Education technology used to include books, chalk, and a piece of slate. Today it has grown into a massive array of digital learning tools ranging from tablets and laptops to smart boards, sound reinforcement, and mobile apps. It can be overwhelming to even think about, let alone chart a course for the planning, training, and implementation that would make a technology an instructional success. Our team here at Macro Connect has had the good fortune to work alongside hundreds of districts on a variety of edtech selections and evaluations. These experiences have allowed us to document processes for selecting and effectively using classroom technology.

With that said, we’re excited to share a case study on those processes at the 2019 MACUL Conference. MACUL is Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning, a non-profit dedicated to bringing educators from all levels together to share their knowledge and best practices within education technology. On Thursday, March 21st at 1:00pm, we’ll be on stage with Pam Shoemaker from Walled Lake Consolidated Schools for “Bring Your Digital Vision to Life!” In the presentation, we’ll share artifacts from our Digital Learning Assessment and the actual tools and tactics that Pam and her team are deploying to improve technology utilization across their district.

2019 MACUL Conference

If you haven’t registered for this year’s MACUL Conference (March 20th-22nd), we encourage you to do so. Every year, it ends up being a great place to beg, borrow, and steal great technology practices from other districts. Click here to read about the Keynote Speakers and here to register. Hope to see you there!

If you can’t make the conferences, no worries. We’ll cover some of the broad strokes below and share a copy of the final presentation after the event. Come back in late march to read it in full. We’ll also be hosting an after-hour networking social for educators at our headquarters – you can access the event page and register here.

An Overview: “Bring Your Digital Vision to Life!”

Last spring, we partnered with Walled Lake Consolidated Schools to complete a Digital Learning Assessment (DLA). These DLAs gave well-documented insight into how technology is being utilized across the district. Regardless of district size or level of technology integration, we always follow the same, simple process:

  • Technology Inventory: We begin the process by reviewing your inventory of hardware and instructional software, the devices and programs, so we know what your staff and students are working with (and without).
  • Data Gathering: Next, things get personal. We sit down with your staff, conduct SWOT sessions, interviews and focus groups, and walk through the school to observe actual instruction. This gives us real-life data on how technology is being deployed for learning. Where possible, we also dive into educational systems to access technology utilization data.
  • Reporting & Next Steps: Finally, we summarize our findings and share our recommendations for taking teaching with technology to the next level.

SAMR Evaluation

An important tool in our evaluation process is the SAMR Evaluation Model. SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. Together, these four concepts outline the four tiers of classroom technology integration, from the most basic to the most advanced. We use the SAMR Evaluation to help you understand where your district falls in the spectrum of classroom technology utilization. It also helps explain the reasons for change along with the benefits you can expect.

  • Substitution: The first level of change is one in which you simply replace an older teaching tool like an atlas with a piece of technology like Google Earth. Here, technology acts as a direct substitute without affecting the lesson itself. It’s an easy way to enhance the learning experience since many technologies offer a deeper, richer opportunity for learning.
  • Augmentation: The second level of change is where you substitute a newer piece of technology for an older one, but as a result, you also modify and enhance the lesson itself to capitalize on the new capabilities. Continuing with our Google Earth example, it would be like having students dive deeper into Google Earth to measure the distance between two places instead of estimating or using a paper map’s scale.
  • Modification: Modification takes it to the next level where you’re really transforming the lesson itself. At this third level of change, you use the capabilities of the technology to significantly redesign the project or lesson. You might have your students use the layers tool of Google Earth to research more about a location on the map to gain a deeper understanding than you would have with just an atlas.
  • Redefinition: Finally, we come to the fourth stage of change where we realize the goal of education technology, which is to create new lessons and learning activities that would have been impossible with traditional tools. In our Google Earth example, a teacher could have their students use it to create narrated, guided tours of a location which they can share online with other students.

The SAMR model allows us to concretely document where you fall on the spectrum of creating new possibilities for teachers and learners, across a variety of categories. This framework also gives us a common vocabulary for any recommendations that take focus areas to the next level.


There are countless possibilities for enacting change in your school or district, which is why we distill our action items down to 2-3 priority areas based on a district’s vision and goals. For example, Walled Lake Consolidated Schools committed their enhancement efforts to three main areas:

  1. Develop site-based edtech teacher leader program
  2. Leverage community-driven professional learning pathways and single sign-on (SSO*)
  3. Narrow the professional learning to a monthly focus topic

Want to learn more about where these initiatives landed? Join us on March 21st at 1 pm!

*Interested in learning more about how districts are utilizing single sign-on as a strategic advantage? Join us for a free, informational webinar with ClassLink on March 15th at 10 am. Register for your spot here.

Get Started Now

Whether you’re looking to incorporate one new piece of technology or revamp your entire technology platform, discipline around decision making and new technology investments is key. Our tools give you the comfort of knowing you’re thinking about technology from a standards-based perspective so that each stakeholder’s priorities are addressed. To get started, just give us a call. We’d be happy to sit down with you and talk about your goals, and our first meeting is always free. We look forward to helping you and your teachers maximize the instructional return on all your technology investments.

Also, don’t forget to come see our presentation at MACUL on March 21st. The session will be packed with even more detail about our Digital Learning Assessment and Walled Lake’s process for continuous improvement around technology. You’ll never think about technology utilization the same way again!

PS – even if you can’t make it to the presentation, come say hello at our after-hours party at Hunt Street Station! We’d love to see you here.