Here comes the SAMR

In previous posts I articulated some thoughts on how technology can (and should) be integrated into education. In an initial post I argued that technology use is not the same as technology integration. Technology integration results in digital tools being embedded into learning, so that for example maker cultures emerge, or the classroom activities are flipped, supporting more effective pedagogies and improving student learning outcomes. Ultimately, technology should be integrated into education so that learning can be transformed. More recently I wrote that there are several kinds of technology, characterised by levels of manipulation which can offer powerful reflective learning and critical thinking opportunities. In this post I will use a tried and tested model of technology adoption as a theoretical lens to examine some of the most recent, emergent properties of technology integration.

The model known by its acronym SAMR - was first proposed by Ruben Puentedura and represents four increasingly complex layers of engagement. The first layer, Substitution, is characterised by teachers using new technologies in very much the same ways they used older, more familiar technologies. One example is when classrooms began to be equipped with interactive whiteboards (IWBs). In retrospect we know that many teachers had little time to learn how to use these new technologies effectively, so merely used them to write on and to display their slides, as though they were traditional chalk boards or projection screens. This was far from a genuine integration of technology into the learning process, and it led to little or no change in pedagogy, and an inertia that prevented transformation. Possibly, some teachers were also concerned about how to use IWBs effectively, or were anxious about having to learn something new, and so resorted to comfortable and familiar use.

The second level of the SAMR model is Augmentation, where new technologies not only replace older technologies, but in some way begin to alter the pedagogy or methods that are being used. To achieve this, the technology is not only required to have new affordances, these new affordances need to be recognised by teachers and then exploited in authentic contexts to enhance learning. Such an approach could result in deeper engagement of learners, an extension of their learning experience or an enhancement of their physical or cognitive capabilities. One low level example of augmentation would be the use of Google Docs to not only manipulate and save text (a wordprocessor can do this), but also to share a document with others so that collaborative writing is possible, in both synchronous and asynchronous modes (something a standard wordprocessor cannot do).

The third and fourth levels of the SAMR model - Modification and Redifinition - feature in my next blog post.

Photo by Steve Wheeler

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Here comes the SAMR by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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