Tearing Down False gods: SAMR Pushback Begins (Updated)

Update: SAMR Scam? via @drvcourt and Use and misuse of the title of 'Doctor' via Tamublogger

The SAMR pushback begins...are you ready to relegate SAMR to the stack of technology integration models?

Source: Doug "Blue Skunk" Johnson's I don't really want a 1 to 1 program.
Read more about first vs second order change online.

Are you gauging the success of all your technology integration initiatives using the SAMR Model, created by Dr. Ruben Puentedura? If you are, that's not a surprise...lots of educators are! In fact, I believe I have a whole one word tag dedicated to tracking my blog entries on SAMR. And, you can find various Models of Technology Integration, a resource co-created by Dr. Roland Rios and I for the TCEA Campus Leaders Academy in 2013. And, let's not forget the ill-fated Classroom Learning Activity Rubric, a table of information so overwhelming that no educator could ever scale the heights of perfection. Do any of these models actually work? Only as conversation starters and ways of encouraging folks along the journey.

When one local district first adopted SAMR, it was chosen as the most "current" option of available guides--Dr. Chris Moersch's LOTI, TIMS, TPACK--for assessing successful technology use. Perhaps, more importantly, it was intended to help guide creation of instructional activities that were at a modification level or higher. Why waste time with Substitution or Augmentation? Unfortunately, many see SAMR as a continuum, and activities fall into place all along it...some can be encouraged to sprout wings and fly to the higher levels of modification or redefinition, while others must scurry along the lower levels.

No matter where you go these days, you can find information on SAMR and how it's been used in collaboration with iPad deployments (in fact, I recall Apple contracted with Dr. Ruben Puentadura).

But in the last week or so, I've started to see some pushback against the SAMR Model. My first encounter with anti-SAMR sentiment was Mark Samberg's Why I'm done with SAMR. He writes:
 I am SICK TO DEATH of the SAMR Model....the biggest thing is that SAMR does not address instructional context. It focuses solely on the task without looking at the instruction that goes behind it. SAMR doesn’t force teachers and leaders to ask “is the tool being used the right tool for the job?” A redefinition lesson may be shiny, it may be engaging, it may be interesting, and it may be effective. But it might also take five days for the same instructional benefit that could be achieved in a substitution lesson in an hour. By contrast, a substitution lesson may not contain the richness of a redefinition lesson, and students may not gain some of the context they otherwise would.
And, then more recently, LeiLani Cauthen at The Learning Council asserts the following:
What’s wrong with this, you say? Only just one tiny thing. It is used to describe change within the traditional paradigm of school, whether that be an individual classroom with a teacher’s individual practice or a school or a district. It rarely considers contextualization against the new models of school that are being created and experimented with. Rarely does SAMR spark the conversation of changing the paradigm. Practically speaking, this is a major and fundamental flaw. Source: What's Wrong with SAMR in Education?
According to Ms. Cauthen, SAMR fits an old model--school as we knew it, not school as it is becoming--and is simply, incomplete because it doesn't reflect new realities:
The real question in education surrounding SAMR is why we need the artificiality of an institution for learning. It imposes an artificiality of space, physicality and time. With the internet we have conquered all three. When the function of learning can be done directly, then the form of learning can be a one-to-one direct model with no intermediary of space and time and personnel.
Few models seem to endure, but I would like to point out that models like the LOTI do account for learning outside the bounds of the classroom. The problem is, there's a need, not so much for a new model, but a new model people can get behind because they need something new to clamor about.

Go ahead, tear down your SAMR god...whatever you put in its place will serve for a time then be smashed to the ground. Not because the gods are unworthy, but because you invested them with so much of your understanding that when you grew, you failed to see how the model serves as a springboard for thinking, not a locked room that keeps fresh ideas out.

Not sure if I'm getting at the idea properly. In the course of our lives, we adopt, and drop, ideas as our theory, our understanding of the world deepens. Does that mean we discard those models that served as springboards? Not necessarily...we can use them to provide different lenses to analyze our current experiences in light of the past, then re-conceptualize their role.

Update: You may also want to read I Smell a RAT: The Truth about Evaluating Digital Pedagogy by Adam Webster. Thanks to Greg Kulowiec for sharing the link!

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


Anita McPartland-Lancaster ISD said…
Miguel...read The Learning Counsel article today. I agree that the different models may serve as springboards to apply to our current experiences. I believe SAMR can be a starting place to get teachers thinking started...when they are hesitant. But teachers have to look at what is best for what is being taught...the model and the tool.
jnxyz said…
Umm, if a redefinition lesson can't teach in 5 days what a substitution lesson can in 1, then its not redefinition. End of story.
Unknown said…
This is not just beginning of the pushback. I wrote on this back in March (http://www.e-ohagan.com/a-critical-review-of-puenteduras-samr/). And in that post there is a link (http://spelvetenskap.blogspot.com/2013/10/open-letter-to-dr-ruben-puentedura.html) to pushback from a theoretical standpoint from 2013!

Perhaps more of a mass realization that another teacher-centered model that assumes learning occurs at the M and R levels is not going to move the needle. It's subjective and is mashed up in hideous ways (http://www.e-ohagan.com/please-stop-calling-samr-a-model-for-technology-integration/) with researched models (again mostly teacher-centered) like TPACK.

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