Beyond the Shine, Part 5: Supporting Technology with the SAMR Model Plus Ten Great Resource Sites

Beyond the Shine, Part 5: Supporting Technology with the SAMR Model Plus Ten Great Resource Sites

Welcome to a series of posts that are dedicated to going beyond the shine of technology by examining ways to use digital tools to engage students in real learning. In this fifth post you will discover how careful examination of the verbs in a standard can help you find resources to assist in proper technology integration.

In this post I wish to go beyond the idea of finding the tech in the standards. Instead in this post it will be important to see how the technology is being integrated in a classroom. Not only should the technology support the standards, but proper integration of technology will ensure productive and effective technology use and integration in the 21st Century Classroom.. For this reason it is important to take a look at technology under the lens of the SAMR Model. You will find that looking at this model will provide avenues of going beyond the technology shine.

Introduction to SAMR
Transforming technology into a blended learning experience has become a necessity for those educators wanting to engage student centered learning in the 21st century classroom. While it is possible to create a successful and highly interactive student based learning experience without technology, it is technology that can amplify the learning experience. It must be remembered that amplification will have an effect on great educational pedagogy, but will also do the same for instruction that may not meet the goal. As teachers invite technology into the classroom it has become evident that as learners themselves, they go through formative steps as they become proficient in the blended experience.

Through the work of Dr. Ruben Puentedura, Ph. D. the SAMR Model (Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition) provides a wonderful lens to look at this progression. It must be understood that the goal is to create lessons that allow for the ability to facilitate learning opportunities that practice Redefinition. At the same time, it must be remembered that all of the stages allow for technology interaction and increased student engagement. This is sometimes not emphasized as teachers sometimes feel they must attempt to put all their lessons at the top tier of SAMR. There are times where simple Substitution is all that is needed and is most appropriate given the learning target. As educators become familiar with the SAMR Model it allows them to reflect and evaluate their technology integration practice while striving for powerful learning opportunities for their students. Keep in mind that learning activities can get blurred between the steps of SAMR. It must be remembered that educators are working on not only a progression, but also a best fit. The first two steps involve technology as an enhancement tool and the last two involve technology as a transformation tool. Many times the steps between enhancement and transformation can take a bit of time as educators practice, reflect, and learn. In the space below you will find those important SAMR Steps.

Substitution – “Tech acts as a direct tool substitute, with no functional change”
SAMR defines substitution as a beginning level of technology integration. At this stage technology replaces an activity that may have been done before using a possible analog or pre-analog resource. This is the very first stage of enhancing a lesson using technology. A common example might include a student word processing a story rather than hand writing it. While it is a lower level form of integration, it still might be a wonderful use of the technology. Another example might be the teacher curating the curriculum for students using their LMS (Learning Management System). The teacher has worked hard at finding articles, reading lists, research links, and even You Tube videos on a various topics. In essence, the web is being used as a substitution for what may have been a prior resource list given to students. Once again, it is a wonderful start with some great learning opportunities, but it still is a substitution. According to Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura, the teacher is just using the technology to replace a resource list that could be used in the library. Keep in mind that this can be still very useful. Some questions in regards to going beyond Technology Shine may include:

  • Does the substitution of technology serve the learning target and the standards these targets reflect, or might it actually get in the way.
  • Did the technology substitution assist in student engagement and productivity allowing more time to be involved in curricular expectations?
  • What might have been gained in regards to student learning because of the substitution?
  • In regards to a balance between learning and time spent on standard, what statements can be made?

