It’s NOT the App! It’s the Purpose

I’ve spent many nights thinking about the SAMR model adaptation in which it is used to categorize student work, specifically apps. There’s even a wheel that includes characterization by verb as well as SAMR wording circulating around the wheel itself. People love it. I take issue to using SAMR in this form…the app driven model.

There are some hefty “names” that have contributed to the success of this particular wheel. Many that are reading this post right now just may be ready to toss any credit that I may have out of the window…because you’re planning to present on how to use the SAMR wheel soon.

Hint: If you are tying the task to the tool, you’re doing it all wrong!

Before I am pelted with tomatoes and such, I would like for you to consider life beyond the apps. Consider the verbs themselves. Consider what you want your students to be able to accomplish. Consider how we determine mastery. While you are considering, take a moment to look at this article that details what the original intentions of the SAMR model were…a look at how WE, teachers, use technology…how WE implement. The original SAMR asks that we consider the tech supported task and evaluate its effectiveness. This is when SAMR makes sense. Why on earth would we take something that makes sense and then make it not make sense? Then, we all just collectively agree…never questioning it. In my role, I can’t just agree. I have to question a model that asks me to focus on apps in lieu of actions. This is not ok.

Mastery isn’t determined by an app or a series of apps. Mastery is determined by students demonstrating holistic understanding. It’s not in the tool that is used. It’s in what the the student communicates.

Instead of using SAMR to categorize apps, teachers could be looking at SAMR to check their own actions. What does this task accomplish? What will students be able to do? How will they demonstrate understanding? What was the purpose of the technology that I used to design this lesson? What’s the purpose…period?

We must shift focus away from beginning with apps and move swiftly to understanding why we design the task that we design…their purpose in student learning.

The curriculum task should always be held to standard first. The technology, regardless of the type, is meant to support it….never the other way around.

Comments 6

  1. THANK YOU! Yes. The technology is a tool. If we aren’t looking at the verb in the standard being taught and then thinking of tasks our students will do that demonstrate their knowledge, using the verb in their demonstration, then it really doesn’t matter what app we had them use. We should be using the SAMR to see where we are on transforming our practice by implementing these new tools. Nice post.

    1. Post

      Brilliantly stated, my friend…That was the whole purpose. If we really want to transform learning, we must start with what we do and why. Technology is not THE transformation.

  2. I am glad to see someone (You, Rafranz) stating this so clearly… how most apps are used is independent of the app itself… the goals, methodologies, intentions are external to the app… determined by the setting, teacher, learner, content and more…. Think about HOW the app will be used, by whom, with what purpose, to what end… and more.

    This “syndrome” of categorizing “software” has been around for longer than there have been apps… I have always thought it is sort of like suggesting crayons are tools which can be categorized by Blooms Taxonomy or SAMR…

    Thanks for helping to make people stop and think!

    1. Post

      Thank You! I was afraid that I would come across as anti-app, but I am definitely NOT anti-app. I am pro-purpose…regardless of if it is in technology or math manipulatives. We have to consider what is best for the learners. We make informed decisions based on that and not on the complexity of an app itself.

      1. Heck, egg cartons would score low on Bloom’s, SAMR, and other scales… but I have seen teachers use them to create amazing opportunities for learning.

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