The SAMR Model to Enhance Technology Integration

July 10, 2013 | Posted in: personal reflection

My summer of eLearning is moving right along, and this week we’ve been talking about authentic assessment and feedback. We know how important quality feedback is for students in order to push them to their furthest potential in the classroom, but this is true in an online environment, too. Walking hand-in-hand with this is authentic assessment. Online assessment must include more demonstrations of higher-level thinking to be truly authentic and meaningful. Online educators don’t have the luxury of being in-person with students when they complete assessments, so multiple-choice assessments you may still see in the physical classroom won’t work; are you assessing them on what they’ve learned, or if they’ve learned how to Google their answers? (Side note: authentic assessment and higher-level thinking should also be the goal in the physical classroom, too!)

I think this brings me to the topics that have hit the closest to home for me this summer. I really think the introduction of the SAMR model is going to be most beneficial for me to start with. We have a lot of teachers who are trying technology in the classroom, and/or who are eager to get started this next year now that we’ve introduced BYOD, but I think too many are under the impression that this simply means using technology for technology’s sake or substituting paper worksheets for worksheets that can be filled out on a handheld device. We need to move away from the substitution level and progress up the SAMR model ladder to the redefinition level, and I think the SAMR model has given me the framework I can work from to help teachers not only see this progressive ladder, but also start to climb it.

Have you seen this pedagogy wheel by Allan Carrington? It’s been updated recently to include the SAMR model around the outer band of the wheel, which is so awesome and helpful! Read more about the update that helps you integrate technology at Edudemic here.

I think as teachers begin to climb the SAMR model ladder towards more transformational integration of technology, they’ll find it’s a natural progression into more authentic forms of assessment AND make technology integration in their classroom more engaging for students. Right now, I think teachers feel like just having devices in the classroom and using them to do substitution level tasks is motivation enough and is engaging for students. And at the start, sure! Kids will be excited just because they’re allowed to use their devices. But it’s not enough. The use of technology in this way just isn’t meaningful, and “using technology” in classrooms like that will get stale quickly, which will lead to frustration for both teachers and students. It’s going to be hard to convince teachers to let go and let students have freedom of choice… but if they use the SAMR model as a framework to build on, they’ll get there. Authentic assessment and true student engagement will naturally follow suit.

I feel like I may be rambling a bit, but I think what I’ve just realized is that the SAMR model is going to be the backbone of how I approach working with teachers this school year. It will help teachers who have been reluctant to take their first steps have a solid starting point, and those who are ready to transition further up the ladder will see how to take their integration to the next level. The hard parts, that is, effective (and ongoing!) student engagement and authentic assessment, will naturally fall in place as the teacher works their way up to using technology in a meaningful, redefined and transformational way, because at the redefinition level students have choice, which is motivating and engaging, and their choices will make way for teachers to authentically assess them.

I’m looking forward to putting some of the things I’ve learned this summer into practice with staff in the fall. I can’t wait to help teachers learn how to use technology in a meaningful way that will help produce students who are equipped with the skills they’ll need to tackle the 21st century workplace.

One response to “The SAMR Model to Enhance Technology Integration”

  1. Ryan Wagner says:


    The SAMR model has also been an eye-opener for me as well. Here I thought all along that I was making a difference by having students look up info on web sites rather than read it in a textbook, but along comes the SAMR model which reminds me that I really haven’t used technology in the way I should be. This has helped me see things from a different perspective as I plan lessons with technology. I find myself questioning whether I’m just substituting technology for something no-tech, or if I’m creating something that is redefining how I teach the lesson.

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