Search Google for “Technology Integration” and you get nearly 2.8 million hits.
Search Google for “Technology Infusion” and you get more than 66,000 hits.
Search Google for “Technology Immersion” and you get more than 25,000 hits.
Based on this piece of admittedly non-scientific evidence, integration is still the operational zone of many, even though we’re 13 years into the 21st century.
Among the 25,000 hits for immersion are articles that are really about integration. There are articles that suggest technology immersion doesn’t make much of a difference in students’ test scores. There are articles that revel in the fact that students beg to “use technologies” daily. Very few articles had anything close to what I think Technology Immersion is; though, I did not read all 25,000 entries.
Not sure what I’m really talking about here? Let me explain:
Integration is the equivalent of putting your toes in the water. Infusion is wading. Immersion is swimming. There’s still a lot of integration going on in schools under the guise of 21st-century preparation.
Immersion is where we need to be, or at least be actively working toward.
While I realize that cost and infrastructure are issues in many schools, technology integration just isn’t cutting it anymore if we are really going to prepare kids for the world they will graduate into, or even the world they live in now.
In the article I mentioned above about technology immersion not making much of a difference in test scores, I wondered if the students were immersed in technologies for the school year, then assessed with pencil and paper? #notawesome
With technology immersion, the instruction and the assessments naturally and authentically involve technology at all times, as if it were the new pencil or a piece of paper. Immersion is hinged on student choice and represents modern learning moments that are a reflection of the way that students live with technology right now. I realize there are equity issues for different types of technologies, but let’s be honest, a whole lot of students use more technology outside of school than they do in school. (And many times, that technology is just sitting in their pockets.) Also, this begs the question of filtering at school, though I’ve addressed that before.
With integration, instruction is often tool-specific or dependent. With immersion, the task is the focus. Infusion falls somewhere in between. The “begging to use technology” article above is more likely an infusion event, though it looks as though all the pieces are there for an easy upgrade to immersion-level practice.
With all the instructional shifts happening nationwide with new standards and assessments on the horizon, the shift to technology immersion needs to happen sooner rather than later.
If you’re looking for how to engage the shift to immersion in your own schools or classroom, you could try the following:
- The Florida Center for Instructional Technology’s Technology Integration Matrix addresses infusion specifically and includes a “transformational” zone that, combined with the “authentic” and “goal-directed” zones, are exactly where I think immersion lives.
- You could also look to the explanation and visual for the Transformation Matrix from a book I co-authored with Janet Hale. The link goes to the preview page where you can read chapter one online.
As ever, I am looking for what’s best for kids. I’m looking for moments that are less about excuses than they are about actions. I realize that there are limitations for doing what I’m suggesting, but perhaps the conversation could shift to overcoming those limitations, those roadblocks, in efforts to prepare our students to be globally connected, articulate citizens who not only use technology, but are fluent with it.
Mike Fisher (@fisher1000) has more than a decade of classroom and professional-development experience. He is a full-time educational consultant and instructional coach and works primarily with school districts to integrate the Common Core State Standards, make data-informed instructional decisions, sustain their curriculum mapping initiatives and immerse instructional technology. Learn more at The Digigogy Collaborative or on his blog.