22 September 2015

4th level of SAMR with Minecraft

According to the local collective expertise of the neighborhood, I have done wrong when I use a computer game in homework, because no one can do it right? 

Actually I shouldn't bother, but it annoys me that you miss a lot of good learning that occurs automatically in a computer game while otherwise, in a more traditional teaching, you learn one thing, like a tool. Like to handle a saw without wood as Arjen put it:

My daughter (like every Finnish pupil) has one reading homework every day. Usually in combination with "but oh, why now? hasn't it been 10 minutes (of reading) yet?". When using a game they can sit there for both 30 as 40 minutes trying to break the code (and get a reward).

What did I do?
I did an animal corral in Minecraft, wrote LAMMAS on the sign and when she cracked the code, she put a sheep there. Actually, when she had cracked the code she said and I quote:
"L-A-M-M-A-S! Lammas! Det är ett får! It's a sheep dad!"
Instead of learn one language she was talking three languages! More information of the experience can be found here and here.

Together with my mentor I've tried to apply my method, using a game, to the SAMR model. 

Yes I know, it's a criticized model as it forces the teacher to re-think and therefore it's certainly very difficult and most likely a useless model. (Sarcasm)

Would it be possible without technology? 
"Partially, but not close to the same extent. Therefore we're moving to higher levels of SAMR. The interesting thing here is that she learns words in several languages and can almost feel what it looks like in reality."

As I got stunned by that code cracking I started to wonder 
  • What exactly is she learning?
  • What does she feel she might be learning?

My mentor replied: Where occurs learning? 
When I had her to reflect by herself, when she had to think a while and analyze what she's just done. More learning occurs.

There is finally the fourth level of SAMR: we have to define the task so the reflection can be found in the task's starting level.

The teacher's role?
As I hope is clear, the role of the teacher is no longer only to check, correct, and score the one answer that theoretically could be googled (able to find ready served replies). 

Instead, the teacher acts as a facilitator during the process to "crack the code" and afterward the one which makes the important questions:
  1. WHAT do you learn?
  2. WHEN do you do it?
  3. WHY do you learn? 
These questions you can't google the answers to.

What did she thought she had learned? Well, according to the three important questions she told me:
"I learn to read, when I practice, discuss and build. I learn because its fun and I can build it."
(AquaVera 7 yo)

Another important aspect, you see how uninteresting it suddenly became for the pupil / student to get involved with other things with his Internet speed than to get the right information?

3 June 2015

The experience of learning

Minecraft is the experience of learning.
The opposite to when you write in a book or listening to a lecture. 

The educational objectives could be applied on any subject, you just use Minecraft instead of paper and pencil. Simple as that. 

This way of learning usually fits like a glove to Generation G ...and stress the hell out of their teachers! The school of today can't keep up with developments, we are still learning as we have been taught without a thought of the target group living in the future.

How does a SAMR PRO look at my efforts trying to use games in the learning process?
As many other Minecraft teachers, I believe I hit the higher steps of SAMR just by using the game, mostly because so much is happening when you start use it that everytime you're exhausted. However, with an outsider's eyes, what does he sees as not I see? What kind of feedback can he give me that allows me to develop my way of using games in learning in a larger perspective. Keywords: Self-development, personal development.

So the math race was on as I told you the other day, the educational objectives was pretty simple: if I change the tool, will they better understand the overall objective?

Face the fact: 
Almost all students struggle with math, they can't see how to solve an equation on paper, but when you put it in the Minecraft content they suddenly understands and start to think, solve, makes arithmetic and more. Something intersting happens when using a game.

So, I had a chat with the SAMR PRO and when you force them to reflect of the challenge using the three questions WHAT, WHEN and WHY you're at step 3 in the SAMR model. 

Because I wanted a written report inside the game (so they also prove that they have taken themselves physically to the final goal) that would probably be quite difficult to implement without the technology, and according to my mentor it smells step 4. But now he suddenly seemed uncertain: exactly how to do a written report inside in a game like Minecraft? (Give and take my friends, give and take)

So, I had to give him the full picture, from the last challenge of the course's final destination and completion, report writing. And here you - dear readers - have it, from the text to the walkthru.

Rumors claim that there is an abandoned military base somewhere around the coordinates 48980 85 34241

We don't have an exact position, but we do have aerial photographs of the area.

This is the island you need to find!

There ought to be a secret, or at least hidden, entrance to the base. We have been told that there is a submarine hiding there, use it and transport you back to the civilization - taking you into the nearest town, looking up city hall and sit down and start thinking about what happened.

Take a pen and paper from the chest

Answer the following questions
  1. What did you like this way of questing?
  2. What has been the biggest challenge?
  3. What have you learned?
  4. When did you learn it?
  5. Why did you learn it?

Then you sign with your name and class, put the book in another marked coffin.

Welcome home and you now have two fresh study points! 
Enjoy the summer!

