Educational Technology Models

Theorizing instructional technology implementation

Technology enhances education in substantive ways

There has been some debate amongst researchers and policy makers about whether technology in education inherently adds value to a learning situation simply by being present, or whether the opposite is true--that the technology is value-negative by nature. While there are a great many quantitative studies showing only modest or even negative effects on learning outcomes, there is sufficient data that suggests positive effect sizes so as to prompt many researchers to place classroom technologies into the category of modestly value positive. When paired with effective pedagogy, the gains become much more substantive. (Magaña & Marzano, 2014) Teacher perceptions and beliefs contribute to the metric of how well technology enhances learning. When teachers are knowledgeable and cognizant of learner-centered strategies and deliberate about technology usage, their classrooms tend to be notable examples of student-centered learning. Barriers toward technology integration include a teacher's perceived lack of their own proficiency with technology, along with lack of resources. (Ertmer, Ottenbreit-Leftwich, Sadik, Sendurur, & Sendurur, 2012)

The first major meta-analysis of 1:1 laptop programs examined experimental studies of the impact on 1:1 laptops on norm-referenced or standardized tests. Zheng et al. (2016) analyzed the outcomes of nearly 100 studies and found gains positive gains in English, Reading, Writing, Math, and Science. The authors remark that the teaching and learning climate has changed rapidly in the past decade, and teacher perceptions may play a large role in how effective technology is in realizing such gains. The researchers also noted that technology is being utilized in a greater variety of learning activities, and the use of student-centered learning and project-based learning was shown to have increased

In a qualitative case study, McKnight et al. (2016) identified compelling ways that technology and strengthened seven schools. They found that technology eased the burden of daily routines, automating processes in such a way that teachers were able to focus on pedagogy improvements. They noted that teachers were able to incorporate a broader range of updated, current resources within content areas. Technology also provided accessibility solutions and differentiation methods previously out of reach. The found that teachers used technology to create connections between people and connections with new information. The exposure to new ideas and perspectives increased. The cumulative effect in these schools was a transformation of the role of a teacher in a technology-rich classroom from that of a source of information to that of a coach, facilitator, and collaborator in social constructivist contexts. Such transformations happen when schools and teachers are willing to embrace new ways of knowing and learning over time. The change does not happen overnight. This section outlines some of the theoretical ideas that speak to technology integration.


I completed relevant and meaningful instructional technology projects during my time in the CPED cohort. The first was a wide-ranging survey of resources and how they might be categorized according to two theoretical frameworks, the SAMR model (instructional technology), and the MPIES model (science) discussed in Strand B. In order to identify pieces of technology that facilitate deep science connections, I curated a searchable resource bank of instructional technology tools and assets that align with areas of the two aforementioned models.

The new science standards are not designed to be taught in a technology-free vacuum. Not only is technology actually a part of the standards, embedded in the Engineering domain of the Disciplinary Core Ideas, but technology tools are used by scientists in the real world and that reality should be reflected in three-dimensional instruction that includes the Science and Engineering Practices. Not only that, but technology usage has a motivational factor that is quickly becoming the norm, rather than the exceptional novelty. Instructors who have previously avoided embedding technology usage in their classroom will do a disservice to students if they continue to do so through the transition.

There are two different prominent models about technology usage in the classroom. One of these, the SAMR Model, is a hierarchy that assists teachers in identifying increasingly effective ways to incorporate technology tools. (Puentadura, 2006) As teachers become comfortable with technology usage, they may move from the Substitution level, in which technology simply replaces traditional tools without providing a great deal of change to the task or functional improvement. At the Augmentation level, tools make life easier for students and teachers, but don’t change the nature of the task involved. The Modification and Redefinition levels see students and teachers doing new and different things, from redesigning a traditional learning activity to creating new learning experiences and new products. The author of the SAMR model has also discussed these levels in terms of Bloom’s Taxonomy. (Ruben Puentedura, 2014) framework in which teachers are stretching their students with higher order learning, scaffolded with technology appropriate to the task. He couples Bloom’s and SAMR with the objective of helping teachers move up both ladders at the same time in order to improve the educational experience of their students. This suggests that tools that allow for modification or redefinition of a task, are the same tools that will foster critical thinking, creativity, and higher order analysis.

