Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Back to Basics: SAMR

As a Learning Technologist I feel it is important to be able to stand back and take a broader view of the technology landscape. It is all too easy to be drawn into thinking about the details of promoting this device, that software or some other new technology. It’s important not to lose sight of the other elements that are necessary to make the implementation valuable for both the teaching and learning experiences. It is therefore useful sometimes to revisit underlying frameworks that can enable this to happen.

One such framework is known as SAMR. This stands for:

  • Substitution
  • Augmentation
  • Modification
  • Redefinition

SAMR allows you to think about what value a technology could bring to the mix. Basically, the categories represent different levels of impact the technology is making. Whilst it can be argued that elements can’t be slotted into a particular level in this way, it doesn’t detract from the fact that the framework allows the consideration of value to take place prior to implementation.

Level 1: Substitution

The technology acts as a direct substitution for the analogue approach, with no functional change. So basically you are replacing a learning approach with an equivalent one using more technology.

i. Online printable worksheets that students print off and fill in.
ii. Students typing in notes instead of writing them down by hand.

Level 2: Augmentation

The technology acts as a direct substitution, with some functional change.


i. Students take an online quiz instead of on paper. This enables faster marking and quicker feedback.
ii. Students type in an essay, and add in images to enhance the storytelling. This is made easier with digital technology.

Level 3: Modification

Implementing the technology allows for significant task redesign, adding further value to the learning experience.

i. Students create an audio podcast about the topic which is shared online for comment and feedback.
ii. Students create blog posts that are again open to comment and review enabling feedback, reflection and development in their learning.

Level 4: Redefinition

Implementing the technology enables the creation of new tasks that couldn’t otherwise be achieved.

i. Students work online directly with fellow students in different countries for greater authenticity in the learning experience.
ii. Students video conference with experts in the subject, record and share this experience as part of a video piece for further discussion.

The first two levels can be seen as Enhancement levels and the last two as Transformative.

The SAMR model was developed by Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura. You can find more information on his blog and this video is Dr. Puentedura introduction the concept.

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