Mindful Technology Integration
As time goes by, I often find myself overwhelmed with the amount of new apps, web sites, gizmos and gadgets that are released. How does one decide which to use? Which will be most effective? Should we even use them all? Luckily, there is a model for technology integration that helps teachers figure out the best uses of technology in their classrooms in order to transform learning. Dr. Ruben Puentedura developed it and it is known as the SAMR model.
A technology tool that is employed at the substitution level is a direct replacement for something that is already done. A great example of this is switching from a physical book to a scanned PDF copy of the same book. There is little or no functional improvement with this change.
At the augmentation level, technology is a direct substitution for the old tool, but now there are functional improvements. In our book scenario, instead of a scanned PDF, all the books are given to the students in iBooks on an iPad. Now they can save weight in their backpacks, highlight passages (and keep track of where they are), underline and more; activities that were not possible with books checked out to them each year.
When technology is applied at the modification level it allows for a significant redesign of the task at hand. Think about a digital book that has sections with content that is added from around the students’ homes (i.e., loading pictures submitted by students) or having examples in the book come from live data on the web.
At this level, the technology tools allow for tasks that were previously impossible. In our example, this means the students are becoming the producers of information, not just the consumer. Students are now able to create and publish their own books about the topic.
When incorporating technology into the classroom, we should strive to incorporate technology tools so as to have a transformational impact on learning. In the SAMR model, our goal is to apply technology where it modifies and redefines the activities we do with students. We want to be ‘above the line’ as shown in the graphic. This does not happen overnight. One should think about the SAMR model as a continuum that starts with substitution and moves towards redefinition. Technology should be applied when and where it can move an activity to the next level.