Part One: Going Beyond SAMR… 5 Ideas

Part One: Going Beyond SAMR… 5 Ideas

Every school I visit that is attempting to integrate technology into instruction are also having conversations on SAMR. As I have talks with these schools, I tell them that SAMR is a wonderful place to start. At the same time, if we are to look at technology integration that promotes rigor and deeper thinking we must integrate multiple concepts together. Please enjoy and share my five ideas I think all schools should think about as they go beyond SAMR. I know this entire series including the next post on TPACK as you go beyond SAMR. Before reading, please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS, and also give me a follow… on Twitter at mjgormans. I promise you will find some wonderful information coming your way in the posts that follow…So sign up now and please pass this on with a retweet. Also remember you can book me for a conference or your school district with workshops that are informative, engaging, and practical. Check out my Booking Page and as always… thanks so much! Mike Gorman (

Five Ideas to Go Beyond SAMR… How Deep is the Learning in Your Technology Integration?

As I travel the country l come across numerous schools providing PD and supporting teachers with the SAMR Model. SAMR is a wonderful model to begin with, as teachers learn to integrate technology into their curriculum. For those unfamiliar with SAMR, this is a model that allows teachers to see different stages of technology integration.

SAMR – Quick Definition

S = Substitution: As the word states, this is a substitution of digital technology for past analog methods. (Example – A word processor instead of the typewriter or pen and pencil.)

A = Augmentation: Technology goes beyond mere replacement and focuses on new things that are possible because of the substitution realm. (Example – Technology now allows for the word processor to have a spell check or even a thesaurus.)

M = Modification: Technology allows learning to begin to transform the learning experience. Students can now take a step outside the word processing box and discover possibilities that could not be done before augmenting the learning experience. (Example – Students can now write in a collaborative manner on the same document using Google Docs or Microsoft 360.)

R = Redefinition: Technology allows the learning experience to be redefined so that the word processing document is not the only form of expression…. or perhaps a beginning foundation for a different form of student production. (Example – The word processing document becomes something totally new, as students create videos or web pages relating information that may have been typed.)

SAMR Is One Tool and a Great Place to Start… However,

It is wonderful to see that SAMR is a great place to start. It provides the teacher with some definitions and an understanding of how technology can both facilitate learning while also expanding it. In fact, teaching teachers about the line in between SA and MR allows teachers to see if they are on the road to transformation. This is often referred to as teaching above… or below… the line.

I am certain you are waiting for that “however”… so here it comes. SAMR is one model, and perhaps a first step, in helping teachers understand technology integration and transformational learning. Do not stop with SAMR! Try to understand that a lesson at the top of SAMR may not be the ultimate learning opportunity in technology integration. As you facilitate teachers on a best practices journey it will be important to look at lessons with some other filters, SAMR, after all, is only one. Let’s take a look at some other concepts we must keep in mind as we help educators understand SAMR. Please enjoy the ideas below, and by now you must know that in future posts I will be building upon these important ideas.

Ideas to Consider Beyond SAMR

  1. Don’t spent too much time focusing on which category a lesson is aligned to in SAMR. Just take a quick guess and move on. You will find that too much focus will blur the already moving lines.
  2. Keep in mind that the letter placement in SAMR is a reflection on a lesson… not the teacher. A teacher who is an expert at Redefinition may spend some time in Substitution because they understand good technology integration. Some learning activities only require Substitution and may advance to Redefinition later. In fact, a lesson at Substitution level could provide more transformational and higher order learning than one at Redefinition. It all depends on the content and skills of the lesson as supported by the standards.
  3. Learn to recognize good and bad Substitution. Some teachers when they are beginning a one to one initiative feel an expectation to have students use the device all the time. Sometimes the pre-device ways are better. Why finger paint with an app and miss the experience of having one’s fingers in the paint? Be careful of those Appy Hours! Have a wonderful old fashion Socrative Discussion in class and extend it with technology in a discussion forum for later in order to create a blended learning environment.
  4. Understand that the highest level of SAMR is not always filled with deep learning and rigor. Sometimes it is just transformative technological in action, not representing real transformative learning. Imagine an entertaining and polished green screen presentation summarizing route content, with no higher order thinking. The technology has gone through a Redefinition… but has the learning?
  5. Examine technology integration using multiple learning models. Where is the technology integration for a lesson in relationship to SAMR? Also, where does that same technology integration line up with Bloom’s, Webb’s DOK, and TPACK in the lesson?

Ten great SAMR Resources to Assist in Understanding the Model

  • Dr. Puentedura Blog – Why not read SAMR thoughts from the person who came up with the model. Dr. Puentedura provides important insight, reflections, and ideas.
  • Relating to Blooms – Once again learn from the SAMR creator, Dr. Puentedura, as he provides this blog posted at Graphite showing relationships to SAMR and Blooms.
  • SAMR Model and 21st Century Skills – Explore an article that allows educators to look at the SAMR Model through the 21st century skill lens.
  • SAMR Model Example – Take a look at some great example relating SAMR to specific examples that educators can relate to.
  • K. Ward SAMR Discussions Example – Read about SAMR as related to online discussion examples.
  • SAMR… Teaching Above the Line – Discover a wonderful article that allows teachers to begin thinking of taking the SAMR steps.
  • Introduction to SAMR Model – Once again Common Sense Media provides an amazing video and information on the SAMR Model.
  • SAMR for Administrators – This is not just for administrators, but for all educators. This post at Edutopia provides some practical ideas for looking at SAMR.
  • Padagogy Wheel – What an amazing creation that takes apps and aligns them to apps… a must visit website to investigate and learn more from..
  • SAMR and Coffee – This post points out several blogs and videos that try to draw some analogies between coffee and SAMR… it might be your cup of coffee..


By now you can see where I am going with future posts. Please continue to use SAMR as one way to integrate technology. At the same time realize it is just one model and if we are going to engage the idea of real learning transformation then a few other filters must be part of the plan. Also, take a moment to subscribe and learn even more about going beyond SAMR in the posts that follow.

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Michael Gorman oversees one-to-one laptop programs and digital professional development for Southwest Allen County Schools near Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is a consultant for Discovery Education, ISTE, My Big Campus, and November Learning and is on the National Faculty for The Buck Institute for Education. His awards include district Teacher of the Year, Indiana STEM Educator of the Year and Microsoft’s 365 Global Education Hero. Read more at