SAMR and My Classroom

I first heard about SAMR about two years ago during a school PD session on technology in the classroom.  I was very interested in SAMR as a model of thinking about tech integration.  It went beyond how I perceived it before, either you did it or you didn’t.  Instead of looking at tech integration through a binary lens, it is important to view it as a spectrum of integration.

Coming through teachers college college and first starting out in the classroom, it was clear that the emphasis was largely placed on substitution and augmentation, with little focus being given to redefining what can be done in the classroom.  Smart-boards were being placed in the classroom for the sake of “tech integration” and PowerPoint was encouraged to break away from traditional style lectures.  Looking back at this now, this is the definition of substitution and augmentation.  Technology was being used in the classroom for the sake of technology being used, but it wasn’t being used to allow students opportunities to go beyond what could already be done.  All around students this idea of “going beyond” was emphasized, largely driving innovation in society, but it was being ignored in the classroom.

Photo Credit: shareski via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: shareski via Compfight cc

Reading the article, “What is Successful Technology Integration” the author posits that successful tech integration should achieve the following three aims:

  • Routine and transparent
  • Accessible and readily available for task at hand
  • Supporting curricular goals, and helping students to effectively reach their goals

I think this is a very important list, and was really the first epiphany I had within integrating technology in my classroom.  Technology should be routine and transparently embedded, so we do not make a big fuss about using technology in the classroom, but the students use technology regularly.  In my mind however, this is still limiting and although it aids the students within the classroom, it does not allow students to use it as a driving force to create.

Photo Credit: Enokson via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Enokson via Compfight cc

This is where SAMR comes in.  The goal with SAMR as a framework is not only to make sure teachers are using technology, but to aspire to reach “redefinition” within their classroom.  This brings technological integration beyond the enhancement phase and into the transformation stage.

In my classroom presently I think redefinition is something that I aspire to, more than something I consistently achieve.  I would say that most of my activities would fall in between augmentation and modification.  I do use technology on a daily basis in my classroom, and upon reflecting, do not think it is possible to consistently reach redefinition.  I would say each year I give my students two or three projects which redefine how the students create and inquire.  One example of redefinition in my classroom this year was my Course 1 COETAIL Project.  Students were required to create an advertising campaign to explore how language is used to persuade the audience.  Within this unit students also had a separate opportunity to create a vlog or blog, post it online for feedback.  This goes well beyond substitution by opening up the blog to a wide audience through the use of social media.

Photo Credit: tim.klapdor via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: tim.klapdor via Compfight cc

Overall, SAMR is a very interesting framework to allow us to consider technology integration in our classrooms.  Instead of looking at tech integration as either do or do not, this gives us a spectrum to view the purpose of our integration, not just pat ourselves on the back because it is there.