I can hardly contain my excitement for the keynote speaker of day 2, Ruben Puetendura, Ph.D., the father of the SAMR model concept. His topic is: Of Lively Sketchbooks and Curiosity Amplifiers: Thoughts on the iPad and Learning.
Ruben’s primary focus is the implementation of technology in the realm of education – not just in simple ways, but in meaningful and revolutionary ways. Today’s talk focuses specifically on the iPad. Why is the iPad special? One is its ubiquity. We find them everywhere. Another key element is that the iPad is intimate. We can use it without feeling that it gets in the way – it doesn’t have the same barrier that we feel using a laptop for example. The iPad feels like it blends into you. The third feature of the iPad is that it promotes a feeling of embeddedness. For example, you can take a picture of an object in a museum and then use it to look up information online and perhaps write a few notes on that image. It’s a portable recording and research tool that is embedded in how you think and what you expect to do.
Mobile devices, once you’ve had them for a certain amount of time, became a part of lives – they’re expected. We don’t anticipate being out of touch with those around us or not having access to content. The iPad is ubiquitous, intimate, and embedded in our lives; it is always with us, doesn’t get in the way, and can promote broader and deeper understanding and ideas. Ruben believes this has important implications for education.
The Curiosity Amplifier
Ruben highlights several elements pertinent to using the iPad. One is the iPad as curiosity amplifier. The iPad can be used to record not only your own actions/activities (e.g. surfing) but because it is connected to the web you can examine images of others doing the same thing (surfing, snowboarding, etc). You can then take your exploration to another level (what types of exercises should you do to improve your surfing technique?). Handheld devices are curiosity amplifiers – each element that you find or record further drives curiosity and exploration; it feeds off of itself in a circular way. The exploration has not specific end element – you continue until you choose to stop. To learn more about devices as curiosity amplifiers, check out this article
Another element to consider is that social learning encourages curiosity and passion. Learners accomplish more with “more knowledgeable others” than they do alone.
The device (the iPad) puts you in contact with a community of “more knowledgeable others” that is both real and virtual. It is also available to you all of the time. This is not the same as “I’ll look it up when I go home” or “I’ll catch up with those people at that conference.” No, this is available all of the time. Ruben hypothesizes that the curiosity amplifier effect is a result of the device becoming this ubiquitous, intimate, and embedded object.
With the iPad, there is a broad range of tools and resources that we can throw into the curiosity amplifier: Google Scholar, Image Search, Social Networks, news sites, situated searches (GPS/geographic), etc. There are a world of situated, social, and curated searches available to us based on what we want to explore and where. So it’s important when thinking about how we want to use these devices in learning, we must consider the whole spectrum and dynamic of the device.
Ruben brings us back to the basis of the SAMR model. He highlights the levels of the model and its impact on learning and students’ needs. As we move up the ladder, student levels of learning increase and results are more sophisticated and developed. At the top level, redefinition, you are accomplishing tasks that were previously inconceivable and you start to see radical shifts in student outcomes.
Ruben begins to outline how this process works in a concrete, real life example that focuses on math. The substitution level in this scenario involves adopting a “math application,” in this case “the math of sports.” They can see the connections between the sport and mathematic (statistics). At the next level, augmentation, we can use simulation apps for students to tweak angles and force (Angry Birds anyone?). At the modification level, students can use tools like Wolfram Alpha as a curated resource for content. The student can investigate the data and form a broader understanding of content based on their interest (e.g. Michael Jordan’s statistics) and apply it to broader statistical analysis. At the redefinition level, the student engages in a task that was previously not possible. In this case, the student takes their new understanding and makes a project that is tangible. In this case, the student builds a model of a device to throw a ball at the same force and angle of a ball player or perhaps to explore their own skills (in archery) to become a better archer.
The Lively Sketchbook
Ruben notes that the iPad is not designed to use large, prolific apps. Instead, it’s designed for smaller, bite-sized chunks. The students can create sketches, drafts, explorations of their ideas. Sketches help us to examine process and ideas in great detail than the finished product. Learning is a processual journey. For an effective sketchbook, we need tools. For doing good work in a sketchbook, Ruben argues you need tools in five categories: social, mobility, visualization, storytelling, and gaming. This tools allow for a lively and sophisticated sketchbook.
Again, he takes us through the SAMR model. A the substitution level students visit a museum and take photos and write notes using the iPad. At the augmentation level students use tools like timeline 3D to create a timeline. They may also modify the images or notes to explore their images in greater detail. At the modification level students choose an artist that they are especially interested in and explore them at a deeper level – exploring art through mapping or creation. At the redefinition level students can build their own three dimensional exhibits using the iPad. The exhibition is then shared with other students so that their peers can provide feedback and constructive input. The student creates an embedded narrative in a digital space.
Ruben recommends a paper by Clinton, et. al. “Confronting the Challenges of the Participatory Culture.” Students (and adults) belong to a social media environment. It involves expression, affiliation, creation, circulation, and even problem solving! It is not just a consumptive environment. We often think that students are already there and engaging creatively. But the reality is that only about 1/3 of students are engaged fully in this participatory culture (most are consumers or not engaging meaningfully). We need to work with and guide students in terms of how to behave in a participatory culture as well as ethical participation.
The example Ruben provides is a Social Studies project focused on Hurricane Katrina. In substitution, students would simply read content about the hurricane or witness other peoples’ work in various media (painting, photography, comics, etc). At the augmentation level students can “remix” and play with the content in interesting ways. At the modification level students choose an element of Hurricane Katrina that they find interesting and explore at a deeper level. To ground the project in an ethical context, the teacher provides data – e.g. the economic impact. At the redefinition level, there is both a group and individual project. Students edit, re-edit, and revise in a group context and then explore new environments as a community.
To learn more about Ruben’s ideas and the SAMR model, visit his blog.