SAMR- Meeting needs

Most often two processes, auditory and visual come into play for learning to take place. The information is received and processed cognitively to create knowledge structures.

With the past paced growth of technology in the field of education, it is now becoming more and more important to decide and select the ed tech tools that best support our processes, needs and requirements, keeping in mind those of our learners. Most of the time we use tech as a knee jerk reaction to changing times or because we think it would be interesting.

But before we decide to use a tech tool we must try and analyse its use, purpose and how it would support learning for students.

Let me borrow the analogy of waves and tides or currents from Marina Gorbis, (Five principles for thinking like a futurist). The apps and tools available to us are like waves, they keep coming, we engage with them and then another one comes up or the first one disappears. Waves are what we see at the surface and tides or currents are what causes these waves. So, while these apps may be waves and we may think that we can stand on the side and observe them, the fact is that the tide of technology is there, and it will only gather momentum.

What I mean here is that use of tech in education is a given. We cannot escape it. So instead of dipping our feet into the tech pool every now and then or watching it from the sidelines, it is important to understand how, what and when we can use tech to enrich the learning experience of our learners.

So, how do we therefore decide how to integrate technology in teaching and learning?

Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition (S A M R) model, popularized by Ruben Puentedura, helps us make informed choices about the use technology to support student learning or improve our own efficiency. You can hear him explain SAMR here.

It is not about just using technology but when and what to use in our context. Using the SAMR model might help us to navigate better.

Ruben Peuntedura’s model: SAMR

Substitution: Technology is used as a direct substitute with no functional improvement. For example, replacing power point slides with google slides, or a word document in place of a notebook.

Augmentation: Tech acts as a direct tool substitute, with functional improvement. The students create their digital notes using notepad, or word document and then share the same through google doc or One Note for collaborative action. Another example, teachers assigning all the tasks, notes, etc. to their next class with a click of a button, instead of recreating every thing from scratch, or diving through her hard copies, retrieving what she wants, and getting them printed etc.!

Modification: Tech allows for significant task design. How do we use tech to redesign learning? For example, students can use Quizlet to make their own custom study sets such as flash cards. Teacher can make for the students or archive them to a class portal where all flashcards created become a central repository for practice.

Redefinition: Tech allow for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable. Students can record feedback given by the teacher and then play it back as they sit down to re-work on their assignment, dance or theater or sports students can record their performance and then analysis it with their peers.

Ruben Peuntedura, further explains the link between blooms and SAMR, extending the teachers thinking to how the two models can be integrated and not used in isolation. You can read more about this here.

Ruben Peundura’s model of integration between SAMR and Bloom’s taxonomy.

Therefore, what is needed is to curb our tendency to use tech in the same old way but use it to redefine teaching and learning.

Take care to avoid the Everest Syndrome– The urge to embrace new instructional technology just because it’s there.

– Dave Merrill


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