Monday, February 22, 2016

The importance of TPACK, SAMR and the Four Cs

As Instructional Technology Coaches, we must always be working with our teachers to ensure that they are effectively integrating technology with their pedagogy and content.  We know that effective integration can have positive results but even experienced teachers often struggle with how to do this.  It should start in their preservice program, but many great teachers make it into the classroom with little background in integrating technology.

The framework that provides the basis for effective integration is TPACK.  First introduced by Punta Mishra and Matthew Koehler in 2006, TPACK attempts to explain how technology fits into the "multifaceted and situated nature of teacher knowledge" (TPACK Explained,
Reproduced by permission of the publisher, © 2012 by

As you can see, the TPACK framework acknowledges the equal importance of content, pedagogy and technology.  This creates areas of effective combinations of two forms of knowledge as well as the sweet spot of TPACK when all three forms of knowledge are effectively utilized.

But even when the sweet spot is hit, there are still levels of effectiveness.  I remember seven to ten years ago when teachers, or even administrators, would brag about the integration of technology that was going on in a particular classroom.  I would eagerly go to visit that room only to find the teacher standing in the front of the room dutifully advancing through a PowerPoint presentation that was being projected on a screen ( or sometime even being projected onto an interactive whiteboard that cost thousands of dollars).  What was being projected?  The same notes that the teacher had been hand writing on the board for the last five years were now being displayed digitally while the students hurriedly scribbled them into their notebooks.  That is not integration.

One commonly referred to framework that can be used to promote effective integration is the SAMR Model developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura.  SAMR, as shown below, encourages teachers to move past the basic substituting of technology for another, less digital, method to the more effective redefinition of learning using technology.

It is important to note that Dr. Puentedura's work has come under some scrutiny because there are no significant peer-review studies to validate it as a framework. (See however, I consider this criticism in the same vein of that of Bloom's Taxonomy and the new Digital Bloom's Taxonomy.  Are they perfect?  Absolutely not.  Do they provide teachers with effective frameworks that should be considered in the planning and implementation of lessons and units?  Absolutely.

This is especially true when you consider how effective technologists have adapted these frameworks for practical application.  One of the best in my mind is the incredible Kathy Schrock's interpretation of Bloom's Digital that highlights the cognitive processes inherent to learning.

This graphic is useful to me because it reminds me that all of the cognitive levels are interconnected. As much as we want to criticize those activities at the lowest levels of Bloom's (when referring to the traditional, triangular version), this graphic reinforces that when done correctly, all of the levels can work together to drive the creating aspects of real learning.

That is why crosswalking these frameworks to see where and how they relate to one another is important.  Kathy has done this for us as well with this crosswalk of SAMR and the Cognitive Cogs of Bloom's.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills introduced the P21 Framework and a major component of that are the Learning and Innovation Skills.  These skills are commonly referred to as the Four Cs- Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication and Creativity.  Helping teachers focus on these skills has become a priority for instructional technology coaches.  A significant impetus for this priority is the findings of the Partnership that employers are looking for these skills in future workers, and are having a hard time finding young people with these skills.
The effective integration of technology, along with other pedagogical methods such project-based learning, can result in an increase in student obtainment of these skills.  This takes a significant shift for traditional teaching methods and is the perfect opportunity for coaches to to work with teachers to help with this transition.

How have you used these frameworks in your work?  Share in the comments below!

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