Integrating Technology in the Classroom using the SAMR Model
Every week, there are new apps and platforms that serve a multitude of purposes in the world of education. These could be websites with lessons, tools that allow teachers to create new lessons, platforms for case management, or any other of a wide range of services that are designed to help educational administrators, teachers, and students. These tools can be a great way to foster digital learning and build meaningful skills for 21st century learners, but it is important to consider whether teachers and classrooms are equipped to implement them in a meaningful way.
The SAMR model is a framework designed to help educators get a crystal clear idea of what their goals are for implementing technology, as well as the specific outcomes the technology can provide. SAMR is an acronym for the following terms: Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. We’ll get into what each term means a little bit later on, but it is also important to understand that they are broken into two categories. Substitution and Augmentation are both considered “enhancement”, whereas Modification and Redefinition are “transformation”. Let’s dive in a little bit deeper into what each piece of the model actually means.
The first and easiest piece is substitution. This is the most basic form of technology integration in the SAMR model, and consists of merely replacing a traditional lesson item with a technological equivalent. An example of substitution would be using a powerpoint presentation to deliver content, rather than reading straight out of a textbook. While substitution is the most basic form of technology integration, that does necessarily mean that it is not a valuable and meaningful way to bring technology into the classroom, and based on the differentiated needs of your classroom, substitution can be a great way to involve technology in your students’ day to day activities.
The next form of technology integration is Augmentation, which is very similar to substitution except that it provides a clear enhancement to the student in the activity. While substitution is a direct equivalent (text book page vs. webpage) augmenting lessons with technology means that the technology actually allows greater learning to occur than would happen with the traditional classroom resource.
Both of these are considered to be “enhancements” because they still convey the material in the same way, but can often bring benefits with them that expand the learning taking place for the students. They allow the students to take in the material in the same way, but with increased success or in a way that is easier to implement. Now we’re going to find out a little bit more about the ‘transformation’ pieces.
Modification is taking a traditional learning task and significantly changing it with technology. An example of this would be replacing a ‘foldable’ about the solar system with a multimedia presentation. While the learning task is similar, the end product and the learning task have both changed slightly as a result of technology being implemented.
Then, finally, there is redefinition. Redefinition is taking a traditional learning task and completely transforming it in a way that would be impossible without technology. For example, rather than reading about a person from another country, a teacher might set up a video call for students with someone from overseas. By using technology to transform the learning task, the teacher is integrating technology in his or her classroom at the highest possible level.
These two pieces of the framework are rightfully called “transformative” because they change the way the lesson runs, and the way the students interact with the content. While these are high level ways to integrate technology into the classroom, they are by no means any more or less important than the “enhancements” of substitution and augmentation. It is important to objectively decide where in the SAMR model your technology makes the most sense for the outcomes of your learners.