Have you been asking yourself what technologies you could- or should- use to deliver your online courses? Maybe you’re looking for some guidance as to what to use and when. Online teaching challenges us to try a lot of new things, but we don’t have to imagine what functions well and when on our own. Instead, we can refer to the technology and learning pedagogy models which are out there to assist us in making informed decisions about technology in our lessons.

Puentedura’s SAMR model is used to describe the integration of technology into learning pedagogy. This model is sometimes viewed as a staircase, as depicted here, but the levels are not necessarily sequential. Each can be chosen independently to suit a lesson (H.L., 2017). The SAMR model aims to capture how technology can be used in teaching and learning practices.

In this article, I will discuss the first two steps in the SAMR model and how they can be applied in your teaching.

How to Use SAMR

The SAMR model has four steps: Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. Substitution and Augmentation fall into the ‘Enhancement’ category, while Modification and Redefinition are in the ‘Transformation’ category. The steps in SAMR are divided into two categories, and an easy way to think of the difference between the categories is to consider ‘Enhancement’ like seasoning a recipe with your own flavour vs. ‘Transformation’ as creating something entirely new (H.L., 2017).

Again, it is important to note that there is no order to how or when to use each step or category, but only that you select the most appropriate level for your given material and its delivery.


In this step, technology directly substitutes a more traditional method. At this stage, not all of your current methodologies should be changed or replaced by technology, and so it is important to consider what we may gain by replacing traditional tools with a tech tool (H.L., 2017). One example may be in a language classroom where students are tasked with reading the news and then making a small opinion piece about the article. With substitution, the instructor would provide an online newspaper rather than paper copies. This change would be useful if there is something about using the online version that may enhance what the students take away from the exercise and if  this change enhances our teaching practices.

Online teaching and learning have provided us all with the opportunity to try new versions of in-class activities and substitute previous methods with technology. One such tool may be H5P. H5P is a way to create and share interactive content with your students. One of the tools in H5P which you may consider using under the step of Substitution is the Image Hotspot. In this case, rather than students reading the textbook and reading all the little info bubbles, they can click spots on your image and receive that information as pop-ups, like in the image here:

The use of this tool may easily substitute paper copies of a similar nature and it may enhance the ease of use for students and act as a memory aid as the info bubbles are place directly in the landscape.


In this step, technology directly substitutes a more traditional method again, but with significant consideration for the student experience. Falling into the ‘Enhancement’ category, we ask ourselves if the change will augment student productivity and potential in some way (H.L., 2017).

Using portfolios, whether in LINC programming (PBLA) or online tools like Mahara, falls into the Augmentation tier. If you are unfamiliar with it, Mahara is a student-centered learning tool that provides a venue for students to collect and showcase academic and co-curricular “artifacts” (e.g. assignments, projects, videos, blogs, images, etc.). It allows students to engage in reflective learning as they make connections between artifacts, experiences, and accomplishments. Mahara and PBLA are augmentation tools because they directly substitute a paper portfolio and provide a student-centered focus. Online portfolios also assist in improving student productivity and potential as students are more likely to post since they can access the portfolio anywhere at any time, and they can use and reuse the portfolio contents for other assignments and for real-world situations, like job interviews.

Please check out SAMR Says Part II next month to learn about the two tiers in Transformation.

Have you used the SAMR model before?


H.L. (2017). SAMR Model: A Practical Guide for EdTech Integration. [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Hubken Group. (2020). How to use and create H5P content in Moodle and Totara Learn (2021 update) [Blog post]. Hubken Group. 

Hi! I'm Sarah Langridge Bitar. Passionately obsessed with teaching, it is a part of everything I do. I work full-time as an EdTech Development Coordinator at Carleton University and work part-time as an ELT instructor in an IT program. I've taught everything from literacy to EAP and anything in between. I've worked all over Kingston and Ottawa in ESL and for Global Affairs and NAV Canada as a Pedagogical Advisor and Learning Quality Specialist. I enjoy writing and sharing my research with others, so I am excited to have a platform to encourage all of you, and challenge you to think about your teaching and learning methodologies. I'm on my way to work in the photo here, and I just think, if you aren't having fun, you aren't doing it right. Feel free to connect on LinkedIn to learn about my other publications.


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