Using tech properly is a topic that is of great interest to me. I love how tools can affect us for good and bad. It’s important for churches not to blindly use tools or do things because others are doing it even when they are “good things.” We want to know how we can truly leverage these tools for the church and get the most out of them.
So I was very interested to hear about the SAMR framework on the out of school podcast and I realized this could be a useful tool to analyze how your church is using tech and to reflect on how we can use it better.
What is SAMR?
SAMR is a framework that compares the use of new technology, it was developed by Ruben Puentedura to analyze the effective of adoption of new tech within the Maine education system and divides the use of tools into before and after the line of transformation. You can check out his iTune U course on the subject here. The four stages stand for:
Substitution is where we do a like for like replacement of something with new tech. For example we use a projector with black text on a white background to replace the old ohp. There can be advantages such as reduction of cost, greater portability etc but we are using the new tool to do exactly the same thing.
Augmentation is where we use new tool to do the same tasks but slightly differently. So with the ohp example we can use better typography which makes it easier to read, maybe we add background pictures to enhance it aesthetically or we use a computer with a template to create the newsletter.
Modification is the first after the line of transformation. Now we use a tool to significantly change the task we were previously doing. An old example would be the shift from hymn book to overhead projection (where everyone could see the same words, looking up, not down, and we could easily add new songs weekly). Or using email to send out the newsletter with color images before the service.
Redefinition is where we do something completely new with the tech we have. It’s not just adding or changing a task, but completely new. Examples would include using videos and sites for “flipping the church” or the trend of multisite campuses. This is probably the most difficult part of technology, but the most exciting thing that can occur.
Should We Always Aim for Redefinition?
It’s easy to think that we should always try to use our tech for the redefinition of a task, but that’s not the case. As I pointed out at the start, even substitutions can (but not necessarily) be improvements for various reasons (although they can have negative side effects too).
Most of the time we sit somewhere between augmentation and modification and that’s a good thing, but if we can think of a way to use a tool for a redefinition, then we should as this will open up whole new areas and opportunities for our churches.
How is your Church Using its Tech?
Is your church only using technology to augment it’s services? Or maybe it’s modifying the tasks it does, perhaps you are missing out by not using the tools to their full potential. For me, I’m going make sure I don’t just stick at augmentation, but I will look for opportunities for redefinition of tasks using tools and how they can be applied in the church.