SAMR is a model designed to help educators infuse technology into teaching and learning. Popularized by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, the model supports and enables teachers to design, develop, and infuse digital learning experiences that utilize technology. The goal is to transform learning experiences so they result in higher levels of achievement for students. Teachers need to both create tasks that target the higher-order cognitive skills (Bloom's) as well as design tasks that have a significant impact on student outcomes (SAMR).
The SAMR model is made up of four steps—Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. Substitution and Augmentation are considered "Enhancement" steps, while Modification and Redefinition are termed "Transformation" steps.
Think of the difference between seasoning an old family recipe (Enhancement) and creating an entirely new, original dish (Transformation). Susan Oxnevad referred to this movement across the spectrum as "teaching above the line."
At this stage, technology is directly substituted for a more traditional one. It is a simple, bare-bones, direct replacement. For example, if you are teaching a government lesson on the Constitution, you might use an electronic or web-based version of the document instead of a hard copy. Students might also answer questions about the Constitution using a Microsoft Word instead of filling out a worksheet.
Substitution might also include a student using Keynote, PowerPoint, Prezi, Slides, or a similar program to present information about an article or amendment to the class.
In this step, you ask yourself what we stand to gain by replacing traditional tools with technology. Invariably, some situations will be better served with pen and paper.
The technology is again directly substituted for a traditional one, but with significant enhancements to the student experience. In other words, you ask yourself if the technology increases or augments a student's productivity and potential in some way.
Returning to the Constitution example, a student might augment a presentation on, say, the 14th Amendment with a video clip of how equal protection under the law was enforced during school desegregation. It could also include interactive links to relevant supreme court decisions, such as Plessy v. Ferguson or Brown v. Topeka Board of Education.
In this stage, you are beginning to move from enhancement to transformation on the model. Instead of replacement or enhancement, this is an actual change to the design of the lesson and its learning outcome. The key question here—does the technology significantly alter the task?
A student presenting research on the 14th Amendment, to continue our example, might create his or her own unique graphic organizer for the class that not only includes the usual multimedia resources but represents a new product or synthesis of existing material. As another example, a group of students might collaborate in a cloud-based workspace to propose a modern definition of equal protection under the law and solicit feedback on their proposals from classmates.
The last stage of the SAMR model is Redefinition and represents the pinnacle of how technology can transform a student’s experience. In this case, you ask yourself if the technology tools allow educators to redefine a traditional task in a way that would not be possible without the tech, creating a novel experience.
For example, after completing their group work and soliciting feedback from classmates (both tasks that could be completed "offline" although arguably not with the same experience as in the modified format), students could utilize technology to network with students several states away to see how regional differences impact how others think about the Constitution.
Taking it a step further, students could even interact in real time with citizens in another country to examine key differences in constitutional philosophy and law. This can bridge the gap between K-12 and higher education as it did in this digital citizenship project.