In the realm of technology integration models, it appears that SAMR is king. While being the most widely recognized model, SAMR is not the only one out there. It is easy for a tech integrationist to ride the SAMR train to seem in touch with the pulse of the ed tech world. But is SAMR really the best model for you and your district?
The concept of SAMR is difficult to argue; push teachers to use technology in transformative ways in their classroom. I hope that all schools adopt a theoretical model that promotes excellent tech integration. However, there are some issues with the SAMR model that should be critically examined. The most common criticism is that of ambiguity, especially in the middle two levels. One of the first rules of rubric assessment is to create clear criteria. The lowest and highest level, Substitution and Redefinition, respectively, are very well defined. However the middle two levels of Augmentation and Modification are amorphous at best, at least when it is viewed from a classroom perspective. While an educational researcher might have a very clear idea of what qualifies for each stage, to a classroom practitioner, the delineation may not be so clear. SAMR may function well as a model for researchers, but as a four point rubric for school districts, SAMR has been less effective than I had hoped.
I understand that Puenteduras’ goal was for every teacher to push toward re-definitive technology integration. As much as I would like to see that happen, I realize that the framework alone sets up our teachers for failure unless they attain the top tier of the rubric. This is like expecting all of our students to get A’s in order to be considered competent. In summary, SAMR gives educators poorly defined criteria while setting the goal at the very top of the framework.
One four point model has been proven in countless studies to be effective in the classroom. Marzano’s four point rubric basically consists of four levels: Basic, Progressing, Target, and Surpassing.
Take note that the TARGET resides at level three, giving room for the student to excel. When the SAMR model is lined up to the Marzano four step rubric, one major problem arises. If the TARGET is level three, that means our goal should be Modification. Extrapolating, we see that only teachers who excel past our expectations will be using technology at the Redefinition level.
It is because of these flaws that I lean toward the RAT model proposed by Dr. Joan Hughes. In her 2006 paper Assessing Technology Integration: The RAT- Replacement, Amplification,and Transformation- Framework, she and her colleagues propose a clear three part framework for assessing technology use in the classroom. The idea is very similar to the SAMR model, yet the delineation much clearer (no squishy middle levels). Not only is the RAT model easier for teachers to comprehend, it also is possible to pronounce!
So what about that great 4 point Marzano rubric? RAT only has 3 levels with the TARGET on the third level. There should be a fourth level above our target level of competency. I suggest an addendum to the RAT model, a fourth level called “Leadership”. In this stage, the teacher has demonstrated the ability to use technology in a transformational way and is now ready to help others do the same. They share their work with others and encourage them to do the same. They take others under their wing to advance not just their classroom but the whole team, the school, and possibly even educators all over the nation to do the same.
So, who out there is ready to RATL up their tech integration? Lets get shakin’!