The height of SAMR

In my most recent post I outlined the first part of the SAMR model, which I used as a lens to explore the integration of new technologies into education. The first two levels, substitution and augmentation are often referred to as low levels of technology integration, in as much as they do not substantially impact upon or transform pedagogy. Arguably the third and fourth levels, modification and redefinition are transformational, because they imply the technology can create opportunities for learning that were previously unavailable or inconceivable.

Modification represents a significant functional change in learning, and some technologies can offer this if applied appropriately. Blogging for example, provides students with a potentially very large audience for their writing. Previously, essay writing was for an audience of one - the teacher/assessor. Now the affordances of blogging can gain large audiences who are often willing to comment and feedback on the quality, significance and meaning of the post. The results of a number of research studies suggest that students tend to raise their games, and write more concisely, accurately and circumspectly, researching and editing their blog posts to maximise their work.  

Redefinition is characterised by the use of technologies that radically redefine one or more aspects of learning. To be featured in this category, technology should create learning opportunities that were previously unattainable or even unthinkable. The capabilities of social media to give students their own publishing or broadcasting platform has prompted an exponential rise in user generated content. Learning through making was always an option in the traditional classroom, but learning through making that can be interactive, reiterated, linked and connected to other artefacts, embedded and repurposed, and generally propagated across a variety of media, is a huge step forward for education.

Some find the SAMR model unwieldy or lacking in substance, and there has been criticism of its simplicity and also in regard to its ambiguity. Notwithstanding, I feel SAMR has something to contribute to our understanding of technology integration and I particularly like Amy Burvall's reframing of the SAMR model, which she has illustrated in her inimitable style.

All of this is futile though, if teachers miss the opportunities to situate learning in real contexts. Technology must be appropriately deployed. A key stage in any successful technology integration is to ensure that the affordances of new technologies are exploited by students for authentic learning outcomes and leveraged to be extensions of their natural cognitive and physical capabilities.  

Photo by Jim Cianca on Wikimedia Commons

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The height of SAMR by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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