‘Learning is fun’ is something you’ll probably never hear any student say. But with the advent of technology into the education system, we can safely say in true Bob Dylan-style that ‘the times they are a-changin.’
Nowadays, finding an iPad casually passed from hand to hand (out in the open, yes; students need not hide their gadgets anymore!) in a classroom is way too common. More and more teachers now firmly believe that tech should be deeply integrated into the learning system as that is the way of the future.
While all of that sounds hunky-dory, change as big as bringing technology into the classroom cannot be done overnight. It requires a method, a system or even a ‘model’ if you will that can bring about the seamless integration of tech into the sphere of education. In this blog, we will be discussing one such model, known as the SAMR model, which majority of the faculty of the education systems the world over have used to usher in tech into the realm of classroom learning.
What is the SAMR Model?
Conceptualized by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, the SAMR Model has been designed to specify measures that can be taken to incorporate technology into education. The ‘SAMR’ portion of the SAMR Model is actually an acronym that defines the steps teachers need to take. Let us tell you what this acronym stands for.
In essence, Substitution can be referred to as the first step that educational institutions need to take if they want to successfully adopt new age methods of teaching. Substitution means using technology, in this case, computing tools, as a direct substitute for the existing methods of teaching without bringing about any functional change.
For example, instead of submitting a worksheet that the teacher has printed out, the students print out the worksheet on their own, fill it up and hand it over. This is not technically a fundamental change in the methods of teaching or learning as it doesn’t make much of a difference whether the teacher prints it out or the student. There’s no real gain from computer technology here either. Although, what’s interesting about this is that this level is entirely teacher-centric, and the tutor is responsible for guiding students through all aspects of the lesson.
Augmentation takes place when technology acts a direct substituting tool for the conventional methods of teaching and brings about functional improvement. Let us explain this to you with the help of an example.
Normally, students are assigned quizzes on a sheet of paper, and they have to circle in the right answer with the help of a pencil right? Well, by applying the principle of augmentation, students will be asked to take the same quiz on a Google Form. How is this functionally beneficial you ask?
Well, the functional benefit here is that you save paper and that it is easier to give immediate feedback to the students so that they can better comprehend what is being taught by the teacher. This level moves the towards teacher/student-centric paradigm and encourages students to participate in classroom happenings. The best part about this level is that teachers can use a host of smart techniques to increase student engagement during lessons. The interactive technologies that teachers can utilize to supplement book lessons include audio-video sessions, sharing website links, conducting movie sessions and more.
Modification is exactly what the word implies. This level of the model focuses on bringing about a transformation of the classroom scenario: an evolution of sorts that alters the traditional methods of teaching to new age ones. In this level, the common tasks given in the classroom are carried out with the help of computers instead.
For example, students of class A are asked to write an essay on a particular a topic. Now instead of just furnishing it on a piece of paper, they will be instructed to turn it into an audio recording with an original soundtrack so that it can be presented to a real audience, thereby completely changing the nature of the task.
As you can see, the functional change at this level in the method of imparting education is remarkable. Even though every student in the classroom is learning the same thing, the fact that student get an authentic audience for their work encourages them to give a fresh spin to their academic task with the help of technological tools. Moreover, by giving students such a task, where technology becomes the core media, teachers also help in increasing classroom interaction as students generally come up with questions themselves about writing and doing the task. This is because the use of electronic gadget considerably increases their interest in the said task.
Redefinition is the final stage in the SAMR continuum. Here technology is used to such an extent in classrooms that it brings forth the possibility of the creation of new tasks that were previously unimaginable. Let us take a look at an example to fully understand this.
The teacher asks his/her students to make a documentary video on a particular issue, answering the questions that pertain to it. To carry out the task, students can be divided into different teams, and each team could take up a particular angle to the topic, collaborating with each other to come up with their own documentaries.
Through a task like this, it becomes clear that technology is no longer being used as a secondary tool to carry out tasks but rather as a principle mode of learning for students. Creating a video of professional quality is by no means an easy task, and in through the journey of creating one, students not only acquire the necessary skills to make a documentary but even learn a lot about their topic. Collaboration turns into a necessity because of the nature of the project and hence, promotes effective communication among students as well. Every question or discussion on the topic also becomes student-generated as such tasks give students the scope to think and explore beyond bookish knowledge.
Advantages of the SAMR Model
The SAMR Model has been specifically designed for the gradual introduction of tech into the classroom so that students can learn more effectively and retain whatever they are taught. This model has quite a few benefits.
First of all, it makes learning much more fun and interactive as most students find text-based learning to be extremely boring.
Secondly, learning with the help of this technique also encourages students to explore technology and what it has to offer. Teachers should, obviously, monitor the use of technology in the classroom and should even demonstrate how to use tech ethically, so there’s never an instance of the unethical use of it.
Thirdly, by adopting the SAMR Model and assimilating it into their teaching techniques, teachers help students prepare for future jobs as those working in big companies and organizations are often asked to make presentations with the help of digital devices.
Lastly, the use of tech in classrooms not only helps students to work independently as well as in coordination with others but it also helps in sharpening their critical analysis skills as it forces them to think beyond the books.
Quite a few types of technology can be used in the classroom for the successful implementation of the SAMR Model. These can range from using collaborative apps such as Google Docs for the creation of group projects to teaching critical concepts of certain subjects with the help of simulation games. Mobile and handheld devices can also be introduced into the classroom for the purpose of learning.
However, even though tech-teaching is the future and it sounds tremendous in theory, the practical application of it can still take a long time. Most educational institutions around the world still do not have enough resources to introduce the element of technology in their classrooms. That said, the future still looks bright as technology is expanding at a rapid pace and is becoming more and more accessible to all. All educational institutions need to do is take it slow and remember that Rome was not built in a day!
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