SAMR: Learning with Technology

Last week, we highlighted how our districts have made Chrome Warrior a more collaborative platform by developing content that’s shareable and searchable with our new catalog feature. These contributions have grown our collective PD knowledge base, and districts now have access to missions and sorties developed around the most current trends in education. Thanks to the support of Desert Sands Unified School District, we've been able to develop a mission focused on one of these trends: the SAMR model--a four-tiered tool for evaluating technology implementation in the classroom.

SAMR and Chrome Warrior
While the SAMR model is a relatively new tool, it's changing the face of education by helping teachers navigate the developing world of learning and technology. That's why DSUSD helped us create the SAMR mission for their administrator game. “Technology is changing the way education looks. My vision is to ensure that pedagogy grows with technology. Educators are busy but they are also always looking into new ideas,” says Kelly May-Vollmar, Chief Innovation and Information Officer for Desert Sands Unified. “Offering anytime, anywhere PD that focuses on integrating technology into classroom instruction is a must if we are going to give students the best possible educational opportunities. It is said that education isn't so much filling a bucket as it is lighting a fire. Chrome Warrior allows us the opportunity to ignite the fire within the educator everyday!”

SAMR in action
The SAMR Model, developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, is a four-tiered tool for evaluating technology implementation in the classroom. SAMR, which stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition, is a ladder-type model, where substitution and augmentation enhance learning, while modification and redefinition transform learning.

The goal of implementing the SAMR model is to design lessons that “teach above the line,” using technology in a way that transforms learning. Transformative activities encourage collaboration and help students grow higher level thinking skills.

The best way to get a grasp on the SAMR model is to see what it looks like in practice. Let’s say you’re teaching a lesson on geography; traditionally, you might have students create a PowerPoint on a particular region and present it to the class. Now, let’s take that same activity and improve it with SAMR:

  • At the lowest level of SAMR, substitution, you would use current technology to replace the original resource—in this case, you might substitute Google Slides for PowerPoint. Using Google Slides means students can receive online feedback from peers, and access their work from any computer. But in the end, students are still engaging with the content in the same way--creating a presentation with text and images.
  • To take the activity further into the augmentation stage, you might expand the assignment to require audio, video and hyperlinks. While interaction with the new tool is still very similar to the traditional method, utilizing the programs extra features provides functional improvements.
  • Modification takes this assignment "above the line" into transformation. In a modified assignment, students could use online software like LucidPress to design a multimedia, digital travel brochure about their assigned region. In this example, creating a brochure allows students to engage with the content in a significantly new way, by describing the region from the POV of a travel agent and designer.
  • To achieve redefinition, technology must be implemented in a way that "allows for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable." To redefine this assignment, students could use Google Earth to create a virtual tour around their assigned region. Using Google Earth gives students the opportunity to engage as explorers, bringing them as close to subject matter as they'll ever be, while remaining within the confines of the classroom. This is what redefinition is all about: using technology to go beyond traditional learning resources and create an immersive experience.

To learn more about SAMR, visit Dr. Puentedura's blog, or check out the video below:

How do you use technology in the classroom? What are some new ways you’d like to approach technology in learning? Let us know in the comments.