What is the best way to encourage teachers to extend themselves from task enhancement to task transformation using the SAMR model?

This is a question I ask myself every day in my role as EdTech Coach. I think the best way to encourage teachers to extend towards Redefining tasks with technology is to help them understand that certain literacy skills can only be taught through technology.

Recently I delivered a Digital Literacy PD session which addressed using the SAMR model to better deliver Digital Literacy skills in the classroom. The PD focused on breaking down Digital Literacy into Six Multi-Literacy Strands. I used MediaSmarts as a resource for defining these six strands further and created this visual to showcase the importance of preparing students for a networked, media-rich world:

MultiLiteracies of a DigitalAge
Created by Jocelyn Sutherland. Symbols from CC Google Image Search. Inspired by definition of Digital Literacy


I used the CommonSense Media video on the SAMR model which does a brilliant job of extending beyond the Substitution and Augmentation phase:

In my role, I am less concerned with my own implementation of SAMR and more concerned with how I can coach teachers to adopt this model of thinking in their own classrooms. In theory, SAMR makes sense, but in practice it takes a lot more planning and thinking outside the box. As part of the PD session I led, I developed this planning guide for teachers to use to transform a unit using the SAMR model (PDF here):

Tuesday Oct 27th- Digital Literacy & Citizenship (1)

I hoped that by making a link between the Multi-Literacies in a Digital Age and SAMR, teachers would see how important it is to teach these literacies using technological devices and platforms. For example, it’s necessary for students to be exposed to networking on social media in order to learn and practice social literacy. Furthermore, information literacy now encompasses the scope of researching on the internet, therefore students must have access to digital sources in order to decipher which sources are reliable. According to MediaSmarts, media literacy is defined as:

“… ‘text’ that includes images, audio and digital media, media literacy is closely associated with digital literacy. Media literacy reflects our ability to access, analyze, evaluate and produce media through understanding and appreciation of:

  • the art, meaning and messaging of various forms of media texts
  • the impact and influence of mass media and popular culture
  • how media texts are constructed and why they are produced
  • how media can be used to communicate our own ideas effectively”

This definition further supports the need for students to produce media in order to understand it. Since most media is visual and multi-modal, technological devices such as iPads, laptops, or even cameras are necessary tools to redefine the task of producing media texts. I hope the above planning sheet helps teachers see the importance of making connections between Literacy, Digital Literacy and Technology Integration and that none are mutually exclusive anymore.

This statement by MediaSmarts further highlights the pedagogical shift that needs to happen in schools:

“Technology has shifted the traditional classroom paradigm that positions the teacher as the expert. This can be hard for many educators to accept, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. In our quickly evolving technological world, we are all learners, and teachers who are willing to share responsibility with students are more likely to be comfortable – and effective – in a networked classroom.”

If I were to use the SAMR Model to define my coaching I would showcase it in the following way (my first attempt at Piktochart…lots to learn!):

SAMR EdTech Coach (1)

50% of my role is Redefinition: helping teachers and student rethink learning through iPads, laptops and online platforms. Connecting with other EdTech coaches through online PD like Coetail & Eduro. Showcasing learning using blogs and sharing & connecting on Twitter. Engaging teachers and classrooms in global eLearning through projects like Hour of CodeIf You Learned Here and the Travelling Teddybear Project.

30% of my role is Modification: working with teachers to enhance tasks using iPads; Introducing Blogs and ePortfolio platforms. Using Professional Development workshops to introduce and model ways to embed technology in the curriculum. Technology has modified my delivery of PD as I can have teachers learn apps by using them as part of the workshop. Using Infographics (like above) to summarise my role. Using QR codes on posters to encourage teachers to use their devices.

15% of my role is Augmentation: pushing in to classrooms and helping students and teachers become more technologically literate. This may involve workshop on logging in to GAFE environment and using collaborative GAFE tools, instead of desktop tools.

5% of my role is Substitution: working with teachers to better communicate over email; and substituting paper communication (posters, newsletters) with digital communication via email, GAFE or Schoology platform.

5 Replies to “SAMR = SMART”

  1. Hi Jocelyn,
    You have so many good ideas here! Thanks for sharing. I found it really useful to look at your planning guide and to consider how I could redesign some of my units. I’m interested to know if the teachers in your school shared these after using them? I always find the hardest part of the ‘redefinition’ phase is to understand what that might look like for each learning engagement. Learning from my colleagues (in school and in my PLN) has really helped me to move my understanding forward. I found some useful ideas from this blog ‘8 Examples of transforming lessons through SAMR’.
    It was also very interesting to read your definition of your EdTech/Samr model. It is an effective way of describing your role, but is also reassuring for teachers that you haven’t identified yourself as in the redefinition phase for 100% of the time. Do you aim for these percentages to change at all?
    Thanks for an informative read!

  2. Thanks for the great ideas here, Jocelyn. You quote MediaSmarts as saying ““Technology has shifted the traditional classroom paradigm that positions the teacher as the expert… In our quickly evolving technological world, we are all learners, and teachers who are willing to share responsibility with students are more likely to be comfortable – and effective – in a networked classroom.”
    Do you find that many teachers simply dig in their heels, shake their heads, and say “I’m just not good at tech.”? Do you think it is time that minimal expectations for teachers (like a credential, knowledge of discipline and pedagogy, etc.) should include technological literacy? Does your school–or any that you know of–include such minimal expectations as part of their hiring process? I’m wondering whether it is time for that sort of thing or whether that would be unfair…

  3. Hi @mattfron…Great questions! I couldn’t agree more with you that it’s time schools expect a certain amount of technological literacy in their teachers, or at least a willingness to learn (aka Growth Mindset). As I am in the job-hunt process right now, I can confirm that there are some schools out there seeking these qualities in teachers (and they are part of the interview/application process) but it really depends on the school’s overall vision for education. I think the best way to find out if schools set these expectations is to look at teacher and admin presence online (ex: Twitter). It seems some schools are simply on Twitter to ‘tick a box’ of participating in social media, but the true indicator would be if admin are participating as well. Some key admin I follow are: @paulabaxter67 and @S_ODwyer

    I recently completed the Eduro Coaching Course and made a great connection with an EdTech coach in Saudia (@mrseanwalmsley) who is implementing expectations for teachers, and developing a year-long PD plan (iLearning Initiative ) with his principal. Also my former school in Indonesia initiated DC101 (Digital Citizenship101) at the start of every year where EdTech coaches caught new (and returning) teachers up on their blogging and use of various platforms. Again, it was an expectation at our school that all teachers and students had blogs, and that decision was set by admin. What has your experience been and do you know of any other schools who set expectations for teachers?

  4. Hi Jocelyn
    Interesting break down of your job using the SAMR lens. Something I’ve been wondering a lot of lately is substitution always a bad thing? We often look at SAMR as being a continuum with redefinition the end game. Moreover is redefinition a moving target? Having a classroom blog might have seemed revolutionary 10 years ago but now its common place that I’d argue that a blog in of itself is just an augmentation of what’s on the classroom wall.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *