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Substitute your pen for tech

You cannot run until you can walk...

There are a number of acronyms that get bandied around a great deal when discussing education.  Dr Ruben Puentedura's SAMR model is one that merits discussion.  SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition and is a useful acronym to consider when implementing technology use in the classroom. Here is a helpful visual that explains each of the initials in relation to technology:

The goal, when using technology in the classroom, is to transform the education process and not simply to enhance it.   The ideal is to move beyond Substitution and Augmentation otherwise what is the point of using technology, what extra will the use of technology bring to a student?  Accessing this ideal of transformative teaching can be a cause of concern for many colleagues who are not comfortable or confident using technology.  Puentedura (2012) suggests that it can take up to three years for an institution to transform teaching by using technology to modify and redefine tasks. 

As a school that is in the process of embedding use of Surface Pro and Microsoft's Office 365 I have recently had the pleasure of helping colleagues become comfortable using OneNote, Class Notebook and other Office 365 tools.    I have enjoyed this challenge and it has become apparent to me that in the first instance, when a colleague is not confident about the technology, we should not disparage the first step of Substitution.  Enabling teachers to be confident to use Class Notebook or any other tool is a very important first step even if their students are not doing anything more than they can do with pen and paper.  

If in Redefining tasks colleagues are finally running with technology, Substitution represents learning to walk.  As the adage goes - you can not run until you can walk.  Once colleagues are able to Substitute their pen for technology and are confident to use technology, they can then learn how to be confident about when and how to use technology efficiently to Redefine tasks.  However, that’s a whole new blogpost.

Image & Photo credits:
SAMR diagram: Wikimedia commons -

Puentedura, R. (2012). Thinking About Change in Learning and Technology. Presentation given September 25, 2012 at the 1st Global Mobile Learning Conference,  Al Ain, UAE.


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