The problem with the SAMR model

When using the SAMR model, educators may gloss over some important points

samr-modelLately, I have noticed a lot of talk about the SAMR model of technology integration. For those unfamiliar, SAMR is a framework for evaluating the level at which a given technology has had an impact on teaching and learning. The acronym stands for substitution, augmentation, modification, redefinition. It was designed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura to define the level of impact that a particular technology has on a learning activity. Each word in the acronym represents a higher level of impact.

For example, in the substitution level, a technology replaces a more traditional tool with no functional improvement. A class that uses Google Docs to write their essays instead of a pen and paper is at the substitution level. In the augmentation level, the change brings about some amount of functional improvement such as a teacher embedding comments in the student’s Google Doc rather than passing pages back and forth. The modification level indicates a substantial redesign of the task. Perhaps now the teacher incorporates peer sharing and feedback from classmates. Finally, the redefinition level describes a task that would previously have been impossible to do without the aid of the technology, such as a project where student writing is published to the web—and open for outside feedback—through Google Docs.

There is definite value to looking at your use of technology through this lens. Essentially it is forcing a teacher to ask herself, “Is the technology adding value to what I am doing?”

As I have watched teachers at my own school attempt to use the SAMR model to both evaluate current uses of technology and to plan future ones, I have begun to identify a few big concerns.

Next page: Is redefinition always the goal?

[photo used courtesy of Dr. Ruben Puentedura]

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