SAMR – Design Learning for Engagement, Part 1


Part 1:  Gears of Transformation, Technology Integration:  SAMR Model Revised

Note:  This is Part 1 in a 3-part series of posts about the SAMR Model.  Future posts will examine the SAMR Model as it relates to digital badge learning design and teacher professional development.

SAMR-Gears of Transformation


The SAMR Model, created by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, Ph.D., offers us a ladder approach for thinking about how technology integration can enhance learning and transform how learning happens today.  As educators, it is up to us to think creatively about how technology tools can engage students in creating, problem solving, innovating, researching and connecting with the wider world.

I prefer to think about the road to transformative learning design as an interconnected proposition, where each cog in the machine moves us closer to lighting up connected learners. 



Substitution:  tech serves as substitute for the “old way”

Augmentation:  tech substitutes “old way” with a functional improvement

Modification:  tech affords marked task redesign

Redefinition:  tech affords new task creation, ways of learning, never before possible


How do we begin to move from enhancement to transformation?

  • Tinker and play with a tool enough to understand its limitations, as well as what it does best.
  •   Rely on your professional learning networks to share ideas and support your experimentation.
  • Strive for global learning and project-based learning opportunities for your students.
  • Accept that you cannot possibly know every tool out there or be THE expert in the room on the tool(s) you plan on using, every single time.
  • Invoke the roles of coach, facilitator and guide.
  • Adopt a growth mindset for your own journey and your students’ journeys.
  • Consider your students as an integral part of the learning community. As contributors, they have wonderful input, knowledge and ideas.  Trust them in the process of trying new approaches and tools.


Learn More About SAMR

The SAMR Explained by Students (3:54) From Rich Colosi Media


SAMR Resources

Weblog from SAMR Model creator, Dr. Ruben Puentedura, Ph.D.

SAMR App Wheel found on Edudemic

Resources to Support the SAMR Model from Kathy Schrock

Edutopia’s Technology SAMR Model for Administrators, Part 1:  Staff Presentations

Edutopia’s Technology SAMR Model for Administrators, Part 2:  Community Interaction


Access Part 2 in this blog series on the SAMR Model.


  1. Cary Harrod says:

    I love this rendition of the model; thinking of each as interconnected and a cog. If we are successful in creating truly tranformative learning experiences, our students will be utilizing technology in a variety of ways and not all will be at the transformative level. It’s okay to have students use Google Docs to brainstorm; I do it all the time…and I can’t tell you how often that doc leads to more transformative artifacts. Nice work!

    • tamritz5773 says:

      Hi, Cary. Thanks so much for sharing your feedback. You said, “If we are successful in creating truly transformative learning experiences, our students will be utilizing technology in a variety of ways and not all will be the transformative level.” I am so glad you emphasized this point — I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes we need to jot down some ideas and other times we are going for a project-based learning assignment that relies on deeper levels of learning, collaboration and creation (just like Bloom’s Taxonomy). I think educators just dipping their toes in worry when they see the SAMR Model — what if I am not at the transformation level? Not to worry — we all aren’t there all the time!

  2. Ariel says:

    Nice post Sarah! Between SAMR and TPACK models, teachers are able to envision the big picture and the steps necessary to attain the highlest level of Bloom’s taxonomy. And, sometimes, being at Substituion or Augmentation is fine as long as it meets the goals.

    • tamritz5773 says:

      Thanks, Ariel. I look forward to reflecting on this more in my future posts on the connection of the SAMR Model to digital badge learning and teacher professional development. Thank you for taking the time to reflect and comment:) It sure is fun to have some feedback on this post!

  3. Liz Ebersole says:

    I can attest that the SAMR model accurately represents my progression through use of educational technology. I have found that the “redefinition” stage demolishes rubrics. Because of this, I have been wondering how students can be involved in creating the rubrics for their projects/work. I have also been closely following Pernille Rip (Twitter, her blog), who has been posting a lot about the uselessness of letter grades. I’ve been feeling this for a long time. If learning is a journey, it doesn’t make sense that the endpoint is a number or a single letter.

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