Augmentation – “Tech acts as a direct substitute tool, with functional improvement”
The next step moves one step up the ladder from Substitution. It is important to remember that this step is still at the enhancement level. At this stage the technology has improved student learning by adding meaningful functionality that would have not been as possible without the technology integration. A common example includes how a word processing document provides students different tools (word count, thesaurus, and grammar checks). Perhaps students are using calculators or spreadsheets to solve a problem. It could be that students are researching, and the teacher directs students to current news events, blogs, or interpretations of the research by various authors. Students have the opportunity to compare and contrast viewpoints, view up-to-date information that may not be in the physical school library. They may even have the opportunity to participate in the comment section of a blog. While the line can be blurred between Substitution and Augmentation there appears to be a technology integration that allows for deeper learning. This can even lead to an increase in student engagement, rigor, and quality of work. A teacher must reflect and recognize that the technology has added to the learning experience. They must determine if the overall learning has been improved because of the technology integration. Some questions in regards to going beyond Technology Shine may include:

  • Is the technology adding to the learning experience and curricular expectations?
  • Has overall learning has been improved because of the technology integration?
  • Are student more engaged and producing higher quality work that promotes the standards?
  • How might this use be a step above substitution and does in enhance the learning of the standard?

Modification – “Tech allows for significant task redesign”
At this stage the technology has the opportunity to change the look and feel of what students perform. There really is a definite change in the lesson that may have started with an analog foundation. Transformation has begun! This step demands more reflection and work from the facilitating teacher. At the same time, Modification brings in the student opportunity to proceed up Bloom’s Taxonomy. A common example may include students authoring a group story in a Google Doc so that peer editing and collaboration can happen anytime and anyplace. Perhaps some images are added to the student writing in order to further engage the intended audience. A teacher may ask students to use advanced searching skills in order to find articles that contrast viewpoints from different counties. Taking this concept further, students compile their research collectively using a group inside of a bookmarking tool such as Diigo. A word cloud might be employed to study the meaning of an article or author’s writing. While students use traditional literary critique, a word cloud might provide a new analysis, such as a visual look at word frequency in a reading. Students might use a Google Form to collect and analyze data. In this method of data collection students may be able to survey larger, more diverse, and authentic populations. They may also employ a layer of tools in a spreadsheet to represent the data to an audience. Many times modification allows more student voice and the outcome may not be as prescribed. Some questions in regards to going beyond Technology Shine may include:

  • Does the technology allow for some project redesign that enhances the project while still accomplishing the learning objectives?
  • Could this, along with any other modifications, allow a lesson to advance to the next level?.
  • Is time spent using modification keeping the same timeline or less allowing for increased productivity?
  • Has this technological opportunity increased student voice and choice in the activity?

Redefinition – Tech allows for creation of new tasks that were previously inconceivable
At this stage the technology allows students to jump outside the original design box. This is much more than a redesign. It focuses on the employment of new tasks and learning opportunities.. While the teacher may initiate some of these, student voice and choice must also be employed. A story could change into a picture book, a slide show, or even a movie. The audience could go beyond the school and include the community, state, county, or world. Mentors could be in the virtual online world. Perhaps students are curating and creating their own content to be used by other students. Imagine research that allows for students to create their own search engine using Google Custom Search. The original standards remain with addition of new skills that circle around 21st century skills. The redesign is made possible because of the blending of the technology into the learning process eliminating the constraints and barriers of the physical classroom. At the same time, the technology might appear transparent to the learning process. Students become producers, creators, and innovators. They begin to own their own learning process. Some questions in regards to going beyond Technology Shine may include:

  • While proving additional possibilities, does the redefinition still serve the original standards and purpose?
  • What possibilities exist to increase the student ownership of learning?
  • Is it possible to assess skills the processing and 21st century skills brought about by redefinition?
  • What evidence can be provided to show that the technology is going beyond enhancement and providing a true transformation?

All educators must realize that a final goal of any classroom is redefinition. At the same time, there will be times when even the most proficient educators with technology conduct a task at the substitution level. Some educators like to compare this idea to not stepping up a ladder, but instead spending time in a swimming pool. When might one want to go to the deep end and at what point might a return to the shallow end be valuable and productive. It really comes down to the tool fitting the task and learning target. An understanding of the SAMR Model allows educators to reflect on their own progress while investigating ways to use educational technology in a useful and productive way. The SAMR Model allows all educators to view the steps they are taking down the road of technology enhancement toward true transformation. It is a wonderful and exciting journey of going beyong the technology shine.

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..

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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