Beyond a SAMR Snapshot: COD Pilot

Jason Markey shared with me a post from Mikkel Storaasli that gives an overview of SAMR including a great introductory video. It is one of the data collection instruments GBN is using to triangulate the data in our pilot is observations using the SAMR Model and one that is clearly popular these days in the technology world (I’ve seen it promoted recently by some heavy hitters and heavy tech companies).


And with good reason as it is grounded in solid design (pdf):

  • the focus is on what students are doing more than on what teachers are doing
  • the simplicity makes it digestible for teachers and provides considerable opportunity for discussion
  • the model is scalable as organizational capacity is built
  • the ladder honors various capacities and entry points

However, I have recently spoken at a variety of functions about the need to see beyond just a snapshot with SAMR. In other words, the problem with it lies in judging the value of technology solely from how it is used instead of also seeing technology for what it does to the entire classroom environment.

For example, a snapshot using SAMR perhaps yields an enhancement level. If one was to go back to a teacher over and over with the same result, it would be easy to misjudge this classroom experience. However, what if the use of technology at the augmentation level freed up more time in the classroom for inquiry-based learning, collaboration and creation time, and other learner-centered experiences that may or may not include technology?

While the technology isn’t at a transformative level, the class is engaged in transformative ways not possible without the technology being used at the enhancement level.

That is Why…

… I love blending it with a version of the three questions that Devin Schoening uses with his teachers:

  1. Does it make things easier/more efficient?
  2. Does it alter a past learning experience?
  3. Does it create an experience not otherwise possible?

While these can be tagged within the SAMR model, it focuses more on a holistic view of the classroom and helps me understand what the teacher was trying to achieve as a whole with the use of technology.

I also…

… believe SAMR alone is relatively weak and needs to be triangulated with other measures to fully grasp the complexity of a learning environment. For example, simply labeling a use of technology as “Redefinition” doesn’t necessarily equate to a positive impact on engagement or learning.

SAMR Observation Instrument

The observation instrument we’ve created is rather simple and built as a Google Form. The core of it is to understand what is happening in the classroom as a whole (what are students doing with or because of the technology) and provide a clear rationale for said placement.





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