The Journey Through The SAMR Model
The SAMR model is increasingly becoming the go-to model for embedding technology in education. Developed in 2010 by Dr Ruben Puentedura, this two-phase, four step model is a practical, logical approach that simply makes good sense. In preparing for this fresh look at the model, I came across a remarkable video of the man himself explaining the model and its application. I'll let him explain...
The SAMR graphic has been presented in several different forms. I made the one below as a part of a Prezi for the KHDA conference in September 2012.
(Traditionally the model moves bottom to top but that always bugged me so I flipped it round.)
Many schools and educational organisations find themselves mired in the first phase, where substitution is common and augmentation is seen as an achievement. However Dr Puentedura is correct in his assertion that the benefits reaped from these stages are minor and as such the use of tech in this way is quite shallow. If students are simply typing up a piece of work, what difference does this make to the given task? Are you just ticking an ICT box?
Thus those seeking to truly harness the power and versatility of technology in the 21st century must aim higher (ok - lower on my version of the diagram!) for the twin stages that make up the transformation phase. Let's look at those in more detail.
The first step to transformation is the modification of the core task. Redesigning the content of a lesson need not affect the skills nor content covered but may naturally incorporate addtional elements of both. The task should now depend on the technology - it could not be completed without it. This would not include something like simply adding pictures to a word processed document (that's the augmentation stage) but could include annotating an image in Skitch or adding a QR code to a doc.Using the iPads camera or internet broswer can also allow for a modified task. Creating a Keynote (or Powerpoint to be fair) and presenting orally alongside the slides can also modify a task from it's original conception.
The zenith of the model is the true redefinition of the task into something previously impossible to even consider without the technology. There are certain apps that sit naturally in this stage, with the most commonly applied being iMovie. Replacing the write up of a scientific investigation with an iMovie charting the entire process is a simple example of how this versatile app can be used to completely alter the nature of a traditional task. Book Creator and Puppet Pals also offer clear alternatives to traditional tasks. More recently, apps like Nearpod, Edmodo and Showbie have created a new twist on this stage as they can completely reshape the way content is delivered, shared and assessed.
This leads me to collaborative learning. Whether through live collaboration using apps like Google Docs and Pdf Cabinet or even the simple application of file sharing systems like Dropbox, the way that learners can access information has changed dramatically in the last five years. Opportunities for teamwork and peer-assessment are evolving rapidly and present educators with an amazing opportunity to fast-forward through the stages of the SAMR model. Creating a file, sharing it with others for real-time feedback and then receiving it back for alterations will become the standard in education and beyond. Teams of students creating parts of a larger, multimedia presentation prepares them for the inevitable expectations and logistics of the modern workplace. Surely this is the best way to access the Redefinition stage?
Actually I think there is another aspect of modern education that takes that accolade: Enquiry-based learning. Interestingly, this approach is not new, rather it has risen back into fashion in the wake of constructivism and skills-based curriculum design. The basic concept - that learners inspire, design and lead their own studies - is mostly unchanged from the original thinking of pioneers like Piaget, Dewey and Vygotsky from the 60's. No longer is the task set in stone by the educator, instead it varies from learner to learner, depending on their specific talents, interests and motivations. Through merging enquiry with the versatility of the iPad and the range of applications this digital Swiss army knife offers learners, the doors are not only opened for redefinition, they are blown right off! A simple concept or topic can be introduced and each learner could take it in a different direction. Here's an example task - understand the principles of adaptation in animals. Having set their own enquiry questions, the learners are then set free to research, collaborate and present in any form they see fit. Rather than have all students complete an identikit worksheet or formal writing task, some choose to make iMovies, some make multimedia ebooks, some use Morfo or Puppet Pals or Explain Everything or - the list of potential applications grows daily.
The advent of the iPad and tablet computing created a new, agile space for all of us. Blending the portability of mobile tech like phones and iPods with the depth and power of laptops, the benefits are almost limitless and correctly harnessed, can help any educator redefine their practice.
To enjoy some extra content from the remarkable Dr Ruben Puentedura, please visit his Weblog at http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/
Steve has presented on the SAMR model at the KHDA What Works conference. With references to it becoming more common, he takes another look at SAMR and how it can be effectively applied through iPads.