October 30th, 2011
I started working seriously with educational technology 25 years ago, I have
read and heard the word "integration." Usually, the phrase is
"technology integration." We've heard and read that phrase so
long, it's become a cornerstone about how we deal with technology in
education. It's only when one stops to analyze the term that the
absurdity of the phrase becomes apparent: to "integrate"
something implies that whatever you're integrating into remains the same.
We are implying by the phrase "technology integration" that education
will remain unchanged and that only technology will change -- it will be forced
to adapt to the current educational system. This might be a comforting
notion: nothing will really change because technology will just serve our
current system. But this notion is delusional. If we are to use the
word "integration" regarding technology and education, it makes far
more sense to say "education integration" because it is education
that is changing. Education is trying to integrate into the
technology-enabled knowledge culture and knowledge economy.
"Education integration" has hardly begun at most institutions of
A simple analogy: automobiles became popular in the 1910s -- 1910 to
1920. But, for many enthusiasts who were among the first in their town to
purchase an automobile, their enthusiasm waned quickly when they discovered
their automobiles did not work very well on the dirt roads of the time.
The brand new automobiles sat in garages or made short trips to the general
store, consigned to the role of oddity instead of the "automobility"
role they were supposed to fill.
A highway system had to be built along with establishing laws, enforcement,
street lights, commonly recognized road signs and the entire infrastructure for
cars that took us decades to build. The nation had to integrate itself to
the needs of the car.
Just so, educators are beginning to realize that technology is perhaps the most
transformative technology humans have ever created. Education's entire
design, business model, and culture must evolve to integrate into the world as
it is now. It is education that must integrate, not technology.