Boost learning outcomes by transforming student learning tasks

As a teacher, you are probably very interested in how you can more effectively integrate technology into the learning tasks of their students. The most important words in this goal are: more effectively. Every teacher I know does use technology in a variety of different ways and they do promote and model its use for students in the service of learning. However, teachers often want to know what to do next and how they can better use technology to improve learning and boost outcomes.

In order to do that, educators need a way to analyze what they are expecting their students to do with technology during learning tasks. There are a variety of ways to approach this that but the simplest I have found is to think about task outcomes in terms a model called the SAMR Model. This model can provide a language for their analysis. It organizes specific technology use into four tiers according the following chart:

The SAMR Model
The SAMR Model (used with permission: Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura, author of the SAMR model. Click on image for original slide source.)

In general terms, the lower two tiers describe how technology is used in the learning task in ways that do not alter the task; the technology only enhances the task. The upper two tiers describe how technology can be used in ways that do transform the learning task into an activity that will have a greater impact on learning.

In the following video, Dr. Puentedura provides an excellent introduction to the SAMR model and the TPACK framework, which is also a useful tool for teachers to use during the planning and designing of learning environments and tasks for students.

The SAMR model is useful as a tool to help educators analyze how technology is used in specific learning tasks and how it relates to student outcomes. It needs to be applied specifically and within the context of the educational objectives from the curriculum you are using. It was not designed as a set of categories that describe technologies, or software, or Web 2.0 tools, or applications, or any task taken out of a specific learning context. For example, graphics such as this one can be misleading; it would appear from this poster that one could simply choose the “Skitch” app and be assured that the task was being “modified”. The reality is that, depending on the original learning task one is considering, one could use Skitch, for example, as a substitute for the original task, or to augment the task, or modify the task, or to completely redefine the original task… it all depends on how the app is used and what the original learning task and context is.

Further Reading

6 thoughts on “Boost learning outcomes by transforming student learning tasks

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  1. Jim,
    Thanks for this – It will come in handy as I work towards empowering all teachers with the knowledge and tools they need to allow technology to transform their classroom.

  2. Hey Jim! You have come up with really good ideas which made this post worth reading and has also covered new education strategies that how students can learn more effectively by using technology and how educators can implement them in the classroom. It is just excellent, I have not mastered using implementing technology in the classroom but I have used my own personal Apple devices to enhance a particular subject. As an education technology writer, I must say that these gadgets are key to engaging the students in daily discussions. We should also mentor our students to use their iPad and iPhone to work on certain sites and applications for attaining proper and positive benefits from that resources.

    1. Hi Miley! Thanks for your reply… You are right that educators need to model the use of mobile devices. Students today might be called digital natives but that does not mean that they automatically have the competencies needed for creating/writing/expressing, critical thinking, effective collaboration and communication. Educators are in a unique position to help broaden students’ skills and to show them how to apply of this technology to help them learn, express themselves and work productively with others. Thanks again for your comment. If you have a blog/media site, can you leave that link so I can read you?

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