I’m not entirely sure I find the SAMR model as useful as I used to. I used it at first with teachers because it seemed simple to grasp and easy to start with. Unfortunately, that simplicity leaves many things open to interpretation that has made it more of a challenge for teachers who get hung up on the details of the differences between augmentation, modification and redefinition. I also personally believe, no personal research to back up this one yet, that audience is a vital piece of what truly redefines a student’s learning experience and it’s not clearly defined in the SAMR model.
Technology allows our students the opportunity to write, collaborate, create and publish for much bigger audiences than their teacher or class. Part of the redefinition process needs to be teaching our students the skills of putting their thinking out to the universe is safe, productive, meaningful ways. They need to learn to take criticism and feedback from complete strangers on the web and use what’s helpful, respond with dignity, or ignore it and move on. We need to give them the opportunities to share their passions, interests and expertise with others without giving away their privacy or sacrificing their digital reputation. And most of all, as good citizens, we want them to contribute to the world in positive ways, from being thoughtful before they post in social media to contributing to the larger bank of knowledge in their chosen area of expertise someday. It all starts with the experiences they have in the classroom.
We can’t do any of that without also changing the expectation of redefinition so that they are learning skills transfer to their lives outside the classroom. We should want our students to be asking questions that are too big or complicated to answer alone, or with a simple Google search, and need collaboration with others or an expert to help answer. We want students thinking carefully, and editing often, because they know their work will be seen, and possibly commented on, by people outside their peer group. We should want them using multiple tools to collect data, research for answers, create models and presentations and to share their learning with others.
True redefinition is not about technology at all. Its about changing our teaching practices to give agency to students to make their own meaning and share it with others. The technology just broadens the playing field and gives them more opportunities and more resources to do the learning with.
My lesson plan was about teaching my teachers about what SAMR means and begin to nudge their thinking towards new ways they can think about the technology in their classroom. As a first step, this lesson wasn’t a bad place to start. It gave them some examples to work with and some time to start making meaning of it in the context of their classroom. I can’t help but think that I am not really modeling redefinition by the way I’m teaching the SAMR model though. A “sit and get” no matter how much they get up and move around, is really not redefining this type of professional development. I will be following up this spring with the teachers to see where they might need help getting started so I still don’t have much feedback about how effective this lesson was yet but I am going to try to rethink how we are offering this PD and see if there are some ways I can start practicing what I preach a bit more!
Here’s a link to the whole lesson: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1f4wCxnUYjmuN_Wda1P-H_psTzFgIltIRjsGOrePMHFk/edit https://docs.google.com/document/d/1f4wCxnUYjmuN_Wda1P-H_psTzFgIltIRjsGOrePMHFk/edit