NEWS & TRENDS: When the SAMR Model Isn’t Enough

four kids work on three tablets computers

In the lower steps of this technology model-substitution and augmentation—technology allows for some functional improvement in the task but does not make a fundamental change in the task itself. It is only in the latter two stages—modification and redefinition—where technology is used in a sophisticated manner that either modifies tasks significantly or redefines them to achieve something unimaginable, as in what we haven’t yet been able to imagine with our focus on substitution and augmentation. 

For many educators, using technology to achieve individualized learning experiences where students move at their own pace is the ultimate goal of the SAMR model. However, in extreme cases, this could result in kids in front of computers, in silos with few opportunities to build agency and connection with teachers and classmates, says the article’s author, a National Board Certified Teacher in Chicago. Like other education leaders, he maintains that we haven’t yet really seen how the power of technology can fundamentally change the learning experience. He asserts that schools require a more nuanced pedagogy that incorporates technology in meaningful and transferrable manner. Here are his suggestions to move beyond the “app-tastic,” where apps merely promote the consumption of information. The author’s hope is that these questions can be used to distinguish between technologies that help make learning personal, and those which are a waste of money, time, and energy.

1. Does the technology help to minimize complexity?

2. Does the technology help to maximize the individual power and potential of all the learners in the room?

3. Will the technology help us to do something previously unimaginable?

4. Will the technology preserve or enhance human connection in the classroom?