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Darien Schools To Try Out Advanced Technologies

DARIEN, Conn. – The Darien schools are looking into the educational possibilities of such popular technologies as iPads and eReaders. A budget proposal calls for a small learning lab for teachers to try out new technology, as well as iPads and eReaders for each school library that students could check out.

A dozen iPads and a dozen eReaders for each school, as well as eBook subscriptions, would cost $58,200. The learning lab for teachers would allow them to explore the educational possibilities of different technologies and would include items such as tablets, SMART document cameras, interactive pen tools, interactive projectors and touch screens. This would cost a total of $7,000.

Christina Hefele, technology and data coordinator for Darien schools, said many teachers have requested iPads.

“We always go back and say, ‘What are we going to do with it?’” she said. “How are we going to use it? How is it going to impact teaching and learning? The lab would allow teachers to participate and develop a plan before purchase.”

Hefele has spoken with other districts that rushed into purchasing iPads for every student, thinking that it would remove the cost of textbooks. However, districts found that they still had to buy textbooks because some were available only in the physical form.

“I feel like districts that have moved too fast with tablets and eReaders made some costly mistakes, and didn’t really know the implications of those purchases.”

Hefele said the district would add 25 SMART Boards at Middlesex Middle School, based on how the technology's popularity at the elementary level. This would cost $50,000 and is part of a three-year plan to add SMART Boards to all Middlesex classrooms.

She also recommended that the elementary schools spend $18,000 to add adjustable mounts to their SMART Boards, so little children would be able to reach them.

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