What is SAMR?

The SAMR Model is a way about thinking how technology is used with learning tasks. Putting students in front of a digital device obviously is not enough. We have as teachers a responsibility to help design an experience for learning and when technology is included, we can view its role in at least four different ways.

The name is an acronym for the four levels created by Dr. Ruben Puentedura. We like the model because it’s pretty easy to understand what the four levels are. It’s also easy to recognize when there’s room for re-thinking learning tasks to maximize the potential of the technology’s role with learning.

Is technology enhancing instruction, or transforming it?

  • Substitution: the technology used simply replaces the utility of something non-digital; reading a book online instead in a book, is an example.
  • Augmentation: the technology replaces an analog tool, but it also offers some added benefit. A good example here is a multi-touch, digital textbook, that allows students to mark-up the book with highlights, create flashcards, or includes multimedia content for considering information in different ways.
  • Modification: in this stage, the technology begins to re-shape what learning looks like because it offers added benefits in the tasks students undertake. For instance, in a writing assignment, being able to receive comments from multiple readers using a tool like Google Docs encourages additional layers of feedback and an opportunity for collaboration. We could still get feedback and collaborate without Google Docs, though, right? But it’s much more efficient.
  • Re-definition:: in this stage, new tasks are possible as part of the learning activities by having access to technology. Let’s say you want kids to learn more about poetry through writing a rap. With today’s technology, we can reframe this activity with tools like GarageBand to encourage professional-level fidelity and sharing online of a student’s song. A rap sung with clapping gets the point across. But how more deeply will kids be engaged with having the option to drop in real drum loops, a groovy beat, and some vocal effects to enhance their voice? Second, how can kids gain an audience for their work? Online, students can review each other’s work and share it with a worldwide audience. Technology in this case re-defines the audience for student creativity and likely increases student engagement with the task.

For coffee fans, learn how SAMR is a lot like coffee at Starbucks.