as they've learned to walk. Students respond to technology in a way they don't always to traditional lessons.

Used correctly, technology can create the kind of immersive lessons that get students' attention and hold their interest. It only works if the technology is used correctly, though, so it will be important for the district to make sure teachers know how to use the resources that will be available to them. There's no benefit to having a fancy projector mounted to the ceiling or a schoolwide network of computers if they never get turned on.

This technology can benefit teachers as well. Used correctly -- there's that phrase again -- it can streamline lesson preparation and open up new avenues of instruction.

There was some concern expressed Monday that by using bonds originally set aside for a sixth elementary school the district will spend 20 years paying for equipment that will be obsolete long before the final bill is paid. It's not an ideal situation, obviously. But neither is missing out on opportunities because the necessary equipment is not available.

The district cannot simply purchase technology for the sake of getting the latest toys. Board members said more than once Monday that Farmington schools are falling behind schools in neighboring districts when it comes to the availability of instructional technology. That by itself is not reason enough to spend the kind of money under consideration here. But it appears the district has done its homework, and that it will continue to do so as technology changes and new opportunities arise.

We look forward to seeing what new doors this technology opens.