Integration, "is an act or instance of combining into an integral whole, " by the definition provided by dictionary.com. However, what does integration mean to education today? After a conversation I had with a friend last week in my opinion, integration has come full circle in the world of education...
Last week as I sat having dinner and conversing with a friend she began to ask about how I was coming along in my Teacher Ed. program here at the university, (by the way my friend is nearing sixty while I am still early twenties, to paint a better picture). Well, as I began to talk about my different class in theory and practice, psychology, and special education, eventually we got to talking about my technology class. I started to tell her how the main idea now behind technology in the classroom is integration, meaning that using only power points and word processors are not enough anymore. Now we have Web 2.0 tools involving all web-based content such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, social bookmarking, EPALS, etc.
This was all very new to my friend and she started reminiscing about her days in high school, which would have been in the late 1960s in East Tennessee. But what surprised me was that she loved the new concepts that I was telling her about. She mentioned her seven year old granddaughter and how the girl is always on top of the latest technology gadget and teaches her about the Internet, so it makes perfect sense to need to push for more technology use in the school, because how else can you keep kids attention nowadays???? I laughed telling her how I agree with her point exactly, but sadly not every educator out there does, especially educators with many years of experience getting good results using older methods.
Thus, we continued this topic about integration and specific ways and examples to really integrate in the classroom. Through the end of our conversation she started to laugh, which probed me to ask what she was thinking about, getting an answer that really started to make me think about how the word integration has changed in education. My friend said, looking back to her high school days they also had integration in their classroom but, then in the 1960s it was not technology but the integration of blacks and whites together in her school for the first time!
Wow, was my immediate thought, look how far our world has come that now, about forty years later it is time to integrate again in our schools! However, this time it is not of different races, but instead of new technology!
Therefore, this conversation left me thinking about how much the concept of integration in the classroom has changed through the years,and always for the better. In my opinion, now is the time for more educators to embrace the new concept of integration, if only on the grounds to keep that one kids attention a little longer in class, instead of finding that student gone to another world by listening to a podcast on his ipod.