How to use tech in teaching: SAMR

Thank you to P.Mapstone (@petemapstone) et al. at King Edward VI school in Southampton for showing me their work embedding technology into teaching and learning.

King Edward VI is a well funded, forward thinking and highly accomplished (fee paying) school and over the last 4 years they have been focussing on developing their use of technology to make learning more effective.


After much research the iPad platform was chosen for the one-to-one device for students.  Their study identified many good reasons why the iPad was better for them over the alternatives such as Android, Chromebook etc. but those that I found particularly interesting:

  • the iPad provided specific apps that they considered useful to their curriculum
  • they were impressed at the stability and robustness of the hardware
  • teaching staff needed to assume a consistent platform throughout their class

They have x2 online learning environments; one deals with homework, school diary and work deadlines and the other is Google Classroom that is used to provide student collaboration and more effective management of digital resources (delivery to students and subsequent collation and assessment).

Google Classroom

I was really taken by what Google Classroom offers, particularly for assessment and feedback.  ICT and Computing mostly produce digital artefacts – ie. not in books.  This makes assessment and effective feedback very tricky.  Pete and his team ask students to make short video clips of their work (screen casting or mobile phone filming) with students explaining their thought processes and explanation of any difficulties overcame etc.  These clips are then uploaded via Google Classroom into class collections.  Teaching staff can then select their class and click on each video clip providing written or verbal feedback.  Google Docs enables comments so a feedback dialogue can easily exist with any written work.

SAMR – Substitution / Augmentation / Modification / Redefinition

After choosing and purchasing the technology, the next problem for Pete and his team was how to enable teaching staff to use IT effectively.  Acceptance and adoption of the technology has been, on the whole, positive – I did hear of a teacher proudly using their iPad as a book mark.  But each teacher had the same problem: “Where do I start embedding this technology into my teaching?”.  Pete and his team did a lot of the leg work for them based on the SAMR model and then provided (and still does) training – in his opinion a key requirement for success.

SAMR is a model popularised by Dr. Ruben Puentedura that tries to abstract the layers of technology use in teaching.  It is aspirational.  I once heard a head teacher proudly proclaim that “…we are at the forefront of elearning – we have electronic whiteboards in every classroom”.  From my experience electronic whiteboards are, due to the vagaries of the technology, unstable and therefore useless.  In my view they do the same job as a projector screen – others may disagree.  As they do the same job as non-digital alternatives they fit into the “Substitution” category or the “S” part of “SAMR”.  I don’t agree with using technology for the sake of IT.   I think technology should enhance the learning environment.  This is dealt with by the other layers.   I therefore think how I can access the higher layers of this model. “Redefinition” is my goal.

Whether SAMR is the panacea or not, it is certainly a good base from which to consider how to use technology in our teaching.  It has also been linked to Bloom’s.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *