The SAMR model was created by Dr Ruben Puentedura and provides a model which describes technological integration in the classroom. When you begin to use tech in the classroom you often come across this model as a method of helping you to effectively navigate the use of tech.
The model itself is nice and simple and it’s aim is to guide the user from a point at where technology simply substitutes a classroom activity eg word processing to a point where tasks are redefined by technology ie. students collaborate to make a film on a subject using multiple apps or elements of their device. I was introduced to this model a couple of years ago and it really resonated with me, I could see that getting to a point of redefinition was key to the use of technology in the classroom. I liked the idea of using multiple apps to create the previously inconceivable. To my mind, it would help to stretch my students enabling them to work confidently and creatively with little teacher interference.
I am now 2 years into using iPads in the classroom. I don’t have one per student and I cannot use them every lesson as they are for use by the whole department however I am using them as much as possible and this constant use has lead me to question the SAMR model.
Whatever you read about the use of technology in the classroom you will always come across the phrase “the right tool for the job”. As a subject specialist you will know your students well and you will know where you are aiming to take them. Thus you as the professional select the correct classroom tools to get them there whether this be a text book, a mini whiteboard task or a comprehension exercise as the professional you choose because you know what’s best for your students. The same is true when you use technology in the classroom. You plan your lessons and you know when, how and if you are going to use technology in the classroom. Sometimes it will be wholly appropriate to use your tablets as mini whiteboards ( substitution) or to use a formative assessment tool to check knowledge (augmentation) In this senario you as teacher are selecting the appropriate tool for the job. The pedagogy is leading the technology. My issue with the SMAR model stems from this point; all too often the SAMR model is presented as THE model to follow, students should be working at the redefinition stage and for me, and I fell into this trap too, teachers then force their work to the redefinition stage – they constantly try to work at that level. This is when we see technology leading the pedagogy and technology can then have a detrimental affect on teaching and learning.
Technology, from my point of view, works at it’s best in the classroom when it is lead by sound pedagogical thinking. You don’t plan your lessons by thinking at the very outset I am definitely going to use this text book no, you of course think about the aims of the lesson and what tools you will use to best achieve your aims. Using technology is no different sometimes it is perfectly acceptable to use technology at the substitution and augmentation level and sometimes you will be working at the redefinition level but definitely not always. @s_armitage highlights this beautifully in his blog post 4 hours of learning. I have also blogged in a similar vein. I like @domnorrish ‘s idea from this blog post that technology should become invisible in the classroom, nobody should talk about it anymore and unfortunately for me the SAMR model can create the very opposite effect.
So if not SAMR then what? I would suggest the TPACK model (described perfectly in this video by Candace M) brings together pedagogical knowledge, technological knowledge and content knowledge. It is not hierarchical like the SAMR model but a model that helps us to understand how to integrate technology into our teaching buy understanding each of the different components that make up the model.
In both cases models are a useful starting point but remember this, you are the teacher in the classroom it is you who decides what to use and when. Technology is a powerful tool in the hands of a good classroom practitioner but remember you can’t make an omelette (redefinition) without first cracking eggs (substitution)!