This blogpost is co-authored by Mais Fatayer and Suman Laudari.

SAMR is a framework with a four-level approach to selecting, using and evaluating technology in learning and teaching. It helps us to describe and categorise technology use, and make informed decisions in practice.

Starting from the top of the image below, the four levels in the SAMR framework are:

  1. Substitution: direct substitution of teaching/learning activities through the use of technology without any functional change.
  2. Augmentation: the tech tool replaces teaching/learning activities with functional changes.
  3. Modification: tech is used to redesign pedagogical activities significantly.
  4. Redefinition: using technology to design teaching/learning activities that were previously inconceivable.

The model takes us from enhancement to transformation and provides a robust, broad framework to tackle issues of integrating technology into current and future learning and teaching practices.

Four blocks showing steps in the SAMR model: Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition
Lefflerd, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

To explore how SAMR works in practice, we can draw examples from almost any area of learning and teaching. The LMS environment (UTSOnline/Canvas) provides a useful set of practical examples; a familiar digital space where learning content is constantly created, re-shaped and redesigned. Here we share four different LMS-related scenarios where technology is integrated into teaching and learning activity, each mapped to a level in the SAMR framework.

1. Substitution: LMS as content repository

A common example of ‘substitution’ is using the LMS as a content repository instead of handing out printed copies or sending emails. There is no functional change; technology has simply substituted the distribution of reading resources or collection of content.

Although the full potential of technology has not been realised in this example, using the LMS as a substitutional tool can be helpful, particularly for those who are still building confidence with technology. Substitution can be considered as a gradual introduction to the use of technology to enhance learning and teaching practice.

How to do this effectively:  In reality, we would rarely simply substitute and shift learning documents into an LMS without considering how they are introduced and structured. Some enhancement must take place in order to guide the students in this online environment when the teacher is not present. You can see some examples of the kind of language, guidance and structure we can use in this resource focussing on how to make your course clear to all students.

2. Augmentation: discussion boards and group work

Using technology for ‘augmentation’ in an LMS could be demonstrated by the use of a discussion board, where students are asked to post questions related to the subject. The functional improvement here (rather than straight substitution) is the use of the discussion board for asynchronous discussion to enhance teaching and learning. Students can be assigned into groups for this activity, where each group uses available functionalities to collaborate. In Blackboard, students can use Blogs, Wikis, Journals, and exchange files. Similarly, in Canvas, group members can work collaboratively in their group area where they can edit group pages and generate content together.

How to do this effectively:  to make group work more manageable, engaging and to ensure more equitable participation, we can encourage students to create roles that rotate among all group members. Roles might include group leader, note-taker, designer, and so on. Assigning students the responsibility to moderate group discussions or to make summaries can help make discussions richer, which is can facilitate learning and the construction of knowledge (Wise & Chiu, 2011). Explore more ideas for facilitating social learning in the LMS with discussion boards, collaborative research, videos and more.

3. Modification: integrating e-portfolios

At this stage, SAMR moves from ‘enhancement’ to ‘transformation’. We engage more fully in exploring the potential of the LMS, making use of features and tools to modify and redesign traditional learning and teaching activities. For example, students are asked to produce evidence of their learning and add this to their e-portfolios. In this case, technology changes the way a student approaches a task, as well as how they construct knowledge within and outside the learning environment. The LMS remains central to these activities, as it allows for a task to be redesigned to benefit from Learning Tools Interoperability (LTi).

How to do this effectively
: the integration of e-portfolios to the LMS can help to trace learning pathways and make the learning experience more efficient. In practical subjects, such as computer science, engineering and design, students can work on real-world projects and produce outputs, which are shared with their clients and mentors. Whilst they help to make assessment more authentic, these portfolios of evidence can also be used for future employment.

4. Redefinition: student co-creation of subjects

In transforming learning at this stage of SAMR, technology allows us to create activities that could not be possible otherwise. Puentedura (2010) claims that at the stage of ‘redefinition’, students take charge of their education and have a certain excitement and ownership of their learning experience. For example, students might work collaboratively to regenerate an entire subject. In this approach, an academic creates groups and assigns each group a project to develop one learning module of the subject. Students can define learning objectives, generate learning videos, record an interview with an industry professional, curate the reading list, and design learning activities using tools like H5P. Interaction and communication between students are extended using multiple platforms such as MS Teams that can facilitate different means of collaboration in generating content.

How to do this effectively: the structure of a subject site is redesigned in order to foster collaboration between students by engaging them in an active learning environment. The roles of the teacher and students are also redefined, where teachers are no longer the sole provider of the learning materials and students passive consumers in the learning and teaching cycle. The responsibilities of the students are extended so they become active contributors to knowledge through collaborative activities learning the content and new skills during the process of completing the project.

Teaching is highly student-centred as they take ownership of the activities and learning outcomes. At this stage of SAMR, the technology is an essential medium and a means to an end, seamlessly integrated to support the aims of the learning and pedagogy.

Integrating SAMR into your practice

With such a broad focus and applications, the SAMR model also integrates well with other frameworks and tools. This short post on the Padagogy Wheel shows how it fits with Bloom’s Taxonomy, for example, and the process of selecting and using educational technologies in practice.

As learning and teaching professionals, it’s our responsibility to consider how different uses of educational technologies can improve teaching practice and learning outcomes. As confidence with the use of the technology grows, the SAMR model provides a framework for thinking and decision-making about improvements which can enhance and eventually transform our learning and teaching practice.


Puentedura, R. (2010). SAMR and TPCK: Intro to advanced practice. Retrieved February 12, 2013.

Brown, P.C., Roediger III, H.L., & McDaniel, M.A. (2014). Make it stick: The science of successful learning. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Wise, A.F., Chiu, M.M. (2011).  Analyzing temporal patterns of knowledge construction in a role-based online discussion. Computer Supported Learning 6, 445–470

Image by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

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