Just because it’s transformative… doesn’t mean its deep!

I happened to participate in an online conversation today about SAMR in which members of that group were collaborating and submitting artifacts based on the SAMR model of technology integration. I think this is important. As schools are investing in technology, we want to make sure our teachers and students understand how to use tech and the new opportunities that can “transform” learning.

SAMR Model

SAMR is a model of technology integration developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura

As a tech director and a self-proclaimed innovator, technology and the potential for transformation excite me. Technology can alter the way we do things and create new efficiencies and opportunities. Technology can also be engaging! For many – tinkering with new gadgets and ideas and trying to figure them out is fun.

VIP to Remember.  When designing/observing rich learning experiences using technology, we need to keep a keen eye on what the student actually knows and understands. Sometimes technology integration that could be considered “transformative” can also have student learning (thinking!)  at the low end of cognitive levels.

For example, let’s say you have a small group of students collaborating on Google Slides and then recording a video presentation(on any given topic) and “sharing with the world”.  Transformative right? But, if all they are doing is Googling, copy/pasting, adding a few Google images and reading slides (or notes from their iPads/Chromebooks/devices) – I wonder how much they actually know/understand of the original learning objective? Collaborative Yes. Creative. Maybe. Deep Learning? Not so sure.

If the task goes beyond low level of copy/paste research and actually requires higher order thinking (like Level 3 and 4 of Webbs Depth of Knowledge) AND uses upper levels of  SAMR… now we are talking about exciting transformation!

Webbs depth of knowledge levels

So let’s go back to that simple research project example and ask some What If questions to see if we can improve the original project and move learning up the cognitive domains.

Instead of students simply researching a topic and organizing some basic facts – what if students had to make a decision based on their research? (Level 2 – Skill Concept) What if they had to debate and defend their decision? (Level 3 – Strategic Reasoning) Or what if students had to raise awareness, advocate for an issue, or take action on problems they found from their research? What if they were to design/implement a solution to a problem that they have found? (Level 4 – Extended Reasoning)

It basically boils down to this… If we are going to take the time to “redefine” our learning tasks through the innovative use of technology – let’s  make sure we are also deepening the understanding of our learning objective(s). We will certainly get more “learning bang” for our “technology buck”!

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