Of Redefinition, SAMR, and the Ecosystem


Every minute of every day, users search Google over 4,000,000 times, share almost 2,500,000 pieces of content, and 72 hours of NEW video is uploaded to YouTube. And these numbers may even be a couple of years out of date. Only 130 websites existed just over 20 years ago, but Google had 67,000,000,000 (67 Billion) pages indexed in 2014–a statistic already woefully out of date given the pace at which online information is growing.

The volume of data created with every unconscious exhalation and every seemingly empty verbal pause is truly staggering. Every second.

And yet, when I search Google for samr “is redefinition possible?” I receive 2 results, both of which refer to the the global circulation of indigenous Australasian art–not exactly what I was looking for. I am increasingly convinced that redefinition, the logical top rung of the SAMR ladder, is more ethereal than concrete unless it is understood in the context of a broader ecosystem.

I discussed SAMR and the misunderstanding that it is merely a linear progression with each rung having an inherently better quality than the previous rung in a prior article. The top rung, in this misunderstanding, implies that using technology to completely redefine a task or a pedagogy is always the best outcome. I disagree.  SAMR does, however, provide a framework for the appropriate level of technology integration for a given educational need or context.

With this caveat out of the way, I turned to finding the most illustrative examples of technology integration according to the SAMR model. There are many. Very many. Alot. What was missing, though, were concrete examples of redefinition—thus, the two lone results from my initial and admittedly simple Google search. Again, however, my thinking from the very start of this search was wrong. I was looking for examples of redefinition according to a paradigm that does not exist in the world of SAMR redefinition. Redefinition is a transformative effort in which new tasks, categories, and methods are fostered in ways not possible in a traditional context.  Once a task has been redefined by the appropriation of technology, it becomes a new thing, not an altered version of the former thing.

So finding examples of a task or method that is progressively enhanced and even transformed to the point of redefinition is a largely moot effort. My conclusion, then, was that redefinition was ethereal, a logical but not concrete top rung.

I was wrong. Again. Redefinition does exist. But only in relationship to the ecosystem that its enabling technology creates along side it. I cannot demonstrate redefinition apart from an interconnected and symbiotic network of mutually supporting applications.

Next up: A simple example of an ecosystem that enables a transformative redefinition.