When SAMR first crossed my path last term, it seemed an elegant way to evaluate the role of a particular technology for whether it was innovating the learning process or just being sexy. Among many of the teachers I encounter, technology is, as Liz Kolb noted, a gimmick. Students with iPads are being tricked into thinking they are learning while the teachers who deploy them feel cutting edge. (Though, the kids are not being tricked. If I had a dollar for every time I asked a student about what they were doing with a device and was met with a lethargic explanation through a smirk and some eye rolling. Yeah, they know!)
My SAMR Experiences
SAMR has been useful in my coaching in two ways. I look for opportunities to stretch my coachees into at least augmentation or modification. For instance, I recently set up a discussion board in Google Groups for an ILT I work with to extend faculty conversations around learning walks beyond teachers’ physical time together. Granted, it’s not a lot compared to what we’ve been using in our NLU course work. But even for my teachers who want to embrace technology, it’s an ah-ha since they don’t venture too far down the GAFE paths they have available to them. They are easily overwhelmed and quickly become anxious when asked to use features outside their workflow in programs they use everyday. In general, they struggle with their own ability to transfer skills from a known program to a new one.
In another school I’m helping the faculty map their curriculum using Google Docs to collaboratively write their maps, collect resources, and view each other’s maps. This is the first that they have effectively been able to visualize the curriculum as a whole. However, teachers have struggled to find enough time to meet to work collaboratively on course team maps. CPS’s turning PD days into furlough days has only exacerbated the issue. While many see the value of the project, they are tired of fighting to carve out tiny parcels of time to meet and do the work. So just last week I proposed they stop trying to meet face-to-face as it was less necessary than they thought given the powerful collaboration tools that already exist in Google Docs if only they would use them.
In my instructional work I’ve brought SAMR to planning meetings and coached teachers through using the framework to analyze and evaluate their current technology. Many are surprised to see that they’re operating mostly at the substitution level with occasional dips into augmentation. We all get excited when the conversation then turns creative and the teacher starts visualizing ways to redesign a lesson such that those iPads or Chromebooks are being used for modification or redefinition.
Frameworks From Heaven
SAMR was an epiphany when I first encountered it. But having these other analytical and evaluative tools for ICT integration feels like revelation.
TPACK, 3E, TIM are all new to me and I can see each having its place. 3E and SAMR seem more entry-level frameworks for teachers just starting to wrestle with ICT integration. They are relatively simple and straightforward. Given their complexity, however, TPACK and TIM seem to be for more sophisticated evaluation of technology deployment. The pedagogue in me appreciates how TPACK operates from the interplay among multiple domains and context. TPACK acknowledges the complexity and locality of teaching and learning and demands that the teacher does as well.
Different visualizations of the Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition
TIM reminded me less of a rubric than of a continuum of skill development like something along the lines of a practitioner model of professional growth such as the Dreyfus model. Such models allow practitioners to position themselves on the continuum with the skill sets they currently possess. This creates an evaluative environment, but with less judgment and critique since the model honors practitioners at their current level of experience. It also suggests that their place in the model is dynamic. The longer they practice the more skills or “tools” they acquire. As they grow in experience they travel along the continuum. Such implicit messaging can be powerful for teachers working to improve their practice. There is an implied level of safety which is an important motivator for growth.
Kids are savvy enough to know when an iPad or laptop activity is engaging them cognitively or when it is just a glorified textbook. We’re not pulling anything over on them by simply putting a device in their hands. These frameworks are great tools to level up our “teaching with tech” game. They not only foster teacher reflection about how effectively they teach with technology, but having multiple frameworks allows us to differentiate for the sophistication of the teacher using them.
For Further Reading
The Five-Stage Model of Adult Skill Acquisition - Stuart Dreyfus