Using Multiple Instructional Models – SAMR and TPCK

It appears that most people are looking at my Why We Need Learning Theories post.  I think combining instructional models fall into a similar thought.  My current internal visual is actually using various magnifying glasses to closely examine an instructional design through multiple perspectives.  I would argue that good designers do just that – look at their work from multiple perspectives.

Not long ago I ran across the SAMR Model developed by Ruben Puentedura as a framework for evaluating how technology is being implemented in teaching.  Here is a visual of the model:

SAMR full model

Basically if the technology integration is at the substitution or augmentation level you will not expect to see much change in the teaching.  It is when the technology is integrated at the modification or redefinition level that we see transformation in education.

At AECT during a session on MOOCs David Wiley talked about how we know what strategies work well in a face to face setting with a class of 20, perhaps we just haven’t found the strategies that work in a really large course online.  Which made me think of this model – what are the strategies to integrate technology so that is causes the teaching/learning to be modified or redefined and thus transform the teaching/learning?

I wanted to review Dr. Puentedura’s work and was only able to find conference presentations posted on his blog and some YouTube videos.

In watching one of his longer presentations, I saw that he uses several models, including Mishra & Koehler’s  TPCK model.  At the beginning of the second part of the presentation Dr. Puentedura talked about the model in a way that gave me a new perspective on TPCK.  He states that you need to think about the content, pedagogy and technology “at the same time.” (at 3:05) They need to be connected and brought together.  There needs to be an opportunity for the content, pedagogy and technology to have equal influence on the design. This fits with my own best experiences where I am discussing a specific course with a faculty and bringing my technology and pedagogical expertise to the table with their content and pedagogical expertise to find best strategies in moving their course to a hybrid or online model.


I like how he easily jumps from model to model, making connections across them.  Which is better seen in the first part of the presentation. I think all too often people get “stuck” into one way of thinking – I use this model and this is the best model for me and my course/students, I will always use this model.  I’m all for models – they help make the design of courses transparent.  But I do like looking as a design through various lenses – which is what I feel Dr. Puentedura is recommending and modeling in his presentation.


In an interview with Stefan Olsa from the Center för Skolutveckling in Sweeden he says something at the end of the interview that caught my attention.  The question was where do you see schools in about ten years? (at 3:55) He would hope to see a school where the technology is integrated at the redefinition level, “where the students become the true owners of their own learning.”

Skills for 21st Century Teachers

I ran across this list today 33 Digital Skills Every 21st Century Teacher Should Have.

That is a long list!

I’m not sure I even know how to do every single one of those things. But I can see how they should be part of a 21st Century Teacher’s toolkit.

There is one important thing I would add to the list. I think regardless of the century you find yourself teaching in should be the skill to continue to learn. Granted, generally teachers like learning, at least the good ones do. So all the skills listed would simply be part of the one skill I see is most important – Keep Learning.

I wonder how many teacher preparation programs teach or provide opportunities to learn these skills? That would be an interesting study…

Technology Philosophy Statement

In one of my recent courses I was asked to create a technology philosophy statement.  I have written teaching philosophy statements, but this was the first time I actually thought about my technology philosophy.  Rather than a written document, I created a Prezi.

Finding the Best Tools for eLearning

Not long ago I was working in an office and needed to hire a new employee.  The work was basic office stuff, answering phones, using word and excel for letters and reports.  Going through a temp agency, I was able to “try” people out.  After two people didn’t work out I told the agency that I needed someone who understood Excel.  The next call I got from the agency told me they found someone who declared that “Excel was her best friend.”  Great!  I was ecstatic.  I had some concerns that perhaps she may need some new friends, but she knew Excel so I knew I could teach her the rest.

Excel is a specific type of software.  It does more than most people would ever think about doing with spreadsheets, however there are limits.  Most people learn Excel and then want to do things that are complicated at best for Excel, but are perfectly simple for a database program like Access.  Unfortunately, Access “thinks” differently than Excel and requires a bit (or a huge chunk) of a learning curve.  Finding the technology tool for the job at hand can be daunting, but must be done if technology is to be used well.

I tell you my story of Excel, because it is an easy example of how people gravitate to one program or software type and cling to it as the solution to everything.  It is like they take their beloved Excel and brandish it like the hammer which will solve all technological problems.  “We’ll just put it in a spreadsheet and then we can have these formulas combine these cells and voilà….it will be easy.” (There has got to be a Dilbert comic about this.)

There are limitations to all software.  Taking the time to understand the limitations of the software could save much heartache and time for educators and administrators.  Taking time to understand the problem is key in choosing software.  All too often, people have adopted software without understanding its limitations, expecting it to turn education around.

I have collected a number of links to Technology Tools that could be useful for an educational setting.  I have not tested them all.  I do not know the limitations of ALL of them.  However, given a situation, I can search with the specifications in hand to find a smaller list of possibilities which can then be tested.

Here is what I would do

  1. Understand the context.
    •  Who are the students? (k-3, 8th graders, graduate students) What is the content? (Math, Computers, Philosophy) What do they need to DO? (presentation, pictures, video, screen capture, audio) What is the bare minimum you want from the final product? (in other words what is absolutely essential)
  2. Evaluate the limitations.
    • What are the people (both students and instructors) familiar with?  How difficult is the content of the final product? (You could have more complex technology if the content is on the easier side of things.)  What are the technology limitations? (file size, varying Operating Systems, bandwidth, accessibility, cost)
  3. Evaluate current options.
    • Using the base familiarity are their functions in a current tool that people just need to learn?
  4. Search for alternatives.
    • All too often instructors feel that if they use a tool they need to be the support desk for all possible problems.  This is impossible.  One item that I feel is important in a tool is its own help documentation.  With  decent help documentation many students can figure out what they need.
  5. Be flexible.
    • First and foremost the learning objectives need to be met.  Don’t let the desire to use a new technology detract from the learning. Understand that there will be limitations but by emphasizing the learning objective you can assess a final product regardless of the technology.

