Planning for Unintended Consequences from IT

Dateline: February 15, 2013

Welcome to our Friday WRAP – one thought-provoking idea to think about over the weekend.

A blog by Sanne Bloemarts, a teacher and member of Educational Technology and Information Literacy (COETAIL), brought to light a simple framework for understanding how technology can be integrated into the classroom.  She adapted research by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, a consultant with over 25 years in K-20 educational institutions and creator of the SAMR model.

The SAMR model suggests that there are 4 levels of integration for an information technology:

  1. Substitution: Technology acts as a direct tool substitute with no functional change.
  2. Augmentation: Technology acts as a direct tool substitute with functional improvement.
  3. Modification: Technology allows for significant task redesign.
  4. Redefinition: Technology allows for the creation of new tasks previously inconceivable.

Bloemarts extended this model to look at how teachers’ work would be impacted by using information technology in the classroom.  She identified how critical technology has become to the teaching process in her article, “Technology is a given, not a debate.”  But we can see a further application of this model to the work environment, and the customer and employee experience.

These levels describe how technology is integrated into our work, and can be used to both describe and prescribe technology impacts on our organizations.  When you ‘refresh’ the technology,  it might be simply to substitute an old, outdated system that is expensive to support for a newer one that is more efficient.  But it might also have unintended consequences that change how a task is done, modifying or redefining tasks.  This simple SAMR model gives some structure to planning for the consequences of a new technology.

How do you think about the integration of technology into your organization?  How do you plan for the intended and unintended consequences?

That’s a WRAP!  Have a wonderful weekend.

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