Technology and the Right Question

How often does your district implement new technology into your classroom?

This is something my district does quite often, and it is great! New technologies can increase the speed, range, scope, and experiences that students have. Student learning can be improved because of this tech, and it can even make me a more effective teacher.

But new technologies can also be a drag.

Sometimes that fresh and new technology is introduced, but I just can’t seem to find a place for it. Maybe the technology doesn’t meet a need of my students, or maybe it is inefficient for the circumstances of the classroom. Perhaps you have similar experiences with new technologies.

In education, we often ask a very important question – how can we use this brand new technology? However, there is a different, just as important question that often times we forget to ask.

How does this brand new technology help improve student learning?

From district coordinators to classroom teachers, it is important that we ask this question every time we consider a new technology.

Image created by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, Ph.D.

There is a great framework of thinking for approaching new technology called SAMR, developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura. In short, SAMR helps teachers determine how technology is, or can be, used during instruction. The four different levels (which mirror Bloom’s Taxonomy to an extent) are substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition.

If you want to learn more about SAMR, you can check this pretty thorough write-up from Kathy Schrock here. It explains what SAMR is, how it connects to Bloom’s Taxonomy, and how it applies to your classroom.

We need to ask how tech improves student learning more often. Education can tend to chase after the “flavor of the day” when it comes to technology. Often times a single article or research paper is all that is needed for districts to change the entire focus of their school year (like Grit in schools). It is of utmost importance that, while we maintain our enthusiasm for positive change, to also challenge new ideas and not only ask how, but also why.

How do you use new technology in your classroom, in regards to SAMR?

How can a model of top-down tech integration be improved?

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