Wednesday, October 12, 2011

10 of the best: Thinking about the SAMR Model

The most popular post I have ever written is about the SAMR model which I wrote in March 2010 following the Apple World Leadership Summit in Prague.  As this post has been viewed thousands of times since then, I thought I'd repost it because some of the new readers to this blog may not have seen it.  This post was originally based on a presentation called Strive for Transformation by Stephanie Hamilton of Apple.

This post will form part of a series where I'm looking back at previous popular blog posts.

Stephanie talked about the Apple Classroom of Tomorrow (ACOT) study from 1985-97, which looked at moving from instruction to construction of knowledge and measured teacher's comfort with technology. Now, however, the focus shouldn't be on the technology but on what you do with the technology - and what it can do for you.

Stephanie showed a graphic of the technology use continuum, moving from substitution to redefinition:
Substitution involves doing the same thing as you would do without the technology without any modification of the assignment, for example typing out the work using a word processor rather than handwriting.
Augmentation - involves some functional improvement but is still a direct tool substitute - again the assignment is not changed, but perhaps some of the built in tools such as the thesaurus, word count, spell check etc might be used.
These first 2 levels lead to ENHANCEMENT

Modification involves giving a different kind of assignment - for example using multimedia - adding sound, video etc. The question to be asked is does the media enhance the message?
Redefinition - doing something that was inconceivable without technology, giving students a stage for example posting on the web so that the audience is the world and there is a feedback loop. Examples could include collaborative writing - writing is for the real world - eg wikis.
These 2 levels lead to TRANSFORMATION

Stephanie's point was that if you are using technology but are not striving for transformation it's a waste of time and money.

Later I attended another presentation on a similar theme: Transforming learning one conversation at a time by Jenny Little, the Director of Curriculum and Professional Learning at Munich International School. Jenny talked about the learning conversations they have been having at MIS, such as how to design curriculum, finding appropriate challenges for all students given the diversity of their student body, using Project Zero's Visible Thinking routines, language acquisition and the relationship between learning and story-telling.

Jenny's analogy was that quality learning is like a black forest gateau - what is important is the
learning environment, curriculum, instruction and assessment - each layer is important and adds to the entire cake and you cannot leave one layer out of the whole.

Jenny discussed how the SAMR model gives their teachers a common language and draws out the specifics of what they do and why. Many teachers are still using technology as substitution and augmentation - we have to try to move to the stages that represent transformation. In transformation students need to be participating in their learnings as we know that learning is socially constructed. Visualisation is important to make the abstract concrete. Students will become engaged and motivated through bringing the world into the classroom. Learning is a partnership - the teacher doesn't have all the knowledge - students are also empowered to find resources. As teachers started looking at how the technology could transform learning they knew they needed to come up with assignments that showed engagement, deeper analysis, more real life application, that students need to communicate, and that learning is interdisciplinary.

If you want teachers to move to redefinition and modification you have to give them the right tools so they can do that. One of Jenny's final thought were that a good tool that allows redefinition could be VoiceThread - she explained why it could be more powerful than, for example, iMovie as it allows collaboration and that students around the world can work together to make a single VoiceThread in a way that would be difficult to make a single iMovie.

One interesting idea that Jenny had is having reading groups for her teachers where they come together to discuss books. She recommended, among others, Daniel Pink's Whole New Mind and his latest book Drive, as well as Howard Gardner's Five Minds for the Future. This is such a great idea I am going to suggest this once I am back at school again. Perhaps it would be possible to set up a small reading group that met one lunchtime every month to discuss some of these books and to help us talk about how these can impact on our teaching.

Update:  If you would like to find out how we are getting on implementing the SAMR model please read the following posts:
The SAMR Model - From Theory to Practice
Moving from S to R
Moving from S to R part 2

I would like to acknowledge the work of Dr Ruben Puentedura who has been the force behind SAMR.

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