Blogging Through the Lens of SAMR

A blog used as a platform can serve many purposes. It can be the platform :

  • for a simple and static website, where information is  being shared out periodically
  • to replace a traditional newsletter that serves as a school/home communication
  • that serves as a hub for a local classroom learning community
  • that can become a global communication hub, where students and teachers connect, communicate and collaborate with the world

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In order to use a blog to its full potential, it serves to take a closer look at the SAMR model by Ruben Puentedura as well as Alan November’s ideas around the stages of automating and informating.

SAMR model

Automating and Informating

I have learned about two ways to think about technology: one is called automating, the other is called informating. One will give you incremental improvement; the other will give you big improvement. Unfortunately schools and technology planning tend to focus on automating. This means that you bolt technology on top of what you’re already doing. Most of the investment in education is automating. We have kids write a five-paragraph essay with a $2,000 pencil in a word processing lab. The best improvement you can hope for if you automate is incremental. For example, if we automate report cards, the result is we have prettier report cards, but we don’t improve learning.You get very different results when you informate. The real revolution is information and communication, not technology. Let go of the word technology. If you focus on it, then you’ll just do what you’re already doing. The trick in planning as we move forward is to think about information systems, whole systems of the flow of information and communication.

How can we use the blog as a platform to TRANSFORM teaching and learning and not only SUBSTITUTE activities and tasks that we have done in the past without a blogging platform?

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The step from using a static website or emails as a mean to share announcements or calendar items to sharing the same type of items on a blogging platform is not far nor a steep step. But the ultimate goal for using a classroom blog or student blogfolios though, is that of creating transformative teaching and learning opportunities, not to have a platform that substitutes a composition book or paper journal. 

First let’s look at  a Classroom Blog  through the lens of SAMR

Substitution– technology acts as a direct substitute for the task

  • The classroom blog is used as a tool to substitute a handwritten/typed and printed newsletter.
  • The teacher shares announcements and communicates important classroom/school related information with parents. the blog might also get updated with weekly homework assignments or lesson plans.
  • The content is mainly in a text format and gets updated on a once-a-week or monthly basis.

Augmentation– technology acts as a direct tool substitution with functional improvement

  • The classroom blog is used as an online static website to communicate classroom happenings, calendar items and homework assignments.
  • Teacher creates items for students and parents to view.
  • These might include images, video and audio.
  • The blogs gets updated more frequently.
  • Readers can subscribe via RSS or via email to updates published by the teacher.

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Modification– technology allows for significant task redesign

  • The classroom blog is used by teachers and students to create and reflect around learning in the classroom.
  • Students post to the blog via guest posts about topics of their interest and passion.
  • They contribute multimedia artifacts or collaborate by publishing and sharing their classroom notes.
  • Students leave comments  to add value, meaning, perspective or additional resources to posts created by their teacher and/or peers.
  • Content gets labeled/ categorized to make searching for specific items, previously posted, easier.

Redefinition– technology allows for the creation of new tasks previously inconceivable

  • The classroom blog has become the central hub for documenting learning, sharing of resources and multimedia created by teacher and students.
  • The teacher actively and strategically connects students to experts and peers from around the world via the hub to connect, communicate and collaborate on topics of study and interests.
  • An avid conversation is unfolding via blog authors and commenters from around the world.

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What about Student Blogs?

Substitution– technology acts as a direct substitute for the task

  • A student uses the blog as a tool to substitute a handwritten/typed and printed assignment.
  • The student copies and pastes a Google Doc or other file from a word processing program into a blog post.
  • The comments on the blog are closed or not being utilized.
  • Students might upload a scanned image of an analog test score, worksheet or other analog artifact.
  • Students might answer a prompt or question posed by teacher to the entire class.
  • There is no added value to the learning process versus the analog task.

Augmentation– technology acts as a direct tool substitution with functional improvement

  • Students use their blog as a platform to publish assignments (research papers, essays, responses) for their teacher to see.
  • The blog is a place to push out information, possibly for Student Led Conferences or a showcase/process portfolio.
  • They insert or embed images, videos, presentations or audio to support their written text.
  • They possibly insert hyperlinks to additional resources.
  • Students tag and categorize their posts with searchable labels.
  • The blog platform becomes a digital organization of students’ online learning records, which is centralized, archived and searchable.
  • Teachers use the comment section to give feedback to their students about their performance.
  • Classmates read each other’s papers and leave comments.

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Modification– technology allows for significant task redesign

  • Students use hyperlinked writing as part of digital writing process to show and connect their thinking to topics, influences, relationships and process between previously published content and external resources.
  • Students communicate beyond the written word, in multimedia and transmedia ways.
  • It is evident in their work that they are writing with a global audience in mind and their work encourages conversation, invites multiple perspectives to add and influence their work.
  • Students receive constructive feedback from peers as part of the writing process.
  • Comments inform students’ writing and original task of “paper” extends and “spills over” into the comment section, altering form of writing piece as well notion of “completion” of paper.
  • Students are demonstrating writing skills for digital spaces, by observing digital citizenship, hyperlinked, networked, peer- connected and non- linear writing.

Redefinition– technology allows for the creation of new tasks previously inconceivable

  • The student blog becomes an embedded part of the process and a natural extension of communication and learning cycle by documenting evidence of learning, reflecting, sharing and receiving feedback in order to consider revision.
  • Teachers and students actively and strategically disseminate and connect the blogs to a learning network for feedback and resources.
  • The blog archives artifacts, reflections and connects learning over time.
  • The blog becomes a natural extension beyond assigned academic work and is being used as a hub to document students’ learning, demonstrating self-directed and self-motivated lifelong learning habits as they are organizing, building and maintaining their own online learning records, a growing academic digital footprint and develop their personal brand as well as personal learning networks.

 

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Where does your current classroom blog or your students’ blogs fall when looking through the lens of SAMR?

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