Integration – Understanding Words In Context

A few folks (also Warlick) have recently used their blogs to comment on “integrating technology.” We have used this term in our writing for the past dozen years or so and end up being attracted to posts that focus on some of our key “memes.” After reading the recent posts I came away very disappointed.

Here’s the thing: If we’re only trying to integrate technology, then we’re using it for the sake of using it. In that case, the goal is job training, which is an absolutely inane idea because schools will never be able to keep up with broader society and businesses driven by markets and money. Inevitably, schools will be left wallowing, desperately struggling to keep their “integration” relevant (from “Integration – the term of the enemy” – Teacher’s Writes which I admit is nearly as clever a blog title as Learning Aloud).

It is not that I do not agree with the underlying sentiment of these posts. I would argue that the key variable is what students do with technology not what teachers do. However, this distinction (teacher use vs. student use) seems to have nearly opposite meaning for how these linked bloggers and I interpret the meaning of technologyintegration.

We all attach our own meaning to words – it is a constructivist thing I suppose. In our work, we use integration in a different way – Integrating Technology for Meaningful Learning, Integrating the Internet for Meaningful Learning. Integration implies a process and the keys for interpretation are undefined – what is integrated by whom within what? Our focus is on what students do with technology and we assume students can use technology to meaningfully learn the content topics they have previously been required to address in other ways. The assumption in some of the other posts is that students are being asked to develop tech literacy (not a bad thing, but not the same thing as applying technology tools to understanding more traditional content) or that instructors are using technology tools to do their own personal work (also not a bad thing).

I would hate to have folks out there ganging up on a defenseless word so I felt the need to step in and defend “integration’s” good name. 😉

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