Earlier this year I began a series to answer questions we often get from schools and districts that are considering implementing the Technology Integration Matrix (TIM). Often those questions are about how the TIM relates to models and standards they are already committed to. Typical questions include:
- Does the TIM “align” with the ISTE Standards? We’re committed to meeting them.
- Will implementing the TIM help our students to achieve higher levels on Bloom’s Cognitive Taxonomy?
- We’ve got some folks in the district really sold on TPACK and others encouraging us to adopt TIM. Can the two play well together?
- We’ve been using SAMR with teachers new to tech. Do the four SAMR levels map to the five TIM levels?
To date, I’ve discussed the ISTE Standards, Bloom, and TPACK in comparison to the TIM. We discovered that there is an intrinsic relationship among these four models and standard sets because all of them are informed by a shared body of education research. Since they enjoy a common ancestry, the TIM can easily function an an implementation framework for those concerned with achieving ISTE standards or working toward higher levels on Bloom’s Taxonomy. We also noted that the TIM is really a subset of the TPACK. TPACK users who want to further “unpack” the Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK) section of the TPACK will find the TIM quite helpful when it comes to practical implementation in the classroom. Likewise, TIM users would do well to refer to the TPACK when considering the role of subject area knowledge in the context of preservice instruction or professional development in technology. And the encompassing dotted circle around the TPACK model is good reminder of the importance of always considering context when applying any model.
The last model to consider in this series is SAMR.
The SAMR model was introduced by Ruben Puentedura. SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. In the first two levels, technology is used to enhance a task and in the second two, technology is used to transform the task. Much like the TIM, it is not assumed that teachers are going to work their way up to the “highest level” and then teach at that level consistently forever. Rather, it is understood that there’s an appropriate place for lessons at every level. With the TIM, we emphasize that Entry or Adoption levels are often appropriate when introducing a new unit or technology before lessons are conducted at the higher levels. The same concept holds in the SAMR model where “SAMR ladders” are constructed to increase the level of tasks throughout a series of lessons.
SAMR illustration by Lefflerd at Wikimedia Commons used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
Getting back to the question we are often asked:
Do the four SAMR levels map to the five TIM levels?
The short answer is, “No, not at all.” The SAMR model simply does not share the research base that has informed the TIM and the other models and standards we’ve discussed. I suspect much of the confusion in this area is due to the frequency with which illustrations of the SAMR model are paired with illustrations of Bloom’s Cognitive Taxonomy. Many variations of this idea can be found around the web, but one should keep in mind that moving up the SAMR and Bloom in tandem is aspirational. Just because a task is at one level on SAMR, one cannot assume that it would fall on any particular level of Bloom or vice versa. Dr. Puentedura himself has made this clear:
It is important to realize that this association between SAMR and Bloom’s Taxonomy is not a necessary—or even habitual—coupling. Thus, it is possible to use extremely powerful redefinition-level approaches to make certain types of memorization tasks possible; conversely, it is also possible to undertake novel create-type tasks that only make basic substitution/augmentation use of the technology.1
Nevertheless, the SAMR is frequently used as an evaluation tool because of its simplicity and the familiarity many teachers already have of it.
The TIM and SAMR
While we don’t particularly recommend it, we find that schools and districts do sometimes use both the TIM and SAMR. Their explanation usually goes something like this:
When we are working with teachers new to technology, the TIM can seem a bit overwhelming if they are already overwhelmed by the idea of technology in the first place. Introducing the SAMR model gives them an easy way to think about converting an existing lesson they know to be effective into one that uses technology effectively. Then once the teachers have begun to create new lessons, we introduce them to the TIM.
Well, OK. But too often the SAMR model is stretched well beyond simply a way of looking at how effectively technology is leveraged when added to an existing lesson. And I would suggest that the TIM is still a much better place to start. Any certified teacher is already familiar with the pedagogical concepts embedded with in the TIM—active learning, collaborative learning, constructive learning, authentic learning, and goal-directed learning. We specifically chose to build the TIM using “ teacher language” rather than “tech language.” It shouldn’t be necessary to spend time with the SAMR model as a set of “training wheels” before introducing the TIM to ensure that the lessons teachers are creating are grounded in principles demonstrated to positively impact student learning.
And that gets to the heart of our concern with a reliance on just the SAMR model. There is no published research to indicate that augmenting, modifying, or redefining a task in and of itself increases student outcomes, whereas there’s a great deal of research to indicate that implementing the five characteristics upon which the TIM is based does, in fact, positively impact student outcomes. When comparing TIM and SAMR, it should also be noted that SAMR focuses on a discrete task, whereas the TIM is used to evaluate an entire lesson. Considering pedagogy when looking at technology use is critical in the TIM.
We, of course, commend teachers for carefully considering the affordances and limitations of various technologies rather than simply substituting a tech process in place of a non-tech process. Much more important, however, is for students to have opportunities to carefully explore the affordances and limitations of various technologies themselves. This allows them to use higher-order thinking skills to creatively apply the most apt technology or technologies to the particular task at hand. And that emphasis on students making decisions and taking charge of their own learning is a foundational element of the TIM.
1 Puentedura, R. (2014, September 24). Find out how you can use technology to engage students in rich learning experiences. [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.commonsense.org/education/articles/samr-and-blooms-taxonomy-assembling-the-puzzle/
A colleague just alerted me to a recently-published article:
Todd Cherner & Chyrstine Mitchell (2020): Deconstructing EdTech frameworks based on their creators, features, and usefulness, Learning, Media and Technology, DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2020.1773852
I highly recommend it as a thorough examination of EdTech frameworks including: F21L, ICT, PICRAT, RAT, SAMR, TIM, TPACK, Triple E, and the Wheel.
Roy Winkelman is a 40+ year veteran teacher of students from every level kindergarten through graduate school. As the former Director of FCIT, he began the Center's focus on providing students with rich content collections from which to build their understanding. When not glued to his keyboard, Dr. Winkelman can usually be found puttering around his tomato garden in Pittsburgh.