Who Is Technology For?
Though I would regard myself as a reflective practitioner, who has always striven to change practice for the better, learning this week about the SAMR and TIM models offer me really effective frameworks with which to analyse my use of technology in my classroom.
NOTE: Teachers really love an acronym, though don’t we?!
Or rather, as you will see in this blog post, not MY or ME at all in either respect. Our aim should be to move towards the latter end of both technological models offered in the frameworks, with our students as the continuing focal point of everything that we do. It is THEIR classroom, THEIR technology and as a result…both THEIR enjoyment and quality of THEIR education which should be enhanced when technology is used in the best ways (by THEM).
So, how are both frameworks set out?
The SAMR model, first set out by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, elicits that there are observable phases with how technology is used in the classroom. Moving towards the end of the scale (at the top of the picture), technology significantly changes the task at hand and allows our students to achieve and experience previously inconceivable learning (in a previously inconceivable world). Transformation should be our ultimate aim.
The Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) too builds towards the use of technology as transformative, with the infusion stage one step behind. It breaks this up into different types or styles of learning, to help educators analyse further.
HDIPUT? (How Did I Previously Use Technology?)
I trained as a teacher in 2010, so as a result I was lucky to begin teaching at a time when technology was more than readily available. Nonetheless, use of technology at this stage would largely fall into the entry or adoption level of the TIM model, and substitution or augmentation in the SAMR model.
The Interactive Whiteboard was a tried and trusted ever present in my repertoire, and was either used to convey information or to lead the ‘whole class teaching’ (cue script, 1…2…3…go!) I was also fortunate to use a visualiser from the start, which allowed a little more ‘real time’ whole class modeling, but also was a great way to display work to allow for peer and self reflection. As in a British mainstream school, I also taught ‘ICT’ lessons, which at the time largely centered around the classics – Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, etc.
Though at the bottom end of the scale, my personal interest in technology did lead me to ‘dabble’ a little further up the framework, even at these early stages. The children typed short stories for the 100 Word Challenge and added their writing to a Primary Blogger site. As this allowed for collaboration with their peers, and was released to a wider audience (with comments coming in from around the world), this practice moved into the augmentation or modification stages of SAMR. Under the TIM model, it would be firmly in the adaptation stage, due to the fact that it was teacher led and did not spill outside the classroom for the students.
DICWIMTT? (Did It Change When I Moved To Tokyo?)
What if we truly acted like technology was just part of us, part of education, part of educating students today. What if we start embedding it and stopped integrating it? – thethinkingstick.
The main difference, technology-wise, when I moved to Tokyo and began teaching Year 1 was that we had iPads at our disposal. As a team, it is fair to reflect that we included apps too much. In the fervor of excitement about new devices, we fell into the trap of including technology merely as a substitute for our existing practice (the worst example I can think of is using a dice app instead of using actual dice – *shudder*).
Nevertheless, the team that I worked with excellently began to include usage which empowered the students to enter the top of the augmentation stage of the SAMR model, or even modification. In TIM terms, I would say it was adaptation or infusion.
Examples of this were when the children were shown how to use certain apps; but were then free to explore, create and try to solve problems independently. Students used Book Creator and Puppet Pals to retell and create their own stories. They used Google Earth to learn about Geography and the world around them. They dabbled with coding, in the form of ongoing projects that ran for a number of weeks.
Obviously, the children in this year group are young (see link above). But, the learning enabled by technology at this stage was chosen by the teacher, but then directed by the students, with an increasingly flexible approach. This is why it begins to threaten the infusion stage in TIM and the augmentation stage in SAMR.
WAN? (What About Now?)
A few years on, it is fair to say that I have not thrown out all of the previous examples from my classroom environment. Many of them still excite the children and allow them to learn a great deal (if that learning is thought about first, not with the use of a fancy gadget as the sole aim). But this year in particular has been the one (with the help of COETAIL, of course) where I have truly sought to inspire the children to take their learning well beyond the classroom walls, to collaborate with each other in a host of positive ways and to be in charge of their own education.
In the best cases, technology usage among my pupils is trickling into the transformation stage of the TIM model and the redefinition stage of the SAMR framework. I would suggest that the majority of practice still lies a step behind that, but we are all certainly pushing in the right direction. I really like the cyclical nature of the below visual, which summarises the process which is taking place in my classroom, on a continuous basis.
Sometimes, to get the most out of the short time slots that we have available, we do have to direct learning just a little.
Most students will still need a guide to help them use digital tools effectively for learning and collaboration – Edutopia, How To Integrate Technology.
But, as this website states, “the teacher will no longer be the center of attention.” I am moving on a daily basis, more towards being a learning coach; as opposed to the ‘sage on the stage’. As is suggested in the guide description link, we have to have a “willingness to embrace change,” especially with technology.
Examples include how last week, the children researched the Guru Granth Sahib and the Gurdwara as part of their learning about Sikhism in Religious Studies (see my Final Project for Course 1). They did so using a choice of videos on Blendspace. They worked in pairs to communicate this information in their own words using the Camera app on iPads, then uploaded their videos onto their collaborative SeeSaw blog. The interesting part of this, is that once completed, they independently saw the potential of commenting and liking each others posts, after watching. I was then able to review the process (as you have to verify all new posts) and coach them with helpful blog comments and misconceptions that arose over the topic matter.
Though I chose the tools on this occasion, the children then utilised them to their full potential independently. The cumulative nature of learning in this scenario meant that the students learnt so much more than if they had just written it silently into their books. Collaboration, self-directed study and a real culture of creativity was evident. The students were certainly acting well within the infusion stage of the TIM model in this example, and perhaps the redefinition stage of the SAMR framework.
A second example is a Movie Making Club that I run once a week. The children have become really adept at using iMotion to create their own Stop Motion Animation mini-movies. I modeled the use of this tool initially, but through the weeks, the children have independently directed their own scenes, transitions and framing. The short films that they have made are really unique, and again the level of collaboration and creativity that they have shown is remarkable. The most exiting and rewarding stages for the pupils is in the editing, where they have shown real skill in using iMovie to create soundtracks, intro and outro sequences, and more transitions.
Again, though teacher led initially, these projects have really grown as the children have worked together more. I would suggest that again this example has shifted towards the end of both TIM and SAMR models.
AG! (Absolutely Genius!)
I leave you today with a few examples of Google Slides presentations made collaboratively in my class. The children, I can see online, are currently working away on them voluntarily at home – a sure fire sign that learning is spilling beyond the classroom walls. The details of the set up can be found here: Genius Hour Blog Post, which is the only direct teacher led input. Namely, the students are entirely in charge of what they do and what they learn, and they will need to present their Slides in a couple of weeks time. Beyond a 10 minute introduction, I merely coached them with their initial choice of projects and with small aspects of the Slides and information thereafter.
The quality of the presentations is exceptional, with the only negative being that the children have not yet thought to take their projects beyond the slides themselves. I would say that these projects are moving swiftly towards the transformative stages of both frameworks listed, but perhaps to truly cement this we would look for the pupils to begin including different forms of media, e.g. videos embedded about their chosen projects, perhaps shot by the children themselves. Always good to have a next step, and absolutely something that I will share with them for future projects.
That said, these projects are further proof that if students are given the opportunity to be creative and excited about their learning, then what they experience and what they learn can be truly transformative. As independence and collaboration grows, so will their brains.