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Applying the SAMR model in the ELT Classroom

This text has been adapted from the chapter on conceptual models in my ebook – Digital Tools for Teachers – Trainers’ Edtition. It’s one of a number of models presented in the chapter that can be used to underpin a sound application of technology within education.

SAMR (Substitution – Augmentation – Modification – Redefinition) was introduced by Dr Ruben Puentedura in 2006. SAMR is a paradigm for understanding how we can integrate technology into education, though with the proviso that if we want to use technology in a way that is truly transformative we should be aiming to develop tasks and activities that are more towards what it describes as the ‘modification’ and ‘redefinition’ parts of the model.

SAMR Model
The SAMR Model

Understanding the paradigm can help us to analyse the way we are using technology and to think about how we can evolve the way we use it, from the more superficial ‘substitution’ type tasks to ones that redefine the way students interact with content, each other and the teacher.

Here are the four ways it classifies the application of technology along with an example of how a task could be developed through the understanding and application of this process.

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Substitution
 – Technology acts as direct substitute with no functional change. The task remains the same but a computer is used as part of that task.

E.g. Find a text online to use in place of one of the texts in your course book. Ask your students to read it and answer comprehension questions.

Augmentation – 
Technology acts as a direct tool substitute for an analogue activity, but with functional improvements.

E.g. Find a text online to use in place of one of the texts in your course book. Ask students to use some digital tools to mark up the text with notes, highlight specific areas to remember and use an online dictionary to check new vocabulary.

Modification
 – Technology allows for significant task redesign.

E.g. Find a text online to use in place of one of the texts in your course book. Ask students to use some digital tools to mark up the text with notes, highlight specific areas to remember and use an online dictionary to check new vocabulary. Then ask students to share their reflections about the text on a blog which is shared within a wider educational community. They then comment on each others’ posts. They later meet together in a virtual live forum to discuss and debate the content.

Redefinition
 – Technology allows for the creation of new tasks previously not possible.

E.g. Find a text online to use in place of one of the texts in your course book. Ask students to use some digital tools to mark up the text with notes, highlight specific areas to remember and use an online dictionary to check new vocabulary. Students then work collaboratively to research the background to the text online and create a digital survey about it. They share the survey through social media. They then collect and analyse the data from the survey and work together online to create an infographic or video report of their analysis of their survey responses.

Approaching technology with this kind of awareness can certainly have its benefits and SAMR has definitely attracted quite a following.

Digital Tools for Teachers – Teacher Trainers’ Edition

You can use this presentation from Digital Tools for Teachers – Trainers’ Edition to train other teachers and encourage them to reflect on their use of technology.