My learning and experience
When I have my students to reflect, I must ask the questions so that in their cooperation ends up thinking what someone has learned and why. I have to try to highlight why they can master the content (of a course) and, if it's math, also be able to put it into practice.

29 March 2015

Diversity in front of simplicity

When I'm talking about how I connect tech to the SAMR model in my examples it's exactly that part I'm talking about. The technology. But of course SAMR can be used even without 'tech', so far I havn't talked about that. 

When I use technology I try to use it as effective as it's possible for the moment. Therefor I reach different levels on the model and it's not always necessary to reach the higher levels. But when describing the steps how it would be possible to go there I hope I (or you my readers) could see how it would be possible to reach higher and hopefully without modify your own goals. 

With that said, this is not how I've solved the entire course.

As one of my friends comment on my previous blogpost 
"There should be some common ground between 'traditional teaching' and ICT." 

Of course, that is the key to success: to keep our students' interest, we have to vary our teaching so it's always interesting. A course full of powerpoints or minecraft won't make it! I have to use my whole toolbox and no matter what tool, I can be successfull if I use SAMR. The technology, as well as SAMR model, is totally useless unless I have an idea what I want to deliver. 

I want to take my teaching to a place where it's interesting to the students and I'm pretty sure they learn in another way that we're used to. So I have to step out of my comfort zone, and walk to their spot and deliever. And that's not always the easiest.

What comes to the project "Business administration with World of Warcraft" we never did play the game during the lectures, we mostly used PowerPoints and the whiteboard. However, when using World of Warcraft as a sandbox, we could draw parallels between reality and into a virtual world the participants were interested in. By doing that we have not had to modify our goals, we achieve them anyway. And as a result of that, we could meet halfway with many good and often lengthy discussions, unlike the traditional manner with the textbook examples when the students most often are sleeping.

We do not really need to learn and master the game, it's enough that we are interested in our students' interest and use this to our advantage. 

We took advantage of both parties knowledge to achieve a common goal, and that might be a step to the question "How do I utilise knowledge by choosing this or that?"

27 March 2015

Think SAMR ain't easy!

Again, thinking SAMR isn't the easiest. 

When I use a game in education like Minecraft I usually feel like I'm already on step three of the SAMR model but instead of accept the fact I start to think: why? How can I already be on the modification-level? As important as it is to hit a higher level, to really take advantages of tech, it's to understand how I came there. What have I done that's different with the other times, except "just" use a game (in education)? 

When you do some googling there's loads of examples of how you reach level 1-2 or level 3-4, but it's very rare to have the whole progress listed.

Sometimes I have to accept I'm on an higher level and start from there but my goal is to explain every single step, because I guess it would help me master the model. And yes, I know there's lots of critics against it but hey, it's just a model to support you.

When we use the Gamification tool Didactor - 14 games in one platform - I guess this is what happens:

Technology is used for processes that were possible before its introduction. We replace pen and paper to computers and the Internet.

Technology is used for processes that were possible before but they simplify and improve the performance.
Basically, students have the same type of information as before but it is easier for both teachers and students to make the data, it improves performance because the students get immediate feedback and the teachers have more time in the classroom.

Learning process begins designed in a new way because of the access to technology. Learning is developed.
Didactor has given students the opportunity to increase self-awareness and reflection, the students are no longer satisfied to complete the course without strive for higher ratings. Teachers are more present during the lessons, it's more fun to teach and they have a better chance of preventing learning problems. Learning is developed for both parties.

Technology is used that allows the creation of new tasks that were previously impossible. But we have not yet reached the fourth and final stage because we have not yet redefined data and questions.

Fourth level is important to show even though we didn't reached that level this time because it makes us thinking, what to do next?

Business administration with WoW?
What comes to Economics with World of Warcraft, a project we completed yesterday I have to accept to start from the third level.

Using a computer game (in this case, World of Warcraft) differs from traditional teaching in the classroom. Suddenly we have gained access to a concrete case in which our students can perform financial transactions that affect their way of understanding how financial markets work from a digital, social and educational content that both affect and are important to them. By the digital world as World of Warcraft adds, we can execute trades in a way that had not been possible with just paper and pencil because there already exists an economic system in the game, that students are very interested in (third level of SAMR: modification).

Even beyond our educational mission, the project idea is already alive and exist, it creates entirely new conditions that would not be possible in a regular classroom situation (fourth stage of SAMR: redefinition).

The trade that students make in the game affect other players who are not part of the task, which makes their actions have a greater impact than just within the school framework. This in turn means that students take greater responsibility and understand that every action has a consequence on other players, just as it is in the financial market where all the transfers have consequences.

Am I satisfied with the summary?
I'm satisfied getting such a good summary of level 3-4 but I'm still thinking what happened on level 2.

17 March 2015


Last week's Thursday my niece (the highschool girl) contacted me and wanted my help to ask my colleagues (in Finland) what they think about Sweden. It turned out she had gotten a task within the range of the national tests (Sweden has them) to give a speech about this subject. I asked her if she had ever used Google Drive and she replied negative and it got me a bit worried, negative on social media as well, negative answer to all kind of collaboration that I use with my students (upper secondary vocational).

