EdTech PD, PD, Technology

Finding the Balance in Technology Integration

Over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to share my Google Innovator Project, BoostEDU, with many educators. BoostEDU offers support to teachers for transforming their current lessons into 21st-century lessons through an inquiry-based process. One of the most important steps of this program is the SAMR self-assessment and the support that it provides teachers in analyzing their lessons.

As I’ve shared BoostEDU with educators, I find myself talking a lot about SAMR and how this model can support educators with infusing technology into teaching and learning. Here is a breakdown of the SAMR model with examples:

Substitution – Technology acts as a direct substitute with no functional change.

  • Example: Students write an essay in Google Docs.

Augmentation – Technology acts as a direct substitute with functional improvement.

  • Example: Students write an essay in Google Docs and receive immediate peer feedback by adding comments.

Modification – Technology allows for significant task redesign.

  • Example: Students write a blog post and share with fellow students from their class.

Redefinition – Technology allows for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable.

  • Example: Students write a blog post, while utilizing other technology (video, graphic design, etc), and share their blog on a global level.

As you can see, each level of SAMR challenges educators to think of ways in which technology can transform their classroom. After all, how many teachers have encouraged students to show their writing skills through blog posts? Or video? Or other multimedia? These are truly transformative ways for students to showcase their learning.

However…I have a potentially unpopular opinion to share. Feel free to disagree but I truly stand by this statement:

Not every lesson should be redefinition, there are times where substitution and augmentation are completely acceptable.

Cue the gasps!

It’s okay if you disagree with me – I won’t be offended. But, I truly believe that there are times when it is okay to be at these levels of technology integration. It’s okay for there to be times when students have to demonstrate skills. It’s okay if there are times where you need to do direct teaching.

Really…it’s okay.

Sometimes I worry that teachers put so much pressure on themselves to be at redefinition, or to be at a constant high level of 4 C’s, or to integrate multiple ISTE standards into every lesson. That can be overwhelming. There is a balance. There are times when you will have a lesson that is at substitution and there will be times where you are reaching redefinition. Both of these levels have a time and a place in the classroom. Mostly, I believe that if you are creating a balance among the levels of SAMR, you will be meeting the needs of your students.

So, I challenge every teacher to find that balance and to feel comfortable about their choices. Try not to feel pressured or overwhelmed by the idea of reaching redefinition in every, single lesson. Instead, find the balance and know that you are doing right by your students.

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