Monday, March 2, 2015

Are you Teaching Above the Line?

In the 1990s Dr. Ruben Puentedura introduced the SAMR model for describing the use of technology for learning. Going from the bottom up, direct substitution of a digital tool or process for an older technology or practice does not substantively change learning. When we use digital technologies to create new opportunities - previously unavailable - for our students, we can transform learning.
image licensed for reuse under CC by Ruben Puentedura

Though there is no cut and dry way to determine if an activity is strictly substitution, augmentation, modification or redefinition, consider this example.

College essays were written with paper and pen. Then using the technology of the typewriter they were neatly typed. Then with the advent of computers papers were typed on a computer and printed possibly in multiple copies for distribution. These technological advances enhance the experience of writing, but do they transform it? I suggest these advances fall below the dotted line of the SAMR model. Writing activities that might go beyond enhancement, or above the line, include publishing papers for a large audience and using a teacher's social network to invite expert feedback.

The technology alone does not transform learning. It is how we use it. When we first start teaching online, it is tempting to use digital tools and activities to substitute for the traditional classroom experience. As we gain confidence, we must consider moving up the SAMR model.

If you have ideas to share about transformative uses of digital technologies/media, please comment. If you need help generating transformative strategies, let me know.

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