Digging into the SAMR Model

For many years, education has relied heavily on Bloom’s Taxonomy as a structure for building foundational knowledge to prove mastery and then moving into higher levels for application. This approach is still very relevant to today’s classroom for school-aged students.

With the integration of technology in the classroom, a new methodology has emerged, which doesn’t eradicate Bloom’s, but complements it quite well. The SAMR (Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition) model, developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, was created to emphasize how technology encourages students to think differently.

The model has four different levels with the levels divided into sections of two.

Section 1: Enhancement

Section one of the SAMR model places a higher emphasis on enhancement through technology. In these two levels, the technology does not incorporate any major changes to student outcomes or performance.

Substitution: Technology acts as a direct tool substitute with no functional change.

In this level, instructors replace a traditional assignment with some use of technology. For instance, you might substitute a written assignment with a typed assignment. Or perhaps you assign an online reading rather than requiring students to read a print version. Substitution is a good starting place for instructors who are new to technology, but it’s also a functional use of technology for seasoned instructors.

Augmentation: Technology acts as a direct tool substitute with functional improvement.

Level two of the SAMR model builds upon substitution and offers some functional change with the incorporation of technology. So for Augmentation, you might still require an essay to be written, but instead of students simply typing it in Microsoft Word, you can have them prepare their essay using collaborative software like a Google Doc. Doing so requires students to think a bit differently when approaching their essays.

Section 2: Transformation

Section two focuses on learning transformation. At this level, technology plays a larger role in student performance and outcomes.

Modification: Technology allows for significant task redesign.

At the Modification level, technology is not only a substitute for a traditional assignment. Instead, technology takes on a larger role. An example of the Modification phase is requiring students to create a blog post and include videos and images to complement the written material. In addition, you might require students to include hyperlinks in their blog posts to link to credible sources. Because the audience of a blog isn’t limited to the teacher, this assignment encourages students to totally rethink their assignment and their approach.

Redefinition: Technology allows for the creation of new tasks that previously were inconceivable.

With Redefinition, writing in the way we think about it is just about thrown completely out the door. The idea is to redefine the assignment with something like a video. In this case, students are still required to write because they would need to have scripts for their videos. Once students complete their videos, have them upload them as video blogs (vlogs) for their peers or the entire world to see.

Technology is changing the function of the classroom, and many instructors across the globe are rethinking the curriculum design. No matter the phase of SAMR model you work in, continue to embrace technology to improve efficiencies in the classroom and heighten student performance.