Thursday, December 5, 2013

They Always Come Back to Paper

Though I had heard of the SAMR model before, I didn't really try to apply it to the tech in my classes until this year with our BYOD focus.

Without getting too much into it, the SAMR model is a spectrum of technological use in the classroom, depending on what you want the technology to accomplish. How effectively am I using the technology I have?
  1. S for Substitution - the technology performs the exact same role as a more traditional tool, but is not necessary.
  2. A for Augmentation - the technology offers some functional benefit, but is still not necessary.
  3. M is for Modification - the technology is necessary in order to create a new product.
  4. R is for Redefinition - the technology is necessary to provide tools for students to explore, collaborate and guide their learning.
In the BYOD course, we have played quite a bit with new tools in line with the "M" and "R" parts of the model, and I've been trying to encourage the students to try new approaches to their tasks. We've done a lot with graphing calculator apps and websites (the students LOVE desmos.com), experimented with the collaborative power of Google Docs and Presentations, and I've gently nudged students working on various things toward slow-motion camera apps, screen capture possibilities, photo collage websites, augmented reality apps... 

...but in the spirit of true differentiation, I have been trying to always allow my students - where possible - their choice of how they want to present their knowledge.


With all the benefits of having technology at their fingertips, I expected great final products. What I did not anticipate, was the number of student who would revert back to handing things in... on paper.

On this project, I expected most students to graph their periodic function using one of the graphing calculator tools we've been playing with all semester, but instead many chose to graph by hand. On the photo collage option of this assignment, I was hoping students would simply email me a link to their collage (or create a .jpg to send to me), so I was surprised when many couldn't figure out how to create captions and chose to print out their collage to hand in on paper.

On an assignment which required a graph, some images, some calculations and text, very few students chose to even use a word processor (or equivalent app or website); pretty much all of them came in on lined paper.

With so many tools at their disposal, why do my students revert back to "old-school" methods of demonstrating their knowledge? 

Is there comfort (or security) in reverting back to what they've always done in school? Are they intimidated by the possibilities technology brings? Do they lack the resiliency needed to try new things and work out the kinks? 

How can I encourage them to push their limits and create something over the top with the devices they use on a daily basis?

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