Secondary Years Principal Message – The Importance of Educational Technology 

I had the opportunity to attend a master class on the use of education technology with Dr Ruben Puentedura two weeks ago. Dr Puentedura is a researcher and creator of SAMR, one of the frameworks for integrating technology in education and, specifically, in a classroom.

SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition, and is closely aligned with Bloom’s taxonomy in terms of skills and knowledge. It is also highly constructivists in its core, and thus aligned with one of the fundamentals of the International Baccalaureate (IB) approaches to knowledge, teaching and learning.

In Substitution, technology acts as a direct tool substitute, with no functional change. In Augmentation, technology acts as a direct tool substitute, with functional improvement. In Modification, technology allows for a significant task redesign. And in Redefinition, technology allows for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable.

The framework can be used by teachers to either assess and evaluate the use of technology in their classrooms or to actually drive planning of units or assessments. Regardless of the use, by engaging with a technology integration framework, teachers examine the purpose of using technology in their lessons; sometimes it is completely appropriate to ‘go old school and use pen and paper’ instead of using flashy technology just because it is available.

Why do we use technology in lessons so much?

First and foremost, in my opinion, because our students are immersed in technology in their daily life. A computer-illiterate teacher is unlikely to make connections with their students nowadays, (I have not seen an overhead projector in a classroom since 2006 and I wonder if I could even describe it to my 6-year-old son). Using an IT device in a classroom is also an opportunity for students to learn good habits which they will then transfer to their daily life. Knowing how to use a computer or an iPad productively under teacher guidance and for a set purpose does impact how students see the device outside of the school environment.

The second reason is more academic: As seen by the SAMR stages, technology allows students to create products, (and thus learn things) which would have been impossible in the past. Students are not limited to collaborate in real time with only students in their own class, they can interact virtually with students from a range of different contexts and backgrounds, thus expanding their own perspectives.

Technology already helps us visualise, (and therefore learn more easily) complicated concepts we don’t have access to: We have had presentations here at GEMS (Singapore) showing us a virtual reality ‘walk through’ of a human heart and a combustion engine. I have seen pictures and models of hearts before, but being able to put on the virtual reality headset and ‘step into’ the human body is a different experience altogether.

There are of course other technology integration frameworks but SAMR makes sense to me: it encourages teachers, (and students) to define the purpose for using technology in lessons and assessments, and it also encourages using transformational technology, (such as virtual reality) to maximise learning potential.

 

 

 

 

 

Jan Stipek,  Secondary Years Principal, GEMS World Academy (Singapore)

 

References: 

Educatorstechnology. “SAMR Model Explained for Teachers.” Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, 6 June 2013, www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/06/samr-model-explained-for-teachers.html.

Puentedura, Ruben. “Ruben R. Puentedura’s Blog.” Ruben R Puenteduras Blog, hippasus.com/blog/.

Puentedura, Ruben. “SAMR, Shared Practices, and Innovation in Schools.” Ruben R Puentedura’s Blog, www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/archives/2014/06/29/LearningTechnologySAMRModel.pdf.

“SAMR.” EdFutures: SAMR, 5 Oct. 2014, edfutures.net/SAMR.

 

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