Archives For EDLD 5305

SAMR Model
The four-stage Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition (SAMR) model introduced by Rueben Puentedura back in mid-2000 has not only grown in popularity there are people building upon this its unsubstantiated foundation. The SAMR model was initially intended to help K-12 teachers move the up the ladder of technology use by using tech for the creation of new tasks, tech for a significant redesign, tech as a direct substitute with functional improvement, and tech as a direct substitute, with no functional change. SAMR not only looks like an innocuous model of using technology it also seems to appeal to the way many people tend to approach the use of technology. If we look closely at the fundamental presupposition of its use then we will see that there are serious issues in how the model can enhance learning.

The first time I was introduced to the SAMR model was over a decade ago and I recall thinking that this model has a fundamental flaw that many people will tend to overlook. While using technology to simply make an activity or task more efficient or to explore ways to enhance or even redefine that activity or task may seem innocuous or even worthwhile the problem that we run into with this sort of thinking is that we are ignoring the validity of the original task that SAMR is being applied to. For example if you use SAMR to move your paper-based fill in the black worksheet to a digital model (substitution) and then add some branching questions in a google form (augmentation) and then add enabled voice responses (modification) and finally allow your class to create a video to answer the questions (redefinition) the problem is you are still asking your students to regurgitate content regardless how sophisticated the regurgitation becomes. I have also noticed in my time working with hundreds of teachers and faculty that there is a tendency for most people to NOT move beyond the substitution or argumentation level. This means many well-intentioned instructors are not heading Seymour Papert’s warning and are falling into the trap of bolting a jet engine onto a horse cart.

I agree that we should be using technology to become more administratively efficient and to help the guide our learners but we should be using technology to go well beyond the original teaching task and use technology to enhance the learning not just use technology to enhance the use of technology. I am not alone in this thinking. The following articles and sites point to many of the same concerns that I have and develop several others. Another major concern is that the SAMR model has not been well researched as you can see from one of few articles that looks at the model itself.

Hamilton, E. R., Rosenberg, J. M., & Akcaoglu, M. (2016). The substitution augmentation modification redefinition (SAMR) model: A critical review and suggestions for its use. TechTrends, 60(5), 433–441.

Like the title indicates the article offers criticism of the SAMR model and recommendations for how it can be used effectively. This article can be downloaded from any academic library.

SAMR: A model without evidence –
A very fair assessment of the SAMR model that points to several related sources.

A Critical Review of Puentedura’s SAMR –
Another fair assessment that points to the lack of evidence for SAMR and for the general lack of evidence that many edtech advocates fail to use to support their claims.

Through The Looking Glass by Lucy Santos Green –
A fair assessment of the SAMR and TPACK models and recommendations on how they can be used more appropriately.

Next, to the myth of learning styles, there is perhaps no other more widely perpetuated educational myth than Edgar’s Cone of Experience, Cone of Learning, Learning Pyramid, Pyramid of Learning or whatever the latest perpetrator of the myth chooses to label it. Larry Cuban refers to the Learning Pyramid as a Zombie Idea because no matter how many scientific-crafted shafts are buried in its heart it just keeps on coming back. Rather than revisit the research the points to the fact the cone of learning is a myth I am simply going to point to several definitive sites that deal with this myth very thoroughly:

Will Thalheimer’s post Mythical Retention Data & The Corrupted Cone offers some of the best evidence to unpack the cone of learning myth.

Daniel Willingham’s post Cone of learning or cone of shame? Offer another perspective on the cone of learning myth.

Larry Cuban’s post Zombie Ideas Again: “The Learning Pyramid” also provides substantive evidence for the lack of evidence for the learning pyramid and has a great title.

The peer-reviewed article – The Learning Pyramid: Does it point teachers in the right direction?

Constructivist or those who believe that we learn by making meaningful connections and we construct new knowledge when we combine or relate it to what we already know have argued that working on real-world or authentic learning opportunities is one of the most effective ways to learn. Authentic learning is a key component of the CSLE+COVA approach and when we talk about authentic learning or refer to giving learners choice, ownership, and voice through authentic learning opportunities we are summarizing authentic learning in the following way.

