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Integrating Technology in K-12 Classrooms

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

So you’ve realised you need to keep up with the 21st-century demands and decided you need some level of digital transformation of the learning environment in your school. You invest in smartboards for all your classrooms. You even pay for a premium subscription to get your students and teachers on a reputed LMS that hits all the buzzwords: social learning, mobile accessibility, scalability etc.

Introducing our state-of-the-art e-learning platform, where the only thing more advanced than the technology is the students' ability to ignore it. But don't just take our word for it, come see for yourself and join the exclusive club of students who are more interested in watching TikTok for free than this thing we spent millions of dollars on.

What’s wrong with that, you ask?

We must give students the autonomy to choose how they learn. As long as they are learning, even if it’s from TikTok, what’s the harm?

For one, content on such platforms is not consistent or verified. Often, students are influenced by the popularity of an influencer, with or without an educator’s background.

Of course, there remains the question of ROI on that multimillion-dollar platform you implemented. Why are students not using it?

Before you invest any time or money into any EdTech solution or standalone tool, know your context, and identify the needs of your school and your students. This is important so you don’t end up with a failed implementation of technology in the classroom: technology for technology’s sake.

Ask yourself:

  • What will this technology help me accomplish?

  • What do I need to achieve for my school and its students?

  • Does it have a direct impact on my students' learning?

  • What does this technology give my school, its staff, and our students what traditional teaching tools can’t?

  • Is my infrastructure and students equipped to use this technology in line with the curriculum?

  • How much time and human resources does my school have to devote to making it work?

Is Your School Ready for EdTech?

  • Leadership support:

    • Is your school's leadership team supportive of the integration of technology in education?

    • Is the management willing to invest in the necessary hardware, software, and professional development?

  • Professional development:

    • Will teachers be trained to use the technology being implemented in the classroom?

    • Will the staff be educated on how to use EdTech to enhance teaching and learning?

  • Infrastructure:

    • Does your school have the infrastructure to support the use of technology in the classroom?

    • Do you have reliable internet access?

    • Do you have the means to provide up-to-date hardware and software?

  • Curriculum alignment:

    • Does EdTech align with the school's curriculum?

    • Will EdTech support students’ learning?

  • Student access:

    • Will every student have access to technology both in the classroom and at home?

    • Would they need individual devices?

    • Will they be taught how to use technology appropriately and safely?

  • Evaluation:

    • Do you have plans and processes in place to evaluate the impact of technology on student learning?

    • Would you have the bandwidth to make adjustments as needed?

Set Yourself Up for Success

And how would one do that? If only there were a simple framework to evaluate if the implementation of the chosen EdTech solution will empower students.

One such framework is the SAMR model. Let’s dive right into it!

What is The SAMR Model?

It is a framework created in 2010 by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, a renowned technology and education expert. It categorises four degrees of classroom technology integration.

Substitution: Technology, in this base layer, acts as a direct replacement for traditional methods. Think:

  • Online PDFs to replace (or provide an alternative to) traditional printed textbooks.

  • Students submitting assignments in a Word document online instead of submitting on paper.

  • Automatically-graded online MCQ tests instead of pen and paper tests.

These technological tools act as a substitute, without any functional changes to a student’s learning.

Augmentation: This is where technology begins to enhance students’ learning experience. With technology, students now have access to interactive features and functions. Think:

  • Explainer videos to augment textual explanations and aid students’ grasp of a concept/phenomenon.

  • Voice-to-text software to help a student with dysgraphia write.

Modification: At this stage, technology begins to transform how students learn and execute tasks. In the substitution stage where a Word document helped students enhance formatting etc, with a shared document or presentation, students can now create, collaborate, and communicate with classmates in real-time online, seeking feedback from the teacher to implement changes before re-submitting. Think:

  • Students create multimedia projects with text, visuals, videos and audio as against just a textual report.

  • Students can have more immersive learning experiences with the use of AR or a VR headset to explore historical sites and understand complex and inaccessible scientific phenomenon.

  • With Google Expeditions (a virtual reality tech tool), teachers can guide their students on class excursions from places all around the world, from the safety of their own classroom.

Redefinition: This is where integrated EdTech truly transforms a student’s learning experience by creating tasks that were hitherto inconceivable in a traditional teaching-learning ecosystem. Imagine your students:

  • Connecting with students around the world as part of the learning journey, gaining an understanding of cultural and social differences, and discussing a wider range of perspectives.

  • Collaborating with different nationalities from the comfort and security of their homes or classrooms.

  • Collating their findings on a socio-economic issue in their context, publishing it online and seeking inputs from students of different countries based on their own context to finally publish a more global report.

SAMR explained

How to Use the SAMR Model?

​Every Edtech solution seems to scream:

Welcome to the jungle

We got fun 'n' games

We got everything you want, honey

We know all the names

We are the people that can find whatever you need

If you got the money, honey

We got your disease

The hundreds of EdTech solutions don’t need to bring you down to your knees, knees!

And that’s where the SAMR model can help. It provides you a framework to analyse the benefits of using technology in your classrooms BEFORE you go spending your time, resources, and money on any of it. Spare yourself the heartburn and save yourself from unnecessary disillusionment.

Do you really need VR to modify learning? Perhaps that’s not where you need to start.

Where SHOULD you start then? Ask yourself the following questions. They are simple, yet effective, and will help you determine which stage of the SAMR model suits your needs.

How to apply the SAMR model

Myth: Integrating EdTech in the Classroom is expensive.

Let’s take Kahoot! for example. A gamification-based quiz platform that’s extensively used by individuals and in schools. Anyone can use it for free, but for more than 10-player use, advanced gameplay and management features, you’d need to buy a subscription for your educational institute. And even then it is still a low cost option than more EdTech offerings in the market.

Depending on how this one tool is used, it can substitute, augment, modify or redefine learning. Let’s see how!

Edtech does need to be expensive

Myth: EdTech gets more and more advanced and expensive for each stage of SAMR.

Fact: It’s not the technology, but to what end you use it to substitute, augment, modify or redefine a student’s learning. Learning is redefined when technology is integrated seamlessly, effectively and meaningfully to provide students with new opportunities. Have a look at the tools used in the SAMR model to teach English, for example. Are their costs directly proportionate to the stage of SAMR? No.

Myth: Redefinition is what all schools must aim for as it transforms learning and promotes higher-order thinking skills.

Fact: No, relevance is what schools must aim for. Say, for example, you are short-staffed, need consistency of test materials, and quick grading to ease the pressure on teachers, do you need a multimillion-dollar LMS with bells and whistles? Or will a school subscription to Kahoot! suffice?

Disclaimer: We are in no way promoting or associated with Kahoot! The examples in this blogpost are solely to explain ideas in a consistent and simple manner.


"A solid foundation of effective teaching methodologies,

generous base of teachers that inspire a love of learning,

(and all you may really need is)

a light garnish of relevant EdTech for unforgettable flavour.

Slowly bake with patience and a passion for student success,

until a delicious dish of education is served and enjoyed."

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