Exploring the SAMR Model

The SAMR Model helps us understand what we are seeing when we witness technology use in a K-12 classroom. It is divided into 4 levels or stages with substitution at the bottom (least desirable) and redefinition (most desirable) at the top.

You can divide the levels into two categories, including Enhancement and Transformation.
  • Enhancement Levels:
Level 1 - Substitution: Using technology to do the same thing you did without it.
Level 2 - Augmentation: Same thing but with technology with minor improvements. 
  • Transformation Levels:
Level 3 - Modification: Technology allows new product(s) to be created, as well as improves efficiency.
Level 4 - Redefinition: Remix and design work in ways not possible to complete without technology.

How You Can Use SAMR
Use the SAMR model to identify various stages the activity has fit into over time. For example, consider the following excerpt from this post on the CyberCafe Blog:

The SAMR model suggests that, at the most basic level of technology integration, we simply "substitute" technology for another tool with no significant change in it purpose. The easiest example of this is the use of word processor to generate a document rather than hand writing it. (Now I don't advocate that we should ever go back to hand writing our documents. This substitution is practical and necessary. But, we shouldn't call that "true technology integration.")

As we work our way up the model, we move to Augmentation, where the technology tool contains some functional improvement. Using a Kindle to read may appear to be simple substitution, but using it with a student with limited vocabulary and having the student use the built-in dictionary to enhance vocabulary increases the technology's effect.

When we start to use the technology to do things we otherwise wouldn't be able to do, then we begin to see technology transform the learning that is taking place. Having student collaborate virtually using GoogleDocs truly modifies the task. Using those collaborative pieces to create a website with embedded video and live chats is an example of completely redefining the work.

 More cross-content examples of SAMR appear here.