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Posts Tagged ‘samr

… is not always the greatest form of flattery.

When newer technologies emerge, the most common response seems to be to use them in old ways. Case in point, this tweet:

The tweet bemoaned the simple substitution of one medium (paper) for another (e-paper) while keeping the method the same. There was little value, if any, in recreating paper.

This is one reason why I share the utility of Puentedura’s SAMR even though it is imperfect and not as well discussed as Koehler and Mishra’s TPACK. It provides a framework for educators to evaluate plans prior to implementing educational technology.

Perhaps if more people knew about SAMR we might have fewer poor implementations of educational technology. Then again, perhaps not. It is one thing to overcome ignorance, it is another to battle stubbornness.

Today I tie together an edtech staple, SAMR, and Seth Godin’s recent blog post, Better and Different.

SAMR is a model that has been useful for educators to think about what they are doing when teaching with technology — substituting, augmenting, modifying, or redefining.

The model is not perfect (no model is) and it has its fair share of critics and brickbats. A simple Google search will reveal what they are.

However, this does not mean that SAMR is not important or useful. The model might somewhat arbitrarily define SA as possibly enhancing teaching with technology while MR might push this to transforming teaching.

It might help to step outside the walled garden that is the classroom to see why MR and transformation are critical elements of the SAMR model. Godin made this point plainly:

There’s still plenty of room for digital innovations to impact our world. But they won’t simply be a replacement for what we have now. They only earn widespread engagement when they’re much better than the status quo they replace.

And the only way they can be better is when they’re different.

Or to put the same thing a different way:

Doing things differently does not always mean doing things better. But doing things better always means doing things differently. -- Hank McKinnell (Former CEO of Pfizer)

Recently I got workshop participants to teach one another the concept and components of SAMR. I then concluded the session with some thoughts and examples of my own.

But I forgot this brilliant tweet I archived in Evernote.

The components of SAMR — substitution, augmentation, modification, redefinition — were mapped to the lay language of same-same, not so lame, reframe, and change the game.

SAMR as a framework for technology integration is not step-wise or procedural. There is no requirement to start with substitution and blindly aim for redefinition. The same could be said about Bloom’s Taxonomy (which I why I prefer my revision of the already revised BT).

For example, it is possible to be at death by didactic PowerPoint presentation (S) and to learn how to redefine teaching by getting learners to co-create and teach content (R) by sharing openly editable Google Slides instead. The focus is not the technology alone but also the pedagogy, content, context, and connectedness (TPCK+).

Not every context and content requires a reframing or redefinition, nor is this possible. An expensive or dangerous field trip might be substituted or augmented with a simulation or an annotated Google Map journey, and the learning might still be powerful and meaningful.

SAMR: Easy to understand; even easier to abuse. When you learn something new, do not do the same-same thing as before because that is lame. Reframe your mindset so that you change the game.


Pokémon Go might technically be augmented reality (AR), but that form of AR does not serve any significant purpose.

You can play PoGo with or without your phone’s camera on. If it is on, your “virtual” game play is projected on the “real world”. With the camera off, you play exactly the same game with a fixed game background. Whether the camera is on or off, the point is the same: Catch a Pokémon with a Poké ball.

The “augmented” reality does not provide value or purpose beyond juxtaposing a Pokémon against something or someone in real life. Just because you can do something does not mean you should. What is the point or value?

I would ask the same thing of those that wish to use technology superficially in school.

If I was to use Puentedura’s SAMR framework for technology integration, the PoGo type of “AR” barely scratches the surface of Substitution. What is it replicating or duplicating?

PoGo is not even augmenting as an “AR” app because it does not change or improve game play. Depending on the phone, game play might actually be more stable with the camera off!

Likewise, what is the point of moving from a blackboard to a white board to an “interactive” white board? What is the point if the teaching remains didactic (chalk and talk) or if the teacher can elicit the occasional ooh and ahh? This might entertain learners, but how does it empower them or give them agency?

Just because you can do something does not mean you should. What is the point or value?

Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR model seems to have become a mainstay reference for educational technology coordinators and teachers. It is useful as a means of evaluating technology use or integration efforts. It can also be used to gauge the effectiveness of change management in the area of technology-enabled learning.

SAMR + Hype Cycle - HiRes by tim.klapdor, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  tim.klapdor 

The image above is a modified version of SAMR with Gartner’s technology hype cycle superimposed on the phases. It is generally accepted that the first two phases represent non-transformational teaching while the latter two are transformational.

It is easy to define the phases. But it is better to provide examples. I do so with the example of teachers using PowerPoint or Google Slides.

  • Substitution: From chalk and talk on black or white boards to pixels and presentations
  • Augmentation: Embedding YouTube videos in presentations for richer illustration and activating visual centres
  • Modification: Embedding a learner response system in slides for feedback or allowing public comments on slide content
  • Redefinition: In the case of Google Slides, immediate sharing via URL and co- or learner-centred authoring of content

I like how the superimposed hype cycle indicates the visibility vs the worth of the effort. The non-transformational efforts are very visible and valued by most teachers. They are low-hanging fruit and relatively easy to do. But they do not really change practice. The teacher is still the central and only user of the technology. The teaching is didactic and delivery-oriented.

The transformational efforts are less obvious but more difficult because learners must get involved. The processes are messier and meaning must be negotiated. The learner is central, the user of technology, and the content creator. Only enlightened educators who implement for the long term and process rigorous educational research realize why this is more important.

Therein lies the value of SAMR for change management. It can reveal the underlying philosophy or mindset of teachers. That is what change agents and managers need to address. Not standalone technology training but pedagogical shifts and creating ownership of the change process.



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