Learn these SAMR model essentials straight from its creator

SAMR creator Ruben Puentedura discusses the must-know elements of his model via video

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In the video above, SAMR creator and ed-tech thought leader Dr. Reuben Puentedura takes a deep dive into his model, explaining the definitions and how teachers can use it to further student learning. The model is broken into four levels, explained Puentedura, each with a successively greater impact on student outcomes.


Substitution. At this level, technology is only being used to replace previous technology — such as pen and paper. “The only thing you have to be aware of is it tends not to modify student outcomes,” Puentedura said.

Augmentation. Here is where educators begin to do something they couldn’t do before using new technology. The task is mostly the same, but at least some aspect is significantly altered.

Modification. While the task might remain generally the same, it uses the technology in more thoughtful and focused ways to allow students to express themselves in new ways and collaborate with peers to create something new. The ultimate goal is for students to mentor each other and find an authentic audience in their peers.

Redefinition. Here, teachers keep the goals and objectives from their previous task, but have students do something completely different not before possible with the technology in question. Then, they share their completed projects with a wider, authentic audience. This level, he said, is where you see “the greatest impact on student outcomes.”

So, where do you start? At the beginning, of course: Begin at the substitution level, he said, and figure out how to translate ideas to the digital realm, using what you already know about what works with students. Once you’ve got that in place, figure out what aspects of technology could enhance the lesson and then move up the chain itself. “It takes time,” he said. “I think it’s important for people to realize that.”

As has been pointed out before (see: “The problem with the SAMR model“), redefinition — or even modification — is not always the ultimate goal. “Not everything you do needs to be at the redefinition level,” Puentedura said, clarifying that instead educators can use those levels as a target they should aim for to convey an important component to a lesson. “You don’t need to force things… [redefinition] is not a compulsory must-do for everything.”

[photo used courtesy of Dr. Ruben Puentedura]

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