Redefining SAMR?

OK, let’s go out on a limb here.

SAMR. We know it. We love it. But have we thought about it? I mean really thought about it? It is doubtlessly a fantastic tool for reflecting on how we integrate technology into the classroom but it also suggests something else.

SAMR?We humans can often be all about hierarchies. We want to see what the top (mistakenly best?) looks like so we can achieve it. A wonderful part of our nature and I wouldn’t change this if I could, but, if I’m not mistaken, (and I would love to hear your thoughts on this) the SAMR model apparently screams at us that Redefinition, doing things in new ways, is what we should be after in our practice.

I’m not sold on this. Why?

John Nash revised Adam Smith and changed economics forever. This was because of a new intellectual approach to an economic theory not because he felt it needed new interaction with digital technology. Why must things be redefined to be made better? Art galleries are now online. The Google Art Project redefines them and this is a good thing. We have greater access but it is not the same as actually going there. The pieces themselves, the point of the art, is in no way enhanced by this redefinition of the galleries in which they are housed and displayed. Is this wrong? Do they need to be redefined? What of student creations produced in the same manner? Is this end no longer a valid outcome if it cannot be redefined?

All I am really saying is that we should never lose sight of the fact that we need to consider the whys of what we are doing in our practice before we get too swept up in the hows.

I love SAMR but do not think we should accept the implications embedded within it blindly.

Or maybe I’m wrong? What do you think? Is the image below correct? Let’s talk about it!

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 3.25.53 PM

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About Sean Thompson

Sean has accepted a position as the Director of Technology at The Early Learning Centre, City School, in Bangkok. He is excited to be working with Giovanni Piazza and the rest of the staff to raise awareness of digital-age teaching and learning practice in this Reggio Emilia inspired environment. Sean is also an Apple Distinguished Educator, an International Baccalaureate Educator Network Workshop Leader and a Google Educator available for professional development at your school.
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2 Responses to Redefining SAMR?

  1. I believe, and have specifically directed this in PD I have led, that each level of the SAMR model shows some level of tech integration. It is not necessary to aim for R each and every lesson. Simply incorporating one of the 4 levels in a lesson is embracing of 21st Century Skills. However, a change up to an R every now and then (and I cannot define timelines here!) can really change the motivation of a student…

  2. Nick Alchin says:

    Couldn’t agree more. SAMR is a good conceptual tool; and as long as we see it as a taxonomy, not a hierarchy, then that’s fine. There is no intrinsic need to move (I intentionally avoid the ‘progress’) from S to A to M to R; it all depends on context, tasks, students, teacher and so on.

    SAMR allows us to name what we are doing with technology; but it does not tell us more than that. ‘Redefinition’ might be terrible – it all depends on if it helps us meet our learning goals. Which are embedded in a broader matrix of school culture.

    As with so many ‘best practices’, slavishly following one system is a recipe for disaster.

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