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SAMR Model Visually Explained for Teachers

February 9, 2017
With the pervasive use of technology inside our classrooms, pedagogical concerns related to the effectiveness of technology in transforming education and creating optimal learning experiences come to the surface. Every teacher drawing on technology in their instruction has probably, at a certain point in time, mulled over questions such as: does technology always work for every instructional task? Does it enhance students learning? How about distractive features that come with this technology. Do they affect students learning?

The strengths and weaknesses of technology is a topic that has been extensively covered in a wide variety of studies and the extant literature  in this regard features multiple examples.  The stance we have always espoused towards technology is one that celebrates its strengths and capitalizes on the advantages and affordances it provides for us in education while also working diligently to raise awareness of its inconveniences and help minimize their impact on learning.  One way to do this is by introducing teachers to the different analytical frameworks they can use to assess, select, and use technology in their instruction. These are basically conceptual models that provide a number of guidelines for teachers to reflect on when trying to implement technology in class. After we have covered criteria for assessing educational apps to use with students, today’s post is highlighting another important analytical framework called SMAR.

SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition) is  a four-level conceptual framework  developed by Dr Ruben Puentedura (2006) to help teachers make  effective use of technology in their instruction. It provides ‘a framework to support educators and instructional designers in creating optimal learning experiences using mobile devices in education’(Roomers et al.,2014.  p. 79). SAMR can also be used to encourage ‘teachers to ‘move up’ from lower to higher levels of teaching with technology, which according to Puentedura, leads to higher (i.e., enhanced) levels of teaching and learning.’ (Hamilton et al., 2016. p. 434). To help teachers better understand the SMAR concept we designed this illustrative visual based a number of interesting resources (see list at the bottom of this post)

The visual below is available for free download from this link (no commercial uses please).

SAMR Model Visually Explained for Teachers

1- Substitution Level
Using digital technology to replace analog technology, but this replacement does not result in any functional change. Example: Asking students to use a word editor to compose a piece of writing.

2- Augmentation
Digital technology is employed in a functional way to augment the learning task. Example: Using Google Docs inner features to write a paper. These features include: search functionality, spell check. voice typing, Explore..etc.

3- Modification
Digital technology is used to significantly redesign a learning task. Example: students use a digital portfolio tool to embed multimedia materials (e.g text, images, videos, diagrams, charts..etc) to showcase their learning.

4- Redefinition 
At this level technology is used in a transformative way to create new learning tasks that would not otherwise have been created. Example: students use Skype Classroom to connect with a class from another part of the world or to hold live discussions with an expert or language teacher.

Hamilton, R., Rosenberg, M. & Akcaoglu, M. (2016).The Substitution augmentation modification redefinition(SAMR) model: A critical review and suggestions for its Use. Tech Trends, 60:433-441, DOI 10.1007/s11528-016-0091-y
Puentedura, R. (2006). Transformation, technology, and education [Blog post]. Retrieved from
Romrell, D., Kidder, L. C., & Wood, E. (2014). The SAMR Model as a Framework for Evaluating mLearning. Journal Of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 18(2), 79-93.
Davis, E. (2014). SAMR Made Easy with Google Apps. Google Apps Action. Retrieved from