The SAMR Model

The SAMR framework stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. It was developed by Ruben Puentedura to categorize classroom technologies and can be used to decide which technologies might be right for you in a given situation.

Consider these “degrees” (rather than “levels”). Each has their place. Let’s look at the acronym using a typical classroom lecture as our example. This is, of course, only an overview for you to consider as you decide the best ways to communicate with your students, choose and build course materials, create assessments, and more. To go into any of this in more detail, always feel free to meet with someone in CATL.

  • SSubstitution: The new medium replaces the old medium but does not change the task.
    An example might be going from chalk to dry erase—the lecture remains the same.
  • AAugmentation: The new medium is still a substitute but adds functionality.
    In our example, let’s say you have some magnetic models to put on the board—you can supplement your lecture with these illustrations and save time re-drawing the same figures.
  • MModification: The technology is used to re-design the task.
    For example, students use a classroom response system to steer the lecture—the lecture is taking on a new form; it’s still recognizable as such, but even the material will vary depending on how the students interact.
  • And RRedefinition: Designing and creating a new task altogether.
    If lecture just doesn’t cut it, you might instead build a site your entire class can use to develop an Open Educational Resource.

The SAMR model is a valuable tool to use as you’re considering technologies for your courses. Keep in mind, as you move “up” the model (or down the list above), you will introduce additional cognitive load. It is important to balance additions with scaffolding and by returning to your objectives and reviewing the alignment of your course.