Going Digital: Understanding SAMR Model.

School 2.0 is here, Frameworks like the 21st Century Skills and Entire 1 to 1 schools are appearing all over the world, but as many have said: you cant just throw an iPad at students and call it a Digital School. Ironically, that is the way it is being done in many places, where the use of technology in classrooms is done for technology’s sake, and not for the sake of learning, and it is giving Digital teaching and learning a bad reputation.

So what can you do to properly Go Digital? To properly integrate Technology into the Classroom there is a very helpful standard called the SAMR model. This model created by Dr. Raul Puentedura is a very simple way to really measure the depth and impact technology has in the classroom, and outside it. SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition. Substitution is the first step, and Redefinition is what you should aim for, think of it as a ladder, where the mission is to be at the very top.

SAMR Model

The first step, Substitution, is very simple, and many teachers are probably in this first step. It consists on substituting or replacing something in the class with a digital device but there is not any other significant change in the task at hand. For example, instead of using a Textbook, now students have the very same Textbook in an iPad in PDF format. The students are basically changing one tool (textbook) for another (iPad) with out any more to it, so same task but different tool.

The next step is Augmentation. This step gives the task a little extra, but without it being redefined. It is simple substitution with an uncomplicated tech upgrade the different tool gives to the job. Again using the Textbook example, kids can use diverse functionalities that an e-reader gives, like looking for word definitions, adding sticky notes and bookmarking.

With Modification there is a more transformation being made and it comes with some redefinition of the task. The student is no longer using a different tool to do the same thing, the task itself has changed and been enhanced. In out textbook example it would be an interactive e-book that allows students to see videos and to share information with the class through it.

Our goal, and the last step is Redefinition. This last step aims to completely transform the task, to something that otherwise would be unthinkable. To finish our Textbook example, students gather the information shared and cured with the class and create their own e-book. This step allows students to be creators of content, and do things that without technology would have been unthinkable or very hard to achieve.

Substitution and Augmentation are a very good beginning, especially when the teacher is not Tech Savy or is afraid of loosing control of the class. These First two levels are a way to enhance the classroom with Technology and can work as training wheels while the teacher gets confortable with the use of Technology in the Classroom. If there is substitution going on in a Classroom the real hard work is done, that is the digital divide has been broken, the only thing to do is push it forward.

If you find yourself in a Substitution or Augmentation level and are not sure of how to move it up to Modification and Redefinition here are some Tips:

  1. Always look for a way to push it to the following Level: In many cases teachers are already in one of the first to levels. And as I mentioned before, you already did the hard work of introducing a devise and keeping your class under control. Now is time to see what else you can do. You can do it by answering this questions:
    1. Could I do this Unplugged? This is a basic question, if the answer is yes, then you are simply substituting or augmenting the class, look for ways to add an extra, for example using videos or a software that allows interaction and collaboration.
    2. Where Am I in Blooms Taxonomy? There is a Close relationship between SAMR Model and Blooms Taxonomy. diagram-puenteduraSo if you fall in the first 3 categories of Bloom’s Taxonomy look for ways to Create, Evaluate and Analyse with Technology. Sometimes doing this inverse approach can help you move up on the SAMR model.
    3. Does it have to be like this? Sometime we are stuck in our ways, and there are some things that are always done the same way, but ask yourself it is has to be like that or are you carrying a tradition that could be changed. For example do students have to hand in a standard book report or can they do another thing? Maybe a podcast or create an E-Book with interactive videos and interviews.
  1. Be on the lookout for new apps: The best way to take advantage of an iPad in class is to use one of the millions of free apps available on the iStore. Here is an extensive list of Apps with Tips for teachers, or check out sites like APPitic which has a list of thousands of Apps organised in categories such as Flipped Classroom or Special Needs.
  2. Ask for help: You have your PowerPoints going on, all assignments are turned in by Google Docs or TurnItIn, and somehow you found a nice little routine. There is no shame on being stuck in a Digital Confort Zone, but there is always more you can do. If you are out of ideas, or you don’t know what else to do: Ask For Help! Remember that sharing is caring in the digital age, ask a coworker or go online, there are thousands of teachers willing to share their experiences (like me) on several blogs or on twitter. Some hash-tags to find us with: #EdChat #EdTech #NTChat #TeacherHelp #TeacherShare
  3. SAMR is not just for teaching: That is right, even though it is very helpful when planning a Lesson you can also use it in your everyday life. Just ask yourself the basic questions “Does it have to be like this?”. Are you still using a paper Calendar or Agenda? Try boosting it up with an e-calendar like Google calendar. Your workflow can be extremely upgraded by some very handy tools try Trello. And why not try a Digital Grade keeping, which can allow you to move your own needs up the SAMR ladder.



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