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What is the SAMR Model and how can it enhance student engagement?

What is the SAMR Model? Explore how it helps educators and students integrate technology to deepen learning.
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When your school adopts a new edtech tool, educators may be excited or apprehensive. There are educators who are power users of technology and can run with a new tool. Yet there are those who prefer traditional classroom activities and aren’t ready to completely transform learning with a new tool on day one. That’s why it’s important to integrate technology into the classroom the right way. The SAMR Model is one way to make sure that educators are able to use a new edtech tool without feeling overwhelmed. What is the SAMR Model then? Read on for a full rundown of how it can help educators use technology to enhance student engagement.

Who created the SAMR Model?

The SAMR Model was designed by education researcher Dr. Ruben Puentedura in 2010. He created it to guide educators in using and evaluating technology. He explained that his research at Harvard as a graduate student in the 1980s led to the SAMR Model. He was looking at ways to rethink the undergraduate science curriculum and how they could use a tool such as digital storytelling to enhance learning. As he created SAMR, he realized that most educators need to start with simple applications of an edtech tool to enhance what they already do in the classroom. Then over time, they can transition to using it in more innovative ways. 

What are models like SAMR used for?

SAMR and other technology integration models such as TPACK help educators think about technology in more meaningful ways. The ultimate goal of these models is for edtech tools to deepen learning. SAMR helps educators transition from simply using technology in the classroom to transforming learning.

What are the four steps of SAMR, and how do educators use them in the classroom?

There are four SAMR steps that help educators integrate technology into teaching and learning. Educators can start at the step that makes the most sense for them so they don’t feel overwhelmed when trying new tools.


Educators start by substituting a traditional activity with technology. 

Examples: Learners write the first draft of a narrative on paper traditionally. Their teacher would use a different-colored pen to give feedback and note grammar errors. 

With the substitution step of SAMR, learners could write their narratives in a Google Doc. Their teacher could then give feedback with the commenting feature in Google Docs and could see the learner’s process by clicking on the version history. 

Another way educators could incorporate technology at the substitution level is by asking learners to use Google Drawings in science rather than drawing a diagram on paper.


In the next step, technology should augment the learning process.

Examples: Instead of just typing their narrative in a Google Doc, learners could add multimedia. This could be their own photographs or Creative Commons images they find online. They could even record an audio clip reading a part of the narrative or include copyright-free music to enhance the mood of a particular scene.  

Learners could also add multimedia to their science diagram by incorporating links to explanations they’ve written or audio clips they created to explain parts of the diagram. 


In the third step, technology starts to transform learning rather than just enhance it. In this case, it modifies learning experiences so that they are interactive and more dynamic. 

Examples: Students could create a video depicting their narrative. They could film it and edit it, while adding graphics or music. Or they could create an animation and add voice-over, graphics and sound effects. In this example, learners are not just adding one type of multimedia but several components to transform their learning. 

In science, students could create geological diagrams about different landforms around the world. They could bring these diagrams into a shared online space and learn from each other.  


In the final step, technology redefines how students showcase their learning in a way that was not thought of before. It creates a unique learning experience that would not be there without the technology. It allows students to explore and take ownership of their learning.

Example: Traditionally, learners would write a narrative because it’s an English language arts standard, and they would turn it in on paper. In the redefinition step of SAMR, technology makes the learning purpose more meaningful. 

In this example, learners could write a narrative for a digital storytelling initiative that helps solve a global problem and collaborate with learners in another part of the world. 

For science, educators could give learners a problem to solve, and learners could come up with their own project using technology.

How can learners use the SAMR Model in the classroom?

It’s not only educators who can use the SAMR Model to integrate technology. Learners, too, can follow the SAMR Model and begin at the step that’s comfortable for them. For example, educators can offer learners choices about the types of technology they want to use or how they want to use technology. 

Why is the SAMR framework important?

While there are four SAMR steps, educators in your school don’t need to jump straight to the final aspirational step. When first adopting technology, educators should ask themselves which part of the SAMR Model makes sense for them. For some, it may take a full school year (or even longer) to feel comfortable moving to the next step, and that’s OK. If educators take their technology integration step by step, they’ll have a better understanding of how to use it to more effectively engage learners.

SAMR is also connected to Bloom’s Taxonomy. The first two steps, Substitution and Augmentation relate to the Remember, Understand and Apply sections of Bloom’s. 

The third and fourth SAMR steps, Modification and Redefinition, cover the Analyze, Evaluate and Create parts of Bloom’s Taxonomy. As educators move through the SAMR steps, their students will transition from lower-order thinking skills to higher-order thinking skills.

How does Hāpara fit into the SAMR Model?

When schools adopt Hāpara, educators can start at the SAMR step that is most comfortable. It’s also easy to give learners chances to follow the SAMR steps themselves. 

Hāpara Workspace

Hāpara Workspace is a tool that brings together all of a lesson, project or unit’s learning resources and activities into one spot. It not only organizes instruction and learning, but educators can also add differentiated resources and assessments for groups of learners. 

To start, educators can use the “Discover” feature to find Workspaces that other educators have already created. When they find one that aligns with their curriculum, they can simply make a copy and add learners to the Workspace.

If educators want to create their own Workspace, they can begin by uploading resources, such as article or video links, and Google Docs where learners can type responses to questions.

As educators become more comfortable using Workspace, they can edit or create their own Workspace with activities where students are asked to include multimedia to enhance their learning. 

Over time, educators can incorporate Workspace projects that modify or redefine learning. Students can even upload their own resources and projects directly into a Workspace. It’s also simple to include student choice. For example, educators can ask learners to choose technology that aligns with the SAMR step learners are most capable of exploring. 

Hāpara Highlights

Hāpara Highlights is a Chrome browser monitoring tool that gives educators visibility into what learners are doing online. Some educators feel most comfortable starting by closing tabs. But this tool allows them to move through the SAMR Model into guiding learners and transforming them into positive digital citizens.

Key takeaways

✔️ The SAMR Model helps schools and educators integrate technology so that students are engaged and have meaningful learning experiences.

✔️ Following the SAMR Model should be personalized for each educator. The goal is for them to start where they feel most comfortable and move on to the next step when they’re ready.

✔️ Learners can also follow the SAMR model by choosing technology themselves that aligns with one of the steps.

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