In2edu I.C.T. Resources Enhancing Education & Learning

SAMR - Critical Review.


There are times when the "flavour" of the month is actually a rebalancing in education as it places an emphasis that is needed as society changes. When I started teaching, setting a prescribed set of values for a school was the biggest no-no, pupils had to 'discover' these for themselves and should not be persuaded by teachers. Today, I believe in many schools values, discussion around values and even the presentation of thoughts about individual values are a high priority in many schools. If we learn anything from Finland's "educational success" it is that their education system seems to run counter to much of the competitive, assessment driven, do more systems and philosophies that have invaded many educational systems. What I especially think is impressive about Finland is that the leadership buy in seems so uniform top to bottom and they are not afraid to keep evolving or changing (there is some debate about whether they rested on their laurels recently) but this comes from the basis of the decades of educational system improvement.

So this leads us to SAMR - seen as model of digital technologies implementation. Here is a presentation with some thinking about the SAMR model in itself and as always, like Chinese whispers we need to look at the source~creator for their feedback on how their model has been implemented and the flaws they see in this or the adaptations in their thinking to the model since it was launched.

The SAMR model was created by Dr Ruben Puentedura. What Ruben would say is that you mix the different tasks, try to work at different levels and use what works. All the levels are defined relevant to your current practice and what is augmentation for one person, can be modification to another. Having said that, people often see it as 'higher is better' therefore you should only aim for "above the line" learning. It is often seen as a model for teachers, for planning, for lessons and therefore not so relevant to PBL, or inquiry types of learning.

My Take: SAMR is a simple tool for both teachers and pupils to plan and reflect on meaningful use of digital technologies in the learning journey. While it is especially more difficult to define clearly for an individual what a modification or redefinition task may look like, the simple thinking about teaching "above the line" is important to help teachers and pupils to quickly evaluate the learning task and integration with technology. It is a bit of chicken and egg scenario, higher level use of digital technologies can lead to deeper learning and deeper learning can lead to higher level use of digital technologies. Aligning SAMR with Blooms may also prove useful in some cases. It is important to keep in mind that SAMR is not a one way journey to a "higher plane", depending on the circumstances a substitution or augmentation may be the best use of digital technologies. Taking the route to deeper thinking is based on good knowledge and skills and it is much harder to have good levels of thinking without digital literacy, the same as it is harder to read to learn if you haven't learned to read! On the other side of the coins there is a reluctance to, "Learn or Teach above the Line" as it will involve change and challenge... so an emphasis on these areas of the SAMR model may be needed to really open up learning opportunities.



  Sources:
  1. Finland's "educational success"
  2. Hattie meets Puentedura on Growth Mindset criticism.
  3. Critical Review of SAMR
  4. SAMR - A model without evidence
  5. The Problem with SAMR
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