So, to save some time, she had to put up with the questions. I helped her with Google Forms, added an add-on (autoCrat, so she got noticed every time someone had answered her form) and asked my colleagues via email and also through my PLN (Personal Learning Network)

My niece was so frustrated so I could almost touch it, her teachers seem to use their 1:1 tool (laptop) as a notebook but nothing more. They even get their tasks on paper and has to hand in paper reports. Paper? 2015? 

As she herself was doing something extra I start to wonder how long her efforts would go on the SAMR model.

Not very high I'm afraid, because the teacher hasn't changed the task it's entirely possible without technology, but with using Google Drive and Twitter we get a bit higher. And if she would have made a blog report we could even get as high as level 3.

We replace paper and pencil with technology.

We use Google Forms and spread through social media (Google+ & Twitter), technology acts as a direct replacement for other tools with functional improvements. That is step 2 of the SAMR.

If she would present their results through a blog, with comments (communication with outsiders) it will arises reflection. There we probably learning at a deeper level and passing the bar to step 3 on SAMR.  

There're two questions that usually helps start think about:
  1. Where does the learning start and why?
  2. How is the task defined, would it be possible without technology?

My advices to her

  • Try to think about what you have learned, when you learned it and why.
  • These three query words she should have included in his presentation as that would be very interested for her teacher. 
  • Make a blog report of it.
A blog report? when everyone else does a PowerPoint (as the teacher wants!) Am I nuts? Probably...

16 March 2015

Minecraft & SAMR

Note to myself:
This is the same blog post as in my other blog, I just want to have my educational journey at the same place.

My daughter Vera (Minecraft: AquaVera) goes in pre-school and the teachers use the old fashion, more traditional way of teaching. I still think they are trying to do the best possible, after their circumstances (no computers). Now when they have a project to build the kids own houses with cardboard they're also out, walking to see how everyone lives. I also believe young people needs a mix of learning methods, but as she anyway had this project and she wanted us to play Minecraft we agreed it could be awesome to build our house (and apartment) inside the game. 

Suddenly, while building our house it hit me, I'm using the SAMR model: what can I learn from this? 

These are my conclusions as I have come to when using Minecraft instead of cardboard house project. SAMR is based on the technology to improve or transform (four steps) way to learn and to define the data. And the picture is from the most awesome illustrator Sylvia Ducksworth.

We replace paper and pencil with technology.

We build our house and apartment in Minecraft, the technology works as a direct replacement for other tools, with functional improvement (to be built and watch it in 3D at scale, etc). I started with the foundation and after building a wall, she understood where we were and what we were going to build.


We have went out and taken pictures of the house in order to re-create the best possible way, the technology also makes it possible to major changes in approach (of our build).  

The collage of images above are some of the nearly 40 she took when we were out and thought about how we make the model better.

AquaVera has filmed how our house looks like and together we have shoot inside Minecraft to show our build. The technology enables tasks that are not possible without technology. 


We have together been thinking what we had learned, when and why. 

Vera told me, as a result of taking pictures of our house (phase 3) she has a better idea how to paint the cardboard project and from phase 4 she now has an idea how to create her model so it look as our flat. You could say she has become better at analyzing information and that's her learning. Build phase was fun, but we've done that before.

In both cases she looking forward to play with the models, both methods are in her opinion fun and gives her different points of view. Young people need both variety and help to evaluate their newfound knowledge.

I have learned that from small steps be able to see a whole picture and how I can then use the experience in other contexts. Also, this particular type of discussion is the most important in the educational development. 

It creates insights, it creates confidence to teachers / trainers, it enhances learning for students. This type of discussion is in my experience the essence of educational development!

In the beginning...

A year ago (2014) I finished my first Minecraft project and I made a first try to reflect what I've done during the last year. I tried to apply my thoughts to Ruben R. Puentedura's SAMR model and when doing that to Minecraft it turned out like this:

The lowest level is Substitution: 
Technology acts as a direct substitute  
Instead of work with papers, students use computers.

The second level is Augmentation: 
Direct substitute with functional improvement 
Instead of book encyclopedia students use wikis and YouTube to solve problems. 

The third level is Modification:
Technology allows for a significant task redesign 
With the Minecraft tool the students started to create 3D models of their schools and meanwhile learned different subjects, took screenshots, videoclips and used them in reports or microblogs.

The fourth level is Redefinition: 
Technology  allows for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable for example creating a calculator (electrical engineering), use a 2D sketch to create a 3D model (technical drawing), the experience: to actually walk around inside your 3D model and feel as you walk there in real life.

Finally, I have to agree with Techno Rookie about the best part. Neither did I had to move through these levels or through the SAMR model, I challenged my students, they adapt and overcome, with other words: they did the rest.