By Tim Hudson on September 13th, 2013
When our DreamBox team designs virtual manipulatives, we aspire to create interactive tools that don’t merely enhance existing manipulatives. Our digital lessons are designed to be transformative learning experiences for students that couldn’t exist without technology, like the virtual clock we built to help students understand how to tell and measure time.
Model for classifying technology use
The SAMR Model developed by Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura is helpful for understanding how we design digital tools and lessons at DreamBox. In this model, technology use is categorized as a Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, or Redefinition. The first two (S and A) are considered Enhancements to existing tools while the last two (M and R) describe the Transformation to significantly new learning tasks that were “previously inconceivable.” As educators and schools look for digital learning resources, the SAMR Model is a useful tool for helping identify technologies that will support the learning of all students in new, innovative ways.
Reimagining the clock for deeper mathematical thinking
As you can see in this video, our DreamBox virtual clock isn’t just a digital substitute for the clock manipulatives used in classrooms. We also didn’t simply make an interactive clock that students would use to answer questions on a digitized worksheet. Such digital augmentations of existing manipulatives couldn’t engage students in the deeper mathematical thinking that can be accomplished with a reimagined virtual clock.
Redefining the way we students learn to measure time
That’s why we designed our DreamBox virtual clock to involve students in significantly different learning tasks than were previously possible. First, our clock has multiple scaffolds and representations that enable DreamBox to differentiate and adapt for each student while he or she is learning and exploring. Also, some lessons require students to solve problems in which one hand on the clock is broken, while others ask students to set the time using a limited number of adjustments. New technology gives us the ability to redefine how students can learn to think critically about clocks and measuring time.
Strategic, intelligent design inspires new mathematical thinking
The same design thinking applies to everything we do at DreamBox. Our lessons, tools, and games aren’t merely digital substitutes or small enhancements for existing tools. Their strategic design is precisely what enables our adaptive engine to be the only truly Intelligent Adaptive Learning™ engine– differentiating uniquely for each student in real-time to ensure all students have the support they need to explore, reason, and succeed.