As I reflect on my understanding of educational technology, I can’t help to think about how much my knowledge and teaching practices have changed over the past five years. Over the course of the past five years, I have been blessed to teach with Regina Catholic School Division. Not only have I worked with some very strong teachers in technological areas (See Matt Bresciani & Jennifer Owens), I have been a part of the connected educator program. Through experimenting in the classroom, professional development, and collaborating with a strong network of teachers using technology, I have been able to develop a deeper understanding of how to use technology in a positive and meaningful way in the classroom. Although I’ve had mostly positive experiences while using technology, I also realize that there are some challenges and problems with overuse and unnecessary use of technology in the classroom. The reality of technology is that it’s always evolving and changing, leading teachers to stay informed and educated on a wide variety of topics. My previous two classes, ECI 830 and ECI 832 have also had an impact of how I view and understand things such as the ethics of using technology in my classroom.
When thinking about EdTech in my own classroom, I utilize the SAMR Model to help me understand how I am doing at a particular time with technology usage.
When new to technology, I still remember that much of what I was doing was focused on the substitution level of SAMR. In basic terms, this was simply replacing traditional activities with digital versions. An example of this would be students using OneNote in the classroom to write notes instead of pen and paper. They are really learning the exact same thing, just using a laptop to do it. Although there is nothing wrong with substitution in the classroom, as this is generally where teachers become comfortable, you eventually want to take it further as you become more experienced and comfortable. In addition, if we are only ever using technology to substitute in the classroom, I’m not sure that the increased screen time is worth it for our students.
In my classroom, I would say that I’m probably the most comfortable with the augmentation level of SAMR. “This level involves incorporating interactive digital enhancements and elements like comments, hyperlinks, or multimedia. The content remains unchanged, but students can now take advantage of digital features to enhance the lesson” (Youki Terada, 2020). When looking at digital portfolios, parents are able to view their child’s digital portfolio via Seesaw, 24/7. In terms of formative assessment, students can receive instant feedback via Go Formative on a quiz they have taken. I think there are so many ways we can improve our lessons when working on the augmentation level of SAMR.
The last two sections, modification and redefinition, are extremely beneficial for students, as they provide many opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be available wihtout technology. Whether it’s connecting with a class across the world through Flipgrid or creating their own blog on an environmental issue, students have a much larger and expanded audience. Students can solve and address real world problems when working on this level of the SAMR model.
Through my work in the connected educator program over the past four years, I’ve always focused on using the SAMR swimming pool analogy. To put it very simply, one can swim laps across the swimming pool to ensure we are hitting the various levels of the SAMR model. One might also be more comfortable in one area of the pool versus another. Regardless of where we are on the SAMR model, there is plenty of opportunity to swim across the pool, even if it requires some support.
Beyond the fancy tools and resources used by teachers in the classrooms, I think it’s vital to develop some key skills and competencies in students. The 21st Century Learning Skills provide a good framework and understanding of some of the skills we should be developing in our students. In a world full of technology, I believe it’s crucial that we teach our students the critical thinking skills to be successful. As they are exposed to fake news quite often, we much teach them the skills and abilities to identify and understand what they are consuming. There are many ways in which was can ensure we are leveraging technology to promote 21st century learning in our classrooms.
Overall, I think that educational technology is about using technology in the classroom to develop the skills and competencies needed to live in the everchanging world. Whether that’s learning how to collaborate, critically analyzing messages in the media, or addressing social issues, I think we can leverage this technology to develop strong skills in our students.