Learners are given the opportunity to select and engage in real-world or authentic learning opportunities that enable them to make a genuine difference in their own learning environments. The selection and engagement in these real-world problems that are relevant to the learner furthers their ability to make meaningful connections (Donovan, Bransford, & Pellegrino, 2000) and provide them with career preparedness not available in more traditional didactic forms of education (Windham, 2007). Research confirms that authenticity is only developed through engagement with these sorts of real-world tasks and that this type of authentic learning can deepen knowledge creation and ultimately help the learner transfer this knowledge beyond the classroom (Driscoll, 2005; Nikitina, 2011). It is also important to recognize that authenticity is not an independent or isolated feature of the learning environment but it is the result of the continual interaction between the learner, the real-world activity, and the learning environment (Barab, Squire, & Dueber, 2000). This is also why we stress that in the CSLE+COVA model choice, ownership, and voice are realized through authentic learning and without this dynamic and interactive authenticity, there would be no genuine choice, ownership, and voice (Thibodeaux, Harapnuik, & Cummings, 2017).

The authentic learning aspect of the CSLE+COVA approach maps closely to Newmann, & Wehlage five standards of authentic learning:

  1. Higher-order thinking – learners move beyond the regurgitation of facts to making meaningful connections that transform information and ideas through analysis, synthesis, design, and creation.
  2. Depth of knowledge – learners are able to solve complex problems and systematically synthesizing large amounts of fragmented information into cohesive arguments and explanations that lead to a deeper understanding.
  3. Connectedness to the world beyond the classroom – learners address authentic or real-world and use these personal experiences to apply their gained knowledge and experience.
  4. Substantive conversation – learners collaborate with peers and experts to use higher order thinking to enter into a dialogue that can collectively improve the understanding of the authentic problems or projects.
  5. Social support for student achievement – learner use collaboration rather than competition as the path to developing an environment that promotes, diversity, respect, and inclusion.

By pointing to these five standards of authentic learning we are confirming that the CSLE+COVA approach is not only a synergy of well established constructivist ideas we are also confirming our it is better to build on the positive narrative about improving learning by building on a solid foundation that we emphasize in the following video:


Barab, S. A., Squire, K. D., & Dueber, W. (2000). A co-evolutionary model for supporting the emergence of authenticity. Educational Technology Research and Development, 48(2), 37-62.

Donovan, S. M., Bransford, J. D., & Pellegrino, J. W. (2000). How People Learn: Bridging research and practice. Washington D. C.: National Academy Press.

Newmann, F. & Wehlage, G. (1993). Five standards of authentic instruction. Educational Leadership, 50 (7), 8-12.

Nikitina, L. (2011). Creating an authentic learning environment in the foreign language classroom. International Journal of Instruction, (4)1, 33-36. Retrieved from

Thibodeaux, T. N., Harapnuik, D. K., Cummings, C. D., & Wooten, R. (2017). Learning all the time and everywhere: Moving beyond the hype of the mobile learning quick fix. In Keengwe, J. S. (Eds.). Handbook of research on mobile technology, constructivism, and meaningful learning. Hershey, PA: IGI Global. Submitted for Publication.

Windham, C. (2007). Why today’s students value authentic learning. Educause Learning ELI Paper 9. Retrieved from

Over the past 25 years that I have been involved in the education I have seen so many claims that this or that technology will begin to replace teachers in “X” number of years. Years ago, my initial response to these types of articles was humor and occasional annoyance because I know from first-hand experience that there is much more to learning than just delivery of content. Unfortunately, authors of most of these types of articles are wrongly assuming that learning just involves the delivery of content and then the regurgitation of that content by the student. This commonly held and very naive understanding of how we learn that goes back for centuries. If you look at the notion of the Nuremberg Funnel from the 17th century that is depicted in this image/stamp you will see that this idea of pouring information or content into the brains/heads of our students is a very old idea.

Nuremberg Funnel
The 19th-century commercial artist Jean-Marc Côté created a series of picture cards as inserts that were intended to depict how life in France would look in a century’s time. The education card depicts the notion of pouring information directly into the student’s minds.

21st Century School
While some may see this as an early prediction of the audiobook the notion of pouring information into the learner’s minds is the focus of the image and is at the heart of the problem with these types of depictions/predictions. Before I focus on what I believe is the primary issue I need to acknowledge that there is a very long history of unrealistic claims of how technology would reform education. The following three contemporary authors have documented how schools have failed to effectively use technology to enhance learning. Larry Cuban’s Teachers and Machines: The Classroom Use of Technology Since 1920, addresses how the potential of film, radio, TV and computers has been wasted in the classroom. Todd Oppenheimer’s The Flickering Mind: Saving Education from the False Promise of Technology expands on Cuban’s work and further reveals that creative power of computers has been squandered due to their use as standardized testing tools. Both these authors acknowledge the potential and power of technology but show how we have failed to leverage that power for learning.

