I’ve been thinking a lot about how we integrate technology into our classrooms. I attended a presentation recently where the speaker talked about the SAMR Model. The model, introduced by Ruben Puentedura, demonstrates different ways that educators bring technology into their classroom. The model presents a hierarchy of integration phases that educators typically employ. For instance, educators can integrate technology as a substitution to something they typically have done. Maybe they replace their traditional chalkboard lectures with Powerpoint slides. In this situation, the technology acts as a direct substitute to the traditional method with little functional improvement. In other phases of the SAMR Model, Puentedura explains that educators integrate technology as an augmentation to previous practice. Here the technology acts as a direct substitute but with functional improvement. Maybe students are using word processing tools to complete projects. In the higher phases of the model, educators completely transform their classroom so new means of collaboration and communication are leveraged. For example, educators can integrate technology as a modification to their classroom practice, completely redesigning an activity so that students are now interacting in new ways. An example would be allowing students to collaborate through Google Docs on projects. Here, students are able to work together to edit and build on each other’s work.
In Puentedura’s highest phase of integration, educators integrate technology as a complete redefinition of classroom activity. Students collaborate with experts, author new content and publish their work to the world. In this process, the student’s role evolves from being a consumer of information and content to being a producer. Maybe students are blogging about their research or sharing their findings in a wiki. In a redefined classroom, the student isn’t just a passive receiver of information but an active participant in a worldwide forum.
As I’ve been mulling over the SAMR model, I think the hierarchy has some flaws. I don’t think the phases are as discrete as Puentedura proposes and I think the hierarchy lends itself to labeling some integration as better than others. I also believe that the representations of the model focus too much on tasks and tools and too little on the most important component of what we do: student learning. While the model has some issues, I thought it would be a great conversation starter and possibly provoke some thought.
For those of you starting school this week, have a great start to your school year.