The technology available to support online and blended learning is robust and versatile, and has the capability of providing an engaging learning experience for you and your students. Always remember, in order to successfully implement any technology tool or approach, you need to focus on what you want your students to be doing, and how you are going to measure their progress and success.

The SAMR model

Useful links

Ruben R. Puentedura's Weblog offers reflections on education and...

Dr. Ruben Puentedura has developed the SAMR (substitution/augmentation/modification/ redefinition) model to support the design, development, and integration of learning technology tools in support of student learning. This model describes four levels of technology integration and the path that students follow as they progress through technology enhanced learning experiences. This model can help lay a foundation for you to explore and reflect on the technology tools and approaches you would like to integrate into your online or blended teaching.

The SAMR model describes four levels of technology integration that move from simple through to more complex, focusing on the opportunities that technology tools and approaches provide to enhance the learning experience.

In the following activity, click on each of the four levels of the SAMR model (starting with 'Substitution') for a description of each stage. Click the 'Example' button for an example demonstrating how that stage of the model might apply in practice for a particular technology tool.

The following paragraphs will explain more about the SAMR model, with the help of an example technology tool.

Video interview

Watch the following video in which practitioners consider how we can...

In the following interview, practitioners consider how we can augment online...

An image showing the four levels of the SAMR model.


Level 1 of 4: Substitution

Technology tool acts as a direct tool substitute, with no functional change.

Example:

Word processing application used to write papers. Computer or mobile device used to read books and papers.


Level 2 of 4: Augmentation

Technology tool acts as a direct tool substitute, with considerable improvement.

Example:

Review and comment features are used within the word processing and document reading applications.

In levels 1 and 2 of the SAMR model, the technology tool or approach is classed as enhancing the learning experience.


Level 3 of 4: Modification

Technology tool allows for significant task redesign.

Example:

Social media enables a collaborative writing activity with peer review and commenting.


Level 4 of 4: Redefinition

Technology tool allows for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable.

Example:

Multimedia/multimodal components integrated into projects with collaborative components available for new content creation and dissemination.

In levels 3 and 4 of the SAMR model, the technology tool or approach is classed as transforming the learning experience.

Source: Adapted from Ruben Puentedura www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog [website]. Used with permission.

The 'Useful links' pod to the right contains links to audio and video tutorials giving further information about the SAMR model and examples of the model in action.

The 'Useful links' pod at the end of the section contains links to tutorials giving further information about the SAMR model and examples of the model in action.

Transforming the learning experience

Technology evolution icon

For each of the SAMR levels it is important to note the impact on student learning outcomes, and the changes that may take place as a result of integrating a technology tool. Think about the tools and approaches that you are using now, and whether they serve as substitutes for preexisting options, or if they actually transform the learning experience.

Useful links

An excellent overview of Transformation, Technology, and...

New and novel is not always best, but having an open mind to available options will better enable you to explore new technology tools and approaches as they come into practice in the online teaching arena. Consider reviewing the SAMR model on a regular basis to inform your approach to technology integration into your online teaching and learning. As you begin to explore new technologies, think about how you may be influencing student learning and how you are helping your students to accomplish goals and objectives through substitution, augmentation, modification, or redefinition.


Useful links

Interview

In the following interview, practitioners consider how we can augment online student learning with technology.

What approaches can we take to augment online student learning with technology?

Dr. Eric S. Ackerman
Dean, Graduate School of Computer and Information Services, Nova Southeastern University

Well, technology is constantly expanding, and there are always new ways of displaying information that we maybe never thought about years before. So, the whole thing with data visualisation today. Being able to visualise numerical data in ways that were never done before, is a great example of taking that type of technology, incorporating it into some courses where, instead of just trying to analyse something that would have been more dull or hard to see, once it becomes visualised it becomes a phenomenal resource for students and faculty to use.

So, as new tools are constantly developed you have to think about, how can I incorporate those new little pieces of the tools. And they may not be the whole tool, maybe little pieces of the tool, or new ways of showing information that maybe was never possible before, primarily because those tools didn't exist, the coding languages didn't exist, the bandwidth didn't exist. As these different things evolve, we have to look at what is happening out in the marketplace and then how, as educators, we can take some of those pieces and incorporate those into the courses that we teach.

Dr. Leigh Graves Wolf
Assistant Professor and Program Director, MA in Educational Technology, Michigan State University

Some ways that we can augment student learning with technology is to think about the technologies that our students are using on a day-to-day basis. One example would be text messaging. There's a tool called Remind101 that allows instructors to send quick SMS messages to students to give them reminders about assignments being due or encouragement, essentially just brief text messages. I think tools like that create a really nice sense of engagement and support for students because you're meeting them where they are, with the tools that they're using, and as an instructor you're showing that you're engaged and very supportive of their learning process.

Another tool that you could use could be something like a screencast, where you're delivering material, say in a lecture, online that you've typed out, that's text that students are reading. Supplementing that same material with a screencast where you're delving deeper into the ideas or reiterating those ideas in a different way is going towards differentiating instruction and meeting different students where they're at. So you're giving the information in multiple different formats and contexts, and I think technology really helps support that type of learning because students have many different ways to get the information and choose, in a sense, which one sits best with them. And technology supports those sorts of endeavours.

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