So, for a concrete example… You want the students to put together a presentation that can be shared with all the students in the class.  Your students are mainly in your hometown, but you have some students in New York, Texas and China.  You’ve establish the criteria for the content, you would like a visual (like PowerPoint) but you also need the students to record audio to accompany the presentation.

Yes, PowerPoint is able to record and embed audio – but the files are large and there will be some extra saving options to make sure the audio is contained in the file.

On my list of Tech Tools you will find many options for presentations, not all of them will meet the requirements of the project – visuals and audio.  But knowing that you NEED those items can help filter out others fairly quickly.

Again, the instructor DOES NOT need to be the expert on all the possibilities.  The instructor does need to be the expert on the content, assessment criteria and know where support options are available to the students.  If anything, the instructor should understand what kind of final product file or link is needed so that ALL the students can view the presentation.  Who knows, you may have a student in the class that is really comfortable with an amazing tool.  But if you require everyone to do a PowerPoint, that student will never share their expertise.

Mobile Technology “Literacies”…

Well, not really that new, as technology has been with us for a while.  But as technology changes and the younger generations take all these amazing, wonderful, sometimes unbelievable things in at record speeds, the ethics, appropriateness and guidance from the previous generations is absent.  Sometimes it is all so new that we don’t quite understand the impact ourselves.  But it still remains with us, adults to help the younger generation learn the skills – both logical and emotional to create wise paths into the upcoming technology.

An article from Educause –  Mobile Perspectives: On teaching Mobile Literacy brings up some of these critical “literacy” issues.  I loved the following quote:

“The future our students will inherit is one that will be mediated and stitched together by the mobile web, and I think that ethically, we are called on as teachers to teach them how to use these technologies effectively.”

Modern Movable Type

The invention of the printing press came up in passing during a lecture in my “Instruction in Electronic Formats” class the other night and my mind took a scenic route for a moment…

As those inventors of movable type printing presses (Gutenberg is the famous European – but there were some earlier inventions in the Orient) placed their blocks in line, amazing themselves at how much easier printing would be I don’t think they could even begin to imagine how we are able to “move type” today.

With a simple input device and very small movements we can transfer huge amounts of text through copy and paste, correct a misspelling, share anything digital with people thousands of miles away in an instant.  Talk about movable type!

If you think about it, we are much more engaged with words and letters – all be it not extremely tactile with a mouse and a keyboard.  Information flows freely and in abundance.  Words, phrases some with deep meaning are sent into the digital world, some read by many and shared to the point of becoming viral, others to simply be.

But we all have this desire to create the words and the short 140 character tweets.  We follow, we retweet, we watch for those who listen to us.  We look for meaning and understanding both from others and any who will listen, follow, share or watch.  We add images with a simple click.  Putting myself in the shoes of those first inventors, I can see how all this would appear truly magical to them.  I can’t even begin to imagine what they would have thought about something like this – Scale of the Universe.

So as we talk about all these incredible tools we have I think we need to stop and pay attention to the everyday miracles and magic of modern movable type.

Program or be programmed?

I recently ran across a talk by Douglas Rushkoff given to Google entitled “Don’t Forget About the Humans“.  I then went to explore some of his writings, interview and such.  And while some of the others near me at the time I was listening to the presentation thought some of the ideas were strange.  I think in reality they hit just a little too close to home.

With the need for technology, more and more we give up control to the programmers. Now I have absolutely nothing against programmers – they are creative, ingenious, work hard and do some amazing things with technology.  However, I do have a problem when it is left up to the programmers to also be the teachers.  Or when teachers back away from what they know to be best due to a programming issue.

One of the points Douglas Rushkoff made was the lack of verbal, tonal, emotional and body language cues when we are online.  As he put it “We all have Aspergers.”  We lose all the “bandwidth” of the rich communication that can happen when people are face-to-face.  So what does this mean for teaching?

At the very core of teaching is communication.  When we move a class online something needs to be done to compensate for the loss of the language cues.  I know as a teacher that often a look was enough to change the choice of a student.  So how do you do that online?  I knew a teacher who would put in excess cues to help her students remember the important topics.  She would simply have to ask the student “Remember the day I wore my bunny slippers to school?” and the student would respond “Oh, yes and you put the (insert topic or information) on the overhead in green and red.”

As we move forward into a world that only a few can imagine, it becomes difficult as a teacher.  How can we prepare our students to be successful when we ourselves at times feel like we are drowning in the tech information and possibilities.  As Frank Pileiro describes in his article Web 2.0 – Like Drinking Water from a Fire Hose, the technology should always support the curricular goals. (There is a good comment on this article as well describing how a teacher let the students choose the technology to support the objectives.)

There are movements towards a more user friendly, customizable interface (Why the iPad is Different)  and schools that are using the latest technology and virtual interfaces (Taking School to the Nest Level). But in the end we as consumers, teachers, people need to make sure that we are controlling the technology and not letting the technology control us.

I see a great need for people to work together, across disciplines.  For teams of experts to learn to talk across boundaries and people to translate the jargon so everyone can understand and move forward together.  So that the humans can be the programmers rather than being programmed.

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