When is Substitution the right choice for teachers (in the SAMR model):
I struggle with this idea and I go back and forth on the merits of substitution. You have made the case for it, and I think it holds. And yet, the point of looking beyond substitution is so that we might reimagine the classroom and the student and teacher roles within it. Can we still do this, if we are looking at substitution as our entry point each time?
I believe you are absolutely right. We need to stop vilifying teachers for their instructional decisions to use technology as a substitute for a more traditional tool. It doesn’t help us to support ALL TEACHERS if we continue to make folks think that technology needs to redefine every task all of the time. The issue for me, though, is that when we do “focus on the learning” as you propose, it is difficult to imagine the case for simple substitution as the best approach much of the time. I like your example of using an app for the Magnetic Alphabet as a typical substitution task. However, I keep on thinking about how much more powerful it would be to have the students take screenshots of their apps as they went or project them via airplay to have a mini-lesson on a specific example. It isn’t that those extensions are required all of the time, but by having the conversation about those possibilities, it means that the teacher (master or not) is able to think about the ways in which these tools can transform the learning environment and make capturing learning (by students) so much easier.
So, I guess it boils down to this for me: “When is substitution a strong instructional choice, and when is it holding us back from reaching further?” I think that teachers should be asking that question and the same questions about whether technology (in some cases) is holding learning back? I believe there are opportunities for a low-tech/no-tech solutions work beautifully. However, the more that we encourage folks to think about the learning tasks in new ways, the more ownership students will have of the learning environment and the more engaged they will become.