How can we use technology to help kids learn?

Sep 11, 2014 Categories: Education Today, Online tools

When we make decisions about technology – at home or at school – we need to consider why we are bothering. It’s usually a good amount of cash and most of us aren’t millionaires.

What a lot of schools are doing these days is using a kind of chart to understand how they are using technology.

One of these ‘models’ is called the SAMR model.
Here’s what it looks like:


You can see that the SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition. It’s a way of thinking about the ways we use technology – rather than jsut what cool app or new iPad we have in front of us!

So when we think about teaching with technology we have to thinkg first about what kids are actually doing with it. It’s lovely to buy our kids an iPad or laptop or to fund the school 1:1 program but how do we know that it’s making any difference to what and how our kids learn?

So we think about the four main ways that tech can be used.

photo 1

It could just substitute what we already do. In a classroom, that’s something like asking kids to type up their story in Word but then print it and hand it to the teacher. At home, its downloading and iPad that lets them practice (over and over and over) their timetables. The technology is just replacing what we already do. No new learning there.






photoNext we could add or augment the way our kids learn. This might be using spell check or adding in website links to their Word story. On an iPad it might be an app that self-corrects and sends kids to harder questions if they get enough right. So it’s adding a little something but when it comes down to it – the activity and learning is just the same.



photo 2Then we get into the top two levels of SAMR. These ones are most likely to result in actual learning benefits – which is what we want to see when have forked over $500 for an iPad/laptop.

Modfiying learning means just that. You could do the task without a computer but it would be hard. The kids audience has changed. Instead of printing off their story, they post it on the school website for anybody to read. They have more purpose to their work now.


redefindFinally, we can use tech to Redefine the learning our students do. This means thinking about changing the audience (who the work is for) and the owner (who’s work is this and who gets to make decisions about it). You’ll know your child is working at this stage of SAMR if they can’t possibly complete the learning experience WITHOUT the computer. The tech becomes vital because of what it provides – connection, audience, interaction beyond school.

So next time you wonder what your child is doing online – have a think about it against the SAMR model. Is it worth the effort they are putting in?

Have you heard of SAMR before? What do you think about this way of learning ? Please share with us – we’d loved to know more about you and your experiences!

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