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I am so excited to be hosting a workshop, and two presentations at ISATT 2017 in Salamanca, Spain! Click here for information about the conference.

Does the SAMR and TPACK Models have it backwards?

Posted on Mar 25 ,2016

Posted in Integrating EduTech

Optimized-Krista Moroder

I have been doing a lot of reading lately in my quest to start my Major Research Paper for my Master of Education program at Brock University. I came across a puzzling find. All the journal articles talked about how technology can enhance academic achievement backing up their hypotheses with Vygotsky, Dewey, 21st Century Learning, Experiential Learning, and so on, and so on. Theoretically, it makes sense; using technology in the classroom enhances motivation, engagement, and academic achievement. However, article after article yielded no significant difference between their control groups and their experimental groups. It didn’t make any sense! All of this research and pedagogically sound strategies implied that they should have found a positive correlation between the technology they were using and academic achievement.

I then came across a blog post by Krista Moroder that just blew me away. (Click here to read her post). She explained that while the TPACK and SAMR frameworks are great models, they have a technology first type approach. For example, they focus on how different types of technology can help you to implement different teaching strategies. However, the digital tool you are using can only be as effective as the teaching strategy you are using it for. Therefore, we need to focus on effective teaching strategies first and then look at how technology and digital tools can make it more efficient or effective.

So, I started to dig deeper. I gathered a bunch of articles studying the impact of technology on academic achievement in the J/I Mathematics Classroom and I am currently in the process of comparing the type of technology used and the way the technology was integrated into the classroom to whether or not the study yielded a positive result. In other words, I want to compare the articles that obtained a positive result and the ones that didn’t to create a list of effective ways that technology was integrated into classroom. This will hopefully lead to a guidebook to advise teachers on how best to use technology to enhance teaching strategies that we already know are effective.

Using Emerging Technologies to Evaluate Digital Tools

Posted on Mar 10 ,2016

Posted in Current Research, Evaluating EduTech


The NMC Horizon Project identifies emerging technologies likely to have an impact in education over the coming five years. The report in 2013 included the following:

Near- term Horizon (within 12 months: 2014)

  1. Cloud Computing (cloud based applications such as Google Docs)
  2. Mobile Learning (tablets, smartphones)

According to an article written in The Journal in 2014, almost all middle and high school students in the United States have access to mobile devices for schoolwork. Around 89% of high school students and 73% of middle school student have access to smartphones. In addition, 66% of middle and high school student have access to lap-tops and 61% (50%) of middle (high) school students have access to laptops. Interestingly, about 1/3 of these devices was issued by their school (Nagel, 2014). Click here to read the full report.

Therefore, it is clear to see that both of these predications have come to fruition. With the popularity of iPads, Chromebooks, and Laptops within schools, it is safe to say that mobile learning and cloud based applications have integrated into general school life in one way or another.

Mid-term Horizon (within 2 – 3 years: 2015 – 2016)

  1. Learning Analytics (using student related data to customize the student learning experience)
  2. Open Content (free online learning materials and resources)

Far-term Horizon (within 4 – 5 year: 2017 – 2018)

  1. 3D Printing
  2. Virtual and remote Laboratories (online virtual experiment’s or laboratories)

Based on the LaunchEdu Finalists at 2016 SXSWEdu (South by South West Education Conference) in Texas, it is hard to say whether the Mid-term or Far-term Horizon emerging technologies are aligned with the latest advances in education. Out of the 10 finalists only two of the Startups matched to one of the technologies outlined by Horizon to likely enter mainstream use from about 2015 to 2018. Expii Inc is designed to personalize learning by mapping your knowledge and guiding you through an educational path to where you have indicated you want to go. Paragon One also personalising learning by creating an adaptive platform that guides international students to careers in the US and abroad. The other Startups surround gamification, game-based learning, student engagement, or connecting the classroom to the outside world. (Click here to see the full list of LaunchEdu Finalists)

So how does this relate to my research? As educators it is important to remember that, regardless of what the new emerging technology is, it needs to have a connection to educational pedagogy that we know impacts student learning. If a type of technology is fast becoming popular within education and is proven to have an impact on student learning, then we need to find out why. That is what evaluating technology is all about. We need to be evaluating technology to determine why and how it impacts student learning so that we know what to look for or design for in the future. This in turns helps educators determine what technology is most beneficial in education. What technology do you use in your classroom? Does it have an impact student learning? Why? How do you know?