(Originally published in the Richmond Share website)
I will begin this post with a confession: although I have been involved in EFL and digital education projects for quite some time, I am not a heavy user of technology; I don’t really own a myriad of smart devices and, most of the time, I tend to prefer taking notes on a good, old notepad. While not resistant to change, I believe I am fairly skeptical that one device or app, or digital service, will single-handedly change my classroom practice.
This skepticism might come from my observation of waves of services and gadgets that have made brief appearances in our lives only to fade into a blur of one of those “I don’t know why I bothered” memories. Many of us will certainly remember the promise of a fantastic future made by Google Glass and how Pokémon Go would revolutionise education; we also probably remember how they simply left the stage with little notice yielding very few profitable learning experiences.
Not only have these fads made me skeptical about how the way we usually rely on technology impacts education, but they have also made me wonder about how to assess the validity of new developments in EdTech that could actually benefit my students’ learning experiences: how do we embrace a framework that will help us look beyond the marketing chit-chat that often accompanies new releases?
A couple years ago, I came across the work of Dr. Ruben Puentedura, a US-based researcher and professor who spent a number of years advocating change and reform in education. In 2013, he proposed the SAMR model, a hierarchical framework to assess the role learning technologies play in our classroom and whether – that’s my personal take – we should bother rather than simply sticking to a very straightforward photocopiable resource.
If you watched the video above (please do!), you could probably notice how it places an augmentation layer onto this blog post. Sure, I could have written about the SAMR model, but my classroom experience tells me that (a) audio/video resources such as podcasts and video-explanations tend to be more engaging than a single written source and; (b) hearing a story from the horse’s mouth is more effective than reporting it.
To wrap up, the focus of our discussion should not be about the validity of one tool, such as the Google Classroom, or Kahoot!, for example. Rather, we should be having interesting projects about whether these tools solve some of the challenges we face – or will face – in our classrooms.
Have you been using the SAMR model in your teaching practice? Would you like to? Leave a comment and share your experiences and questions!