What before How – Technology Integration in my Classroom

In course 1, I had the opportunity to look at various frameworks of technology integration in education and their commonalities and differences (here you can read my take on TPACK and SAMR). To recap, here are two images that highlight the key elements of both models:


The SAMR Model
By Lefflerd [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons
By Llennon (https://www.tpack.org) [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

When I look at my own practice, I would say that it fits with both, the TPACK and the SAMR frameworks. Let me explain.


The What

When planning my units, first and foremost, I consider the enduring understandings that I want the students to have at the end of each learning cycle. In other words, I focus on the CK, or Content Knowledge, of the TPACK model. In my case, this is driven by the Statement of Inquiry and unpacked in what the students will know, what they will understand, and what they will be able to do at the end of the unit.

The How

Once the CK has been determined, we move on to decide how the students will achieve that. Here is where both the T and P of TPACK make an appearance in no particular order. Theoretically, the P (pedagogy) goes before T (technology), but sometimes those lines are blurred. Having worked extensively in a 1:1 programme and with a myriad of tech tools, my thinking on instructional strategies, scaffolds and differentiation is intimately tied with tools that will allow me to implement those effectively. Sometimes I make the conscious decision that not using a tech tool would be more appropriate, given the context, the students and the goals, and a no-tech approach might be best.

So, where does SAMR comes in?

Naturally, one would think that the SAMR model would be visible in the T part of the planning cycle. As I mentioned earlier, being a technology enthusiast and having worked in a 1:1 programme for almost a decade, has allowed me to experience firsthand how technology can be used to transform and enhance learning in ways that without technology would be very difficult to do or practically impossible. In this way, when thinking about what we want the students to learn, back to the CK of TPACK, we can also see how technology comes to modify and redefine learning from the top down.

Here are some examples of how I use one tool for different activities along the SAMR continuum:

Substitution: Recording research in a table on Evernote – writing a summary of text sources and recording citations.

Augmentation: Recording research in a notebook using Evernote Clipper – clipping YouTube videos, websites, articles and documents part of their research.

Modification: Co-constructing work with a peer by sharing a notebook on Evernote and also sharing it with the teacher. The work and the feedback flow can be done via written text, annotated documents or images, or audio clips, all of which can be embedded in or attached to the shared notes or notebooks. Co-construction and feedback can be synchronous or asynchronous.

Redefinition: Co-constructing a Traveling Tale with three other classrooms around the world, using a shared Evernote notebook to plan and share resources to create the story.

Technology integration is most definitely not about the tools themselves, but about the learning which can be facilitated by those tools.

Featured image by Wokandapix on Pixabay

8 thoughts on “What before How – Technology Integration in my Classroom

  1. Hi Lena,
    SO far I have only really used TPACK/SAMR/RAT as either a criteria to judge a lesson or program against or as a broad inspirational or aspirational framework. I like how you have used it during each step of the planning process, especially the fact that you begin with content knowledge. Starting with what you want to achieve is so much more powerful than starting with “lets use the laptops” or “lets use tech for engagement and go from there”.
    I’m excited to see where your Traveling Tale leads you!


  2. “Theoretically, the P (pedagogy) goes before T (technology), but sometimes those lines are blurred.” I also feel this is often the case in my teaching. Just as you, when planning on how to teach the content my thinking really is tied to the tech tools that will best help me to implement my teaching. It is not that we are just going to the tech automatically, but I think it is because we already have the knowledge of how useful it is to help teach the content in a more effective and meaningful way. I really love that you also make the conscious decision to NOT use tech when that approach would be what is best for learning. Ultimately it is all about the learning and whatever works best to make that happen.

    After doing the Travelling Tale for my first time this year, I will definitely be joining in again next year. My kids have gained so much from it and we now have a good relationship with other classes we can learn from throughout this year. Such a worthwhile project! For my tale, we simply watched each part as the class before us made it and then planned our part from that. But I am curious how it went for you planning collaboratively on Evernote. Did you work together to plan out the whole story with each class’s role beforehand? How did it go? I think I would like to try that if we do it next year.

    On a final note as a mother of a child with a birth defect, your tale really spoke to my heart. I was literally crying as I watched it. I later watched it with my son as well and now he says he wants a robotic arm like all the kids born without arms in the story. Your tale was very inspiring and well written. Tell your class and the classes that collaborated with you that they did a phenomenal job!


    1. Hi Jessica. I am so happy that our story resonated so much with you. That is the true purpose of telling stories! Evernote was a handy tool for us when planning the tale. Basically, each of us posted on Evernote basic information on how our students approached the tale, so we all had an idea where the tale was going even before it got to us. I found that useful as we could start brainstorming possible ways in which to continue the tale. It worked well.


  3. Hi Lina,
    I love how you approached with the What and the How. I find that this by design focus on the goal rather than on the tool, in this case technology. I also really like that you showed that different levels of the SAMR model continuum can be used in teaching and learning when it is meaningful. It does not always have to be the R. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
    Your travellingtale is awesome. It reminded me of a Keynote that @mabycraft presented at Learning2 in Tokyo that I was very fortunate to listen to about a week ago.
    Jessica Phillips @jessicarose325 you may be interested to follow him on twitter as well. He is amazing and inspirational.
    My kids loved collaborating globally on Travellingtales last year and I think we will do it again this year if we get the opportunity again.
    All the best with the great stuff that you are doing.


    1. Agisa actually I already am! Last year at 21CLHK I met him and we connected immediately. His “Show Your Weird” talk at Learning 2 was very inspiring for sure. Thanks for thinking of me!


    2. Hi Agisa. Yes, not all what we do with technology should be ‘redefinition’. That would be so exhausting and probably missing the purpose. The Travelling Tales are such an awesome way to flatten the walls of our classrooms and I particularly love the fact that it is a great opportunity to learn and think about the SDGs.


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