One effective use of a learning management system that highlights the augmentation and modification ideas of the SAMR model is to create assignments in which students can easily revise and resubmit after receiving teacher feedback. Types of feedback can include written, auditory, or audiovisual. Often the latter is the most time-efficient and effective, as it gives the teacher an opportunity to give detailed, personal suggestions. Once students are trained in where to find the feedback and how to resubmit the assignment, the process becomes a very valuable tool for authentic learning. It allows for an ongoing dialog between teacher and student, in which the teacher pushes, and the student responds by revising and resubmitting. This process is not impossible on paper, but it is quite cumbersome and time-consuming. In contrast, I’ve experienced situations in which students submit an explanation several times in a single day, allowing a sense of immediacy and continuity of thought process, as well as an extension of the inquiry process into a separate time and space.

Davis TEAC 959 Portfolio Reflection.docx
(“SAMR Model,” 2017)

(Koehler, 2012)

Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge

The TPACK model delineates domains of knowledge that teachers possess and serves as a useful tool for identifying strengths of teachers across these domains. (Koehler & Mishra, 2009) They may be proficient in the domains of Technological Knowledge (TK), Content Knowledge, (CK), Pedagogical Knowledge (PK), or any combination of the three. Abbitt (2011) showed that these domains may predict self-efficacy. This model may serve to be useful in identifying reasons why teachers may shy away from either inquiry teaching, teaching with technology, or both. Maeng, et al. describe a study of preservice teachers and their technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) in the context of inquiry science teaching. They review some of the challenges that have prevented widespread inquiry adoption, including the confusion of inquiry with hands-on learning, lack of content knowledge, and standardized testing. Their qualitative research focused on how preservice teachers use technology to support inquiry learning and how this tech-enhanced instruction show their TPACK.

The researchers found that technology was used to support inquiry in both experimental and non-experimental ways. When not engaged in direct experimentation, teachers used technology to guide investigation of scientific items of interest, lesson openers, or other research opportunities. They outlined common inquiry-based uses of technology that included the presentation of simulations in front of the class, followed by hypotheses, observations, and conclusions. Smaller group investigations used technology to support data collection, analysis or communication. Sometimes the teacher computer was used to collect data for the entire class so that it could be analyzed. The authors noted that some of the student teachers didn’t use technology as much as they had hoped or expected, in some cases because of their cooperating teachers’ methods. They noted that time and preparation are not always as simple as expected. (Maeng, Mulvey, Smetana, & Bell, 2013)

T3 Framework

Like others in the aforementioned value debate, Magaña (2017) argues that most technologies themselves can be thought of as inherently value neutral. He places the use of a given technology on a continuum depending on the methodology and context in which the tools are used. He looks specifically for ways that technology can work with classroom practices to transform the learning process. Magaña's T3 Framework delineates stages in which technology usage moves from low-value to high-value. He refers to these stages as translational, transformational, and transcendent. At face value, this theorization resembles that of the SAMR model, but the difference lies in the specific application to pedagogical practices. SAMR is broad and generalized, while the T3 Framework focuses on teaching praxis. Translational technology usage is, on the surface, analogous to Pentadura's substition in the SAMR model: analog tools are simply swapped out for digital ones. But looking past the tool to the task itself shows that if an analog pedagogical practice is grounded in delivery by the teacher and consumption by the student, then the digital translation will be similarly grounded. The second of the three tiers is transformational technology use, in which the learning tasks change from teacher-centered to learner centered. It features student production, collaboration, and contributions mediated by novel use of technology. Magaña marks transformation as occurring when a technology use draws on students' ability to learn at higher levels. The third area of the framework is transcendent technology usage. This is driven by student interests, motivations, and their desire to impact the world around them. It includes critical pedagogy when it relies on technology to achieve goals that would otherwise be unobtainable.

It’s important for teachers to start at a tech place they’re comfortable with. As with content and pedagogical knowledge, technological knowledge grows as a novice teacher becomes experienced. As teachers are learning to use technology, sometimes the best way may be to start with pedagogy they’re familiar with in a traditional classroom. When identifying where a tool falls on the SAMR hierarchy, it is imperative to recognize that in many cases, teachers may do entirely different things with the same tool. As they adopt Substitution and Augmentation practices, they will feel more comfortable pushing up into Modification and Redefinition.