Introducing the HIP-E Framework for Levels of AUTHENTIC Tech Use

I’ve always thought that education frameworks are a bit of a double-edged sword. Yes, they often help us to simplify complex processes by making them easier to understand, but at the same time we run the risk of dumbing down or compartmentalizing what we’re doing by taking something that’s complex (but valuable) and turning it into concrete steps or stages.

In the world of educational technology, the most popular framework is easily the SAMR Model (read about it here), which I was first introduced to back in 2011. Three brief thoughts on the model:

  • On many occasions I’ve heard educators heatedly debate where their lessons fall on the SAMR Ladder. For me, this is splitting hairs. We should simply be asking ourselves, “Are we first and foremost meeting the needs of our students, while using technologies to accomplish what we couldn’t otherwise do without the technology itself?”
  • When we obsess over SAMR, we’re potentially doing wrong by our students. Just because a lesson is “above the line” (modification or redefinition), doesn’t mean worthwhile learning is happening. (For an example, see one of my previous posts, The Problem with App Smashing.)
  • If we focus our professional learning on solid pedagogy (without overemphasizing technology), educators will usually find their own ways to leverage technologies to enhance what they’ve learned. As I mentioned in a post on student-run Edcamps:
Christina [first grade teacher] was able to incorporate various technologies into her classroom, despite the fact that none of our Writing Workshop professional learning explicitly focused on technology. We learned about the Writing Workshop framework (along with the Units of Study), and once she developed a deep understanding of these practices, the natural next step for her was to enhance what she was doing with a combination of technologies that (1) were already available to her, and (2) she explored through a webinar. Furthermore, several other teachers have also taken it upon themselves to do the same.

I do believe the SAMR Model is a fine starting point for those who are at the early stages of regularly integrating technologies into their instruction. But, I have found that an overreliance on a technology framework places too much emphasis on technology (surprise, surprise), and not enough of a focus on the actual learning that’s taking place. One way to view this problem is that there’s nothing wrong with the model; it’s how you use it.

While something like movie making used to be cutting edge, it is now simply not enough. (After all, most students can reach into their pockets and do this whenever they want.) Now, the true power of technology is when students (and adults) are publishing, promoting, and advancing their brands. In short, digital footprints are the new iMovie.

Here’s a look at the HIP-E Framework for levels of authentic technology use. And yes, solid pedagogy still matters. But, if we withhold publishing (and more) from students until they’ve learned the basics, we’re doing them a disservice. Often times, the allure of authentic and relevant work serves as motivation, as I described in What Comes First, the Writing or the Blogging?

That being said, the framework…

1. Hand It In

Student hands in work to an audience of one, the teacher
 (e.g., shares video with teacher via Google Drive)

2. Imitation

Student posts work for certain people to see and possibly comment
 (e.g., posts video to classroom website for teacher and classmates)

3. Publish

Student shares work on at least one authentic platform for mostly everyone to see and comment
 (e.g., posts video to YouTube, uses comments & feedback to further progress)

4. Entrepreneurship

Student promotes work on at least one authentic platform for mostly everyone to see and comment, and to advance her own brand
 (e.g., creates a video, which also includes a promo for her podcast — posts video to YouTube, uses comments, feedback, and interactions to further progress and to grow her audience)

In the End

For more thoughts on the significance of students making their work public, check out Digital Portfolios and Blogs: Use Authentic Technology, Not Technology Made for School and Why Write for Your Teacher When You Can Publish for the World?

As I’ve said before…

Not only should students be learning how to do their work, they should be learning and experiencing how to share and market their creations.

Our students have access to the very same tools that are used by countless adults to make a living. If it’s what adults “do,” our students should be doing it as well. And, if we’re not equipped to teach our students, maybe we can let them teach us.

What are your thoughts on the HIP-E Framework?
(And yes, I’m a huge Grateful Dead fan.)

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Originally published at on October 16, 2017.