I used to think of the SAMR and TPACK — two technology integration models — kind of like a mountain.
The higher you climbed the mountain, the better the mountain climber you were.
As I dig deeper into the two models, I’m starting to find there’s a lot more nuance there than I realized.
Using technology well, as common sense would tell you, has everything to do with your goal.
A quick summary of the two models:
SAMR — It stands for four levels of technology integration in education:
TPACK — It’s represented by three overlapping circles. Each circle represents a different kind of knowledge that goes into a lesson:
When I first came across these two models, two things immediately came to mind:
“Wow, how did I not learn about these sooner?”
“I want to be in the dark blue area of SAMR and the brownish triangle in the middle of TPACK all the time!”
I even wrote a blog post asking “How high up the edtech ladder do you climb?”
I’ve since realized how frustrating it can be if you see “redefinition” and “TPACK” as your highest goals. Some activities are just not made for those levels.
Example: learning vocabulary. It’s extremely important in my Spanish classroom. There are some activities that incorporate some vocabulary learning that could reach the highest levels of SAMR. But to be at its most efficient, lower levels of that model will work.
Not everything has to be redefinition. Modification and augmentation are certainly useful too, and in many cases, that’s all that you need the technology to do to enhance learning. (And after all, isn’t that our goal in the end?)
I would argue that we can always do better than simple substitution, though. As devices and software and web apps and such continue to improve, there’s almost always a better way to do something than replicating it with technology (with the “$1,000 pencil,” as I’ve heard it explained).
I found this image by Tim Klapdor on Flickr to be an interesting interpretation of the emotions that go with SAMR. His chart shows some things to me pretty clearly (in my own interpretation, of course):
Again, that’s my own interpretation and I’d love to hear yours if it’s different in the comments section below.
As a TPACK rookie, I’m finding it as a valuable planning tool. It makes me think of Zig Ziglar’s wheel of life (here’s a blog post about it by Chris LoCurto), where there are seven segments that make the wheel complete:
If one part of the wheel is left out, it’s no longer a wheel and it needs improvement to roll smoothly again. (Makes me think of a flat tire.)
TPACK helps me keep everything in balance. As I plan, I make sure that the content I’m delivering is solid. I ensure that there are sound teaching fundamentals. And I make sure that the technology tools and processes are a good fit for what we want to do.
If everything’s there, often we will roll smoothly.
So, really, I don’t have to climb to the summit of the SAMR or TPACK mountains to achieve edtech greatness.
Instead of being a mountain climber, I should think of myself as a carpenter. I plan the course and choose the best tools possible to construct the best experience.
How do you view SAMR and/or TPACK. Do you interpret it differently than I do? Add your thoughts in a comment below!
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