Tech Integration: the importance of invisibility

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 7.52.10 AMShould we adopt a BYOD model where students bring their own devices to class or a 1:1 program where the school provides each student with one tablet? Before making the investment in technology, I believe there are some important points to consider.

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 7.52.24 AM

I start our reflection with a quote by Chris Lehman (2010), where he says: “Technology should be like oxygen: ubiquitous, necessary and invisible.” And what does he mean by that? We can’t see oxygen, but it’s everywhere. We breathe in and out and don’t even notice it. However, it’s vital to us and breathing  is part of our lives; it’s natural to us.

Chris Lehman’s quote is mentioned by Warshchauer (2011) when he describes the result of his research in several American Schools. His objective was to observe how different schools have been integrating technology to classes. According to the author, the most successful examples of tech integration shared some common characteristics:

1. Computers and other digital devices were present in the classroom all the time and were used on a regular basis as a natural tool for learning, like the books, pens and notebooks.

2. The technology activities were not a special treat carried out once in a while, but were part of the classroom routine.

3. Classes were not devised around technology use, but technology came into play when it was needed.

These are examples of technology being ubiquitous because it was available all the time, necessary because it was used when teachers and students felt it was needed and invisible because technology use was a natural procedure.

Bearing these authors in mind, let’s consider the way some schools have been adopting the 1:1 model. Due to the high price of tablets, many schools don’t have the means to purchase a big amount of devices, let alone one tablet per student. Consequently, the investment is usually one or two sets of twenty tablets for the whole school. For a school with five hundred students, this would mean rare occasions of accessibility to the devices and a very slim chance of incorporating technology to classes. I dare say, technology is far from being invisible.

Considering the importance of technology invisibility, these are some of the questions we could ask ourselves:

– How invisible has technology been in our classes?

– By using digital devices only on special occasions, can we be losing the focus?

– Have we been planning our lessons around technology use or is technology being used to facilitate learning?

A final question I propose for reflection and a starting point for my future post is: “HOW can technology become invisible?”



LEHMAN, C. (2010) Science Leadership Academy, speaks at TED. Retrieved April, 2014, from

WARSCHAUER, M. (2011) Learning in the Cloud: How (and Why) to Transform Schools with Digital Media. Teacher College Press: New York.


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Ana Maria Menezes

Ana Maria Menezes is an EFL teacher, technology coordinator at Cultura Inglesa Uberlândia, online moderator, researcher and teacher developer in Brazil. She holds an M.A. in Linguistic Studies with special interest in teacher development in online environments. She blogs at, where she writes about educational technologies.

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