Integration

The question seemed easy enough, “What is technology integration and how does it work?”

Hmmmm.

Integration: (noun) the act of combining or adding parts to make a unified whole, the act of amalgamating a racial or religious group with an existing community.

No argument there, right? I remember having a discussion with a group of educators in 2001 while teaching in St. Louis. I expressed the (naive) opinion that I would like my students to be “color blind.” In an ideal world we treat others with respect regardless of their differences. In fact, we don’t necessarily even notice the differences. It is Johnny. Suzie. Buford. Not “Johnny the Vietnamese-American, Suzie the sight impaired or Buford the little person.”

One of the members of our group objected vehemently to the idea that integration/multi-culturalism should lead to a unified whole. The notion of the great “American Melting Pot” has been replaced with, “America, The Great Speckled Bird.” He said that he did not want students who were “color-blind,” but instead, students who appreciate the separate uniqueness in other students. In fact, he found my idea of color-blind students to be very insulting.

So much for a simple discussion about integration.

Defining technology integration, while not carrying the same deep emotions as racial integration, is no easier to nail down. A cursory examination of tech integration as defined in Education World (it’s the Educator’s Best Friend, in case you didn’t know), made it sound as simple as using a variety of different web pages. Really?

Edutopia had an article on tech integration that included the use of digital microscopes, handheld devices, smartboards, laptops and digital storytelling. Closer…but this still seems cursory to me.

Upon deeper reflection, I think I’m going with a definition that is closer to the one I voiced in my previous discussion on multi-cultural education. Ideally, Technology Integration isn’t even noticed. In other words, the teacher gives an assignment, students respond to the assignment with a huge variety of digital and non-digital tools. They use tools that convey their learning most effectively. No one says, “Hey, where is the powerpoint presentation? Where is your rss feed?” The tech integration is so “real” and seamless that it becomes a non-issue. It would be like Paper Integration in the classrooms of the 80’s. Or Chalkboard Integration in 1950.

Which causes me to wonder, what will be the next “Integration?”

Holographic Integration? “Class, today Johnny’s Grandma is going to appear in our midst and tell us about her life without a television.”

Robotic Integration? {in monotone} “Class, please wirelessly transfer your homework file to the server located in my brain.”

Teleportation Integration? “Class, today we’re GOING TO Egypt.”

Could be pretty cool.

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About Dan Long

Living and working on the world's most beautiful island.
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