Talk by Ruben Puentedura
14th September, 2012
It was great to have the opportunity to hear Ruben Puentedura speak about his SAMR model (see right) as well as a new model of technology use that builds upon his older work. Further details of his talk can be found in his slides.
He explained the need for technology models by suggesting that just because individual teachers are making big technological changes, and improving their classes, it doesn’t mean there is institutional change as a coherent whole. When a teacher leaves, their work often leaves with them. That’s because what individual teachers do is not necessarily integrated with the work of other teachers or with the institution as a whole.
He also spent some time differentiating portable from mobile technology. Portable technology, he observed, can be used at Point A, closed down, transported to Point B, then opened up again there. Mobile technology, on the other hand, can be used at Point A and Point B and everywhere in between, without stopping. A student is therefore not confined to learning in the domain of school OR the domain of home. Now learning can take place truly continuously if we design appropriate experiences, and indeed, we need to construct learning experiences for students that leverage this. In other words, we need to construct a continuum of learning spaces that the students inhabit all day long.
Puentedura went on to explain that with the SAMR model, you get progressively improved student outcomes as you go up the levels. He gave the example of a traditional task where students read a book and write an essay about it, and showed how technology could be added at the four levels of the framework:
- Substitution: an e-book is used instead of a paper book, with no change in the task or how it is accomplished. This may have benefits: it may be more convenient (e.g., because of the inbuilt dictionary function), may save money on textbooks, and may improve students’ health because they don’t have to carry piles of heavy books around. However, none of these impact student outcomes.
- Augmentation: students are asked to export their e-book annotations to an integrated text file, which gives them a coherent overview of their notes, which they can then build essays on. At this level there are small but noticeable improvements in student outcomes, perhaps by a fraction of a grade.
- Modification: the heart of the task remains the same but a social component is introduced to both the (individual) reading and (individual) essay writing tasks. Students can be asked to share their integrated notes files. When they have access to other students’ ideas, they begin to think differently about the text, by seeing the trace of their classmates’ thoughts. In terms of formative assessment, students learn more about how to analyse their own thinking. Then, instead of handing in essays to the teacher, students can be asked to post their essays on a blog and engage in discussion on others’ essays and, as they respond to each other’s comments, they can modify and improve their own essays. Here, there can be significant changes in student outcomes – up to a full letter grade.
- Redefinition: the heart of the task is changed, for example by varying the mode of response. Students could respond not with an essay, but with, say, a digital video. Students can use the sequencing of images, video, build in sound, etc. It’s not about just adding a new task, but replacing the original task with another. There can also be a true edit and comment cycle. Students could share their videos online, and harvest a broader set of feedback. This anticipated public response will drive them to perform at a higher level. At this level, there can be dramatic improvements in student outcomes – up to two letter grades. Struggling students can become average; average students can achieve highly.
The SAMR model also gives teachers a guide to how they can progress through the different levels. Teachers can start at the lower levels, where they become comfortable with use of technology while not detracting from their work. Over 2.5 to 3 years, teachers can progress to the highest level of the SAMR model.
In a brief discussion of Mishra and Koehler’s TPACK model, Puentedura pointed out that the problem with teachers starting by thinking about pedagogy and content before they think about technology is that they can lock themselves into old approaches. In the TPACK model, technology is not accidental or incidental, but a peer with pedagogy and content. According to Puentedura, Mishra and Koehler’s view is that the most effective teachers consider all three knowledge areas together, but this is difficult to do. Puentedura himself suggests that it may be almost as effective to start with content, then shift quickly to pedagogy, then shift to technology. In other words, teachers can cycle through the three knowledge areas rather than actually thinking about all of them at once. This gives good results, often indistinguishable from those achieved by teachers who do consider all three knowledge areas at the same time.
He then introduced a third model, finalised this year, which is entitled The First 200,000 Years of Educational Technology (see above). This model flags up different categories of technologies, rather than having teachers just reach into a grab bag of technologies. The five categories were determined by an analysis of the technologies included in the annual Horizon Reports.
Puentedura concluded by showing Mishra and Koehler’s model of 21st century learning, where they have pulled together the common elements from many different accounts of 21st century skills, and organised them into three macrocategories, as follows:
- Core content knowledge
- Cross-disciplinary knowledge/synthesis
- Information literacy
- Creativity and innovation
- Problem solving and critical thinking
- Communication & collaboration
- Life & job skills
- Ethical & emotional awareness
- Cultural competence
Finally, he commented that using national educational standards – no matter what country they come from – as the sole guide will not take teachers to the top of the SAMR ladder. He suggested that such standards should be seen as a floor, not a ceiling, and pointed the audience to the Guide: P21 Common Core Toolkit: A Guide to Aligning the Common Core Standards with the Framework for 21st Century Skills.
The kinds of models presented by Puentedura are certainly useful in scaffolding educators’ thinking about how best to incorporate new technologies into education. The conversation, I suspect, is far from over, but all of these models have an important role in informing and supporting our discussions.