Tuesday, November 26, 2013

SAMR: Model, Metaphor, Mistakes

I have been doing a lot of thinking for a presentation on technology in the English Language Arts classroom I am planning for the end of January. In the course of my preparation I came across the SAMR model developed by Ruben N. Puentedura It provides a framework for how technology impacts pedagogy. This YouTube video does a great job briefly explaining each of the stages. As such, the SAMR model can help teachers think about their own implementation of various tech tools in the classroom.
While thinking about the best way to present the model to teachers, I came across a blogpost by Tim Holt that compared the various levels of tech implementation to ordering coffee from Starbucks. A person ordering from Starbucks can simply substitute its coffee for the homemade version or order a Pumpkin Spice Latte, which truly redefines an espresso drink. This metaphor gave me the inspiration to create the following slide (included here as a stand alone image) for my presentation. The comparison is between the drinks a person could order from Starbucks and the coffee he or she could make at home.
But I also came across this blogpost by Catlin Tucker about the limitations of the SAMR model. The mistake would be to assume that the SAMR captures the typical journey of tech implementation in the classroom, beginning with substitution and ending with redefinition. Instead, she suggests, tech implementation involves a transformation to the teacher. Most teachers get connected with other teachers using technology, and through that influence begin to teach with engaging online tools. This observation also fits with the Starbucks metaphor since people also start drinking coffee and espresso drinks by connecting with others who do the same. The SAMR model can help such a teacher evaluate his or her use of a particular tool as technology continues to transform the teacher and classroom.
Finally, this blogpost, especially the comments, made me realize that SAMR can not be read hierarchically or be used as a way to look down on other less tech savvy teachers. At different times in the classroom the substitution level of technology implementation can be just as valuable as the redefinition level. Indeed, a redefinition of a task may later turn out to be less valuable than the original task. In addition, many teachers are already teaching at high levels even before technology tools are used in the classroom.
In conclusion, the SAMR model, in conjunction with the coffee metaphor, can help teachers think about technology implementation in the classroom. But it can not take the place of connecting with other technology using educators and thinking about how these levels impact the high level of teaching that is occurring in so many classrooms across the country.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Chrome Extensions for Educators

One feature that makes the Chrome web browser so powerful is the ability to add extensions. You can find extensions in the Chrome Web Store. They are easily installed with a one button click. Below you will find a list of Chrome Extensions that you can start using right away.

Adblock for Youtube
I was recently observing a lesson by another teacher which used a video from Youtube. Unfortunately, a video ad played first. This extension will solve that problem. It eliminates all video ads from Youtube and allows you to only show the content you intended.

This is the first extension that I install on any web browser because it is so helpful. It blocks the ads on any web page. In addition and also keeps pop ups from opening in a new window. Therefore you can browse the web without all of the annoying distractions.

One feature I miss from Outlook is desktop notifications. Luckily, there is a Chrome extension that adds this feature to the web browser. Once installed, you need to give the extension permission to access your calendar. Then you will start receiving notifications of your appointments. You can even add events quickly to your Google calendar.

Previously I have written about extensions for Firefox that allow you to download videos for YouTube. I was not aware that the same kind of extension existed for Google Chrome. But this is an extension for Chrome that lets you download a YouTube video and save it to your hard drive. When watching a video, the extension icon changes to a green download arrow. Click on the arrow and choose "add video to video list" and then chose "show video list." From the video list you can download a copy of the video to your hard drive.

See something on the web that you want to save for later? Pocket is the extension for you. You can save articles, videos, images, etc. to view later. A great feature of Pocket is it syncs across all web browsers and devices.

Awesome screenshot
We all need to create quick screenshots from time to time. This Chrome extension lets you take a screen shot and edit it all within your browser. You can even save the images to Google Drive.

This extension lets you grab images from any webpage and instantly begin editing them. Or, using the Chrome app, you can edit pictures from your hard drive. Picmonkey has all of the features you need to quickly edit and share images from the web.

Open tabs in Chrome can use up a lot of memory. This extension converts all of the open tabs into a list. You can then open the tabs one at a time or all at once when you need them.

Black Menu for Google
Miss that black bar with all of your Google apps? This extension gives you a one click access to all of your Google services. A great feature of this extension is that you can use it from any webpage.

Split Screen
Ever wanted to have two web pages open in a single window? This extension allows you to type in two URLs and have then open in the same tab. Great viewing assignments and then entering grades into an online grade book.

Sometimes you just want to read an article on a webpage and remove all of the distractions. The Clearly extension removes all extra content from a webpage and presents the article in clean, easy-to-read format. If you are an Evernote user, you can also clip the page to your Evernote account.

Now its your turn to supercharge your Chrome web browser. Choose one extension that fits your needs and install it today. Leave any extensions that you love and I forgot to mention in the comments.