How high up the #edtech integration ladder do you climb?

Ed Tech

Ed Tech | Monday, June 24, 2013

How high up the #edtech integration ladder do you climb?

The “Indiana EdTech Summer Road Trip” is in full swing.

I have the distinct pleasure this summer of presenting at several of the Indiana Department of Education’s “Summer of eLearning” regional conferences. They’re fantastic, inexpensive resources for teachers who want to engage students with technology and quality teaching.

So far, I’ve presented and learned at Center Grove’s iPossibilities conference, East Noble’s Knight Time Technology 3.0 conference, and Lafayette School Corp.’s Ride the Wave of eLearning conference.

I’ve picked up new digital tools and new ways to use some I already knew. All three have been great experiences, and I still have five conferences left to present at (see my presenting schedule in this blog post).

One presentation really opened my mind to a powerful framework for teaching with technology. Becca Lamon, assistant superintendent of East Noble schools (, shared the four levels of technology integration in the classroom.

I would file this concept under “The basics that any tech-using educator MUST know.”

This model, called SAMR, shows how technology progresses from enhancing lessons to totally transforming education. (The image below is taken from Lamon’s presentation at Knight Time Technology 3.0.)

SAMR model

Substitution and Augmentation: So many teachers get stuck in substitution. I know I did. For a while, I thought I was doing really innovative teaching by finding simple activities online that were practically the same as the ones in our textbooks and workbooks. (You know, before I ditched those textbooks.)

Notes on a PowerPoint presentation instead of notes on a paper handout. Write on Word documents instead of notebooks.

The change of scenery can help with engagement at the beginning, but all in all, no real change.

Augmentation is substitution’s slightly smarter cousin. In this level, life is easier for student, teacher or both. But the learning is practically the same.

Lamon’s example: students taking a quiz on a Google Form rather than with paper and pencil. Grading is easier. Taking the quiz is, too. But the learning experience is still practically the same. Not transformative at all.

Modification and Redefinition: Substitution and augmentation aren’t bad in and of themselves. In fact, in many cases, they’re better than old-school teaching.  But today’s technology can create learning experiences that are better than they could be without.

That’s where modification and redefinition come into play. Modification can take previous classroom activities and change them in previously unattainable ways. Students used to journal, but now they’re writing in blogs. When those blogs help them connect to others in the classroom and community as well as store their writings, this activity goes to the next level.

Redefinition is the apex. It means education that was impossible before the technology.

Think global collaboration. Multimedia presentations. Student-generated learning. Using our 21st-Century skills to do things that students in previous decades – a few years ago, even – couldn’t do.

Redefinition is the king of education technology.

But it doesn’t mean that substitution and augmentation are second-class citizens. Modification isn’t either. These are all greater engagement strategies than the ones that existed before current technology came along.

But if we want the best for our students, we should constantly climb the SAMR ladder. (Thanks, Becca.)

(For notifications of new Ditch That Textbook content and helpful links, “like” Ditch That Textbook on Facebook and follow @jmattmiller on Twitter!)

FREE teaching ideas and templates in your inbox every week!
Subscribe to Ditch That Textbook
Love this? Don’t forget to share