Photo by Nikita Kachanovsky on Unsplash

As I started looking through the resources for this week, I was reminded of a recent conversation I had with a colleague of mine. We were discussing the relevance of a technology integration coach in education today. 

In this conversation we decided that while yes, there is still a need for individuals to support educators in effectively integrating technology, is this really separate from what would be the job of an instructional coach? In today’s educational landscape…isn’t the integration of technology into our teaching just good practice? 

It seems that many schools are having these discussions. More and more it seems that technology integration coach positions are being replaced by positions like innovation in learning coach. While technology is a tool that can and should be utilized in the classroom, it takes a real mind shift to be able to use it in a way that really transforms learning.

SAMR, TPACK, TIM – are they still relevant?

When looking deeper into the three models presented in this week’s readings (SAMR, TPACK and TIM), I quickly realized how long these have been around. It seemed ridiculous, in 2019, to be reading articles from the late 2000s and early 2010s. However, I stumbled upon an Edutopia article from 2007, Why do we need technology integration? and was shocked to read that many of the same conversations we are having today about tech integration were happening in 2007…(when I was just finishing up high school!)

I then found this EdTech Magazine article from 2019. It refers to a presentation given by Jennifer Brown at the 2019 Illinois Computing Conference in which she urged educators to use the SAMR model to better prepare students for the future. It goes on to share that for educators shifting their pedagogy for the first time, substitution was a good place to start. It gives the example of assigning an essay and asking students to type it instead of writing it by hand. 

It’s hard to believe, that in 2019, this is still a relevant example of substitution. It started to make me wonder…is this model really meant to be used as a step-by-step progression for tech integration? My gut was telling me no.

Alice Keeler’s recent tweet about this really resonated with me. If technology serves no purpose in enhancing an experience, should we bother?

SAMR model – A reflective tool?

I do not view the SAMR model as one which educators should use as a ladder to progress through. However, I do see the power of using a model like the SAMR framework to reflect on how technology is being used in the classroom. 

Thinking about my own practice and the SAMR model, I was quickly able to pull out examples for the different levels. I also pretty quickly realized that the way that students use technology in my classroom has changed pretty significantly over the last few years.

In my first year using iPads in my classroom (1:1), a lot of the experiences that I created were substitution or augmentation experiences – students documenting learning on Book Creator, students completing online research, students using voice recordings/videos to explain thinking. Over the years, I have been able to find new ways to leverage technology – students writing collaboratively with other students around the world, using Flipgrid to connect students with experts, etc.

This brought me to another thought…

You don’t know what you don’t know…

For those with less technological knowledge (as described in the TPACK framework), it can be difficult to identify ways in which technology can be used to transform learning. Therefore, these frameworks can be a really good starting point for educators looking to improve their practice. But to really transform learning, educators need support to identify tools that can help to do this. This is a great (recent) article by Lindsay Portnoy that provides educators with a more relevant explanation and examples of the SAMR model in practice. 

So although these models have been around for a while, I have come to see that they are still relevant…

(My one wish would be that the go-to example for substitution could stop being typing an essay instead of writing it by hand.)