I’m guessing this question will percolate with me over the course of the next semester and find its way into the design of my upcoming lessons, but what does this mean for us as parents? How do we know our kids are getting the most from the technology in their classrooms? I don’t know about you, but with every school year, my own kids talk about all their new classroom gadgets, including Chromebooks and iPads and tablets. It sounds great, but what are the kids actually doing with all these tools?
I thought I’d introduce you to the SAMR model, developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, which provides a way for us to talk intelligently about technology implementation. The SAMR model outlines the increasing degrees of adoption, allowing for more meaningful uses of technology in teaching in order to move away from simply using technology for technology’s sake.
I hope this inspires us all to ask better questions of our educators, in turn, inspiring educators to want to experiment with technology and ask more of our kids.
S. Substitution. At its most basic level of implementation, technology is being used in the classroom as a direct tool substitute with no functional change in content, knowledge or instruction. In this level of adoption, if you walked into a classroom, you might see kids crafting an essay in a word processing program or students taking a multiple choice test by clicking a radio button in a testing program that displays the same test as the one being given in the classroom next door on a traditional bubble Scantron. Both of these tasks can be done the old-fashioned way -- the technology doesn’t add anything. It’s just a substitute.
A. Augmentation. The next level of technology sophistication acts as a direct tool substitute, but it also offers some functional improvement. Let’s take a look at those same two tasks: the essay and the test. With technology being used to augment, the student writing the essay could use the Internet to research MLA style, uncover evidence from current events, or even find textual support from online novels not available in hardcopy at the school. And for the exam, the students may take the multiple choice exam online, but be allowed two or three opportunities to get the right answer, providing immediate feedback, and a learning opportunity, for the students.
M. Modification. Now things start getting interesting. With modification, kids are learning from teachers who have significantly redesigned the tasks. When walking into this classroom, you will see the essay being written, designed and revised through online collaboration, blogs, discussion boards and video conferencing. And the exams will be more project based -- demonstrations and applications of learned content. Rather than selecting A, B or C as a right answer, the technology will be used to build a virtual model of DNA, a chemical reaction, a computer program, or a 3D sculpture.
R. Redefinition. This is the classroom I want my kids to experience -- the one that allows for the creation of new tasks previously inconceivable in the traditional classroom. Herein lies the power of technology. The students in this classroom potentially work collaboratively with students from other parts of the world to research global challenges, get creative to present findings of their research via video that they’ve filmed and edited, and think critically about the impact of this issue on the local community, building partnerships, designing new clubs, developing their strengths, and networking for internships. This classroom no longer looks like “the essay and the test” as we’ve seen in the others. The learning, rather, is applicable to real world, designed to connect content from all their classes, and built to be relevant beyond the classroom.
A classroom redesigned by technology is the one that exposes our kids to the interconnectedness of knowledge. This is technology in the real world.
This is education redefined.