In the timeline History of Teaching Machines Audrey Watters points to the list of teaching machines that have been invented, patented, and promoted as time-saving solutions to the problems of education. We see major figures like Thorndyke, Skinner and even Neo from the movie Matrix promising a future of instant learning. In her discussion of dystopian future portrayed in the Matrix Watters questions how we value the process of learning when we so often want to supplant it with something that is, fast, cheap and instant. She argues that this desire for instant learning will continue to resurface time and time again and in the more recent stages of her timeline she points to Kahn Academy and MOOCs as the most recent iterations of the teaching machine.

This brings me back to the heart of the matter. Are we using technology as a tool to help make meaningful connections and to address the challenges of tomorrow or are we just using technology to deliver content and confirm that the student can regurgitate that content? There was a time not so long ago when getting access to information was the greatest challenge. We only have to look back a few years to a time when the Internet didn’t exist and we had to go to the library or other repositories of information to get at the content. I am not that old but I can recall a time in the 1960’s when a set of encyclopedia was one of the most important purchases a rural family could make; I grew up searching those books for all kinds of answer. In the last 15-20 years the explosive growth of the Internet and more recently the ease with which we can find information with Google, YouTube or other search tools and then can share that information on blogs, social media and in so many other ways has changed the way we need to view our challenges regarding information. The greatest challenge of the industrial age was accessing information and now that we have moved into digital information age our greatest challenge or problem is assessing information. This means we need to reassess our primary role or job as teachers.

If I imagine my primary job as a teacher is to serve information, am I helping solve the current informational problem or do I make it worse?

And given the vast complexity of the informational network, if I insist on my centrality and authority, does that establish or harm my credibility as a teacher?

If assessing information – and the wisdom & experience that this requires – is the central challenge of the current informational age, then are teachers more or less necessary?

Depending on how you answer this question should determine if your role as a teacher can easily be replaced by a computer or an inspirational robot. If you believe that your primary job is to deliver information to your students then these predictions will come true sooner than you expect. Technology is at the point where the delivery of information and the assessment of the reception of that information through some form of standardized test is already happening and can easily be automated. If you are a teacher that practices content delivery as the primary way to prepare your students for standardized tests then you can easily be replaced by a computer, robot or other technology.

If you are a teacher who believes it is your responsibility to inspire your learners and to help them assess information and make meaningful connections by creating significant learning environments (CSLE) in which you give your learner choice ownership and voice through authentic (COVA) learning opportunities it will be impossible to replace you with technology. Furthermore, if you hold to the CSLE+COVA approach then you are not afraid of technology and can put technology in its proper place by using it to enhance the learning environment.

Before you breathe that sigh of relief that your teaching job is secure because you believe in the student-centered rhetoric of Dewey and other constructivists you may want to have a look at your practice. Are you talking the talk of Dewey but walking the walk of Thorndyke? Along with the long history of misapplying technology in education, we also have a long history of using the constructivist or progressive rhetoric of Dewey but practicing the behaviorist methods of Thorndyke’s standardized testing (Labaree, 2006).

If you really don’t want to be replaced by an inspirational robot then you need to not only talk the talk of Dewey but walk the walk. Does your practice match your rhetoric? If it doesn’t what are you doing about it?


Bodkin, H. (2017, September 11). “Inspirational” robots to begin replacing teachers within 10 years. The Telegraph. Retrieved from

Hill, D. J. (2012, October 15). 19th-century French artists predicted the world of The future in this series of postcards. Retrieved October 3, 2017, from

Labaree, D. F. (2005). Progressivism, schools and schools of education: An American romance. Paedagogica Historica, 41(1–2), 275–288.

Nuremberg Funnel. (2017, January 6). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from

Watters, A. (2016, March 2) The allure of ‘Matrix-Style Learning.’ Retrieved from

Watters, A. (2016) History of teaching Machines. Retrieved from

Power of Video

How to Fold a Shirt in Under 2 Seconds

Is there any better way to show people how to do this?

The following 13 stats point to the power of video content: –

Before you follow my links to my favorite video creation tools (near the bottom of the post) I suggest that you spend a bit of time to make sure that are you using the power of images, video, and words to influence and motivate people rather use the video to just dump more information?

If you are wondering if your video is going to be effective in motivating people to action I suggest that you consider the list of questions that I pose on my post When people need motivation, not information

Enough words – check out the following two videos to make sure that you are targeting the hearts before you target the minds of your audience.

The Power of Words

The Behavioral ScienceGuys

In the post, The Head Won’t Go Where the Heart Hasn’t Been I provide some of the research behind why it is so important to target the heart before you target the mind.

My Video Took Kit
So how do you take advantage of the power of video? The following links point to all the tools that I have found most useful in creating videos.

Dwayne’s DIY Video Creation Toolbox
My Video & Media Tools –

This is only the starting point. I recommend that you search Youtube to find even more ideas.