Monday, October 28, 2013

Moving through SAMR

"Oh, pilot of the storm that leaves no trace, like thoughts inside a dream
Heed the path that led me to that place, yellow desert stream
My Shangri-La beneath the summer moon, I will return again
Like the dust that lufts high in June, when moving through Kashmir."
-Led Zepplin "Kashmir"

A recent series of events, posts, videos have led me to spend time thinking about Educators progressing through the SAMR model developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura.  Taking the advice of the Led Zeppelin song above I will "Heed the path that led me to that place..." and share a few of the resources that have pushed me down this path of inquiry:
Now that I find myself falling down this rabbit hole, I must admit that I am frustrated. I am frustrated that given all the talk about "the transformative power of technology", the need for "school reform", those who want to "disrupt education" with technology, the power of technology to "personalize" education, etc., all I see is digitized versions of what we currently do.  I see tons of products and support for:
  • Clicker & Polling Systems
  • Digitized multiple choice tests
  • Teacher lectures via video
  • Digitized shared handouts and notes
Now please don't get me wrong, I encourage the use of tools that help educators and students give and receive immediate feedback, provide us with data about content mastery, promote anytime/anywhere distribution of a teacher's knowledge, and allow for the sharing of resources and ideas among students. But if technology is going to be used to just digitize and package schools as they currently exist then I'm going to save my school's money.

Substitution and Augmentation (Enhancement), essentially digitizes our all too recognizable 19th-21st century schooling model and makes it faster and easier. If we continue to advocate for technology so that we can give our educators and students digitized multiple choice, digitized lectures, digitized worksheets/handouts, submit digital five paragraph essays, etc. then yes, technology can replace what we currently do and may (or even should) replace us. But, if as educators we use technology push for better, push for different, push for relevant, push for unique, push for creativity, push for life-long learning, push ourselves to do lessons we have always wanted, push to give students the power and autonomy they deserve, then we have harnessed the true power of technology in education. We will be Transformed.

In order to have educators harness the true potential power of technology to transform the learning experiences and outcomes, we must use technology to push further and deeper into Modification and Redefinition. Yes, this will mean taking chances...yes, this will mean failure...yes, this will mean being uncomfortable...yes, this will mean change...yes, it will take bravery...and NO, there isn't an app for that.

Even though I have been guilty of moving through SAMR and using it as way to try to get people on board by saying technology 'will help support/enhance what they already do'. I can no longer be afraid to go after the "thoughts inside a dream" and be open and honest about using technology to be the catalyst of a Redefinition of what we can empower students and educators with to change what we do everyday in schools and in education.


  1. Part III... What does Redefinition and Modification look like?

    1. Hopefully, yes. That will be the really amazing and fun part. I do have a feeling that once we get there it will be one of those things that makes us say "Why didn't we do this sooner?"

  2. I struggle with the idea that these stages are an identity rather than situational evaluation. You will never be all one or all another. I think we need to do as you said and start having conversations with new boundaries to define the future. One key concern I have is with the way people through "Going Paperless" around. We have the ability to make change in the classroom more substantive than scanning resources and passing out electronic PDFs.

    1. I agree with your "going paperless" motives. However, if this is helps get our students and educators the relevant technology I guess we should leverage it for all it is worth. That being said, we must also be honest and push the larger agenda of technology as a tool that will enable educators, students and communities to have new learning experiences that can redefine what school is, does and can be.