Innovation in the Science Classroom: Consider the SAMR Model

I consider myself to be open to innovation but I am skeptical of new technologies.  A number of tools that I have tried turned out to be fluff - not worth the investment.  Why would you use a tool when the original method was more effective to begin with?

As I evaluate which technologies work well in my high school science classroom, I will be using the SAMR model.  The SAMR model is a paradigm that assesses whether integrating a technology enhances or transforms the learning.  SAMR is an acronym for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition.  A technology’s use will fall within one of these four categories:

Substitution: The technology provides a substitute for other learning activities without any change to the function of the learning activities.  For example, students can make a table of data on paper or with Excel.  Both options provide the student the ability to meet the same objective.

Augmentation: The technology is a substitute for other learning activities with improved functionality.  For example, Google Docs and Word are both word processors, but Google Docs allows for the document to be shared and edited in real time.

Modification: The technology allows the activity to be redesigned.  Google Classroom, for example, allows the teacher to assign homework, videos, ask and respond to questions.  Google Classroom transforms the learning process.

Redefinition: Here, the technology allows for the creation of new tasks that could not have been done without the use of this technology.  Skype, a video conferencing tool, can be used to connect students with anyone around the world.  Students can chat with an astronaut, a researcher or fellow students across the globe to gain new perspectives that they would otherwise not have access to.

I think it is important to note that not all technology or innovative teaching methods are worthwhile.  When innovating, consider whether the developers are educators themselves (or have consulted educators) or entrepreneurs hoping to catch the white whale of Ministry dollars.  I believe the difference here is that educators have the experience to know what is needed in the classroom and have the passion to create innovative resources and tools to aid those needs.  As I proceed with my evaluations of these technologies, you may or may not agree with my opinions.  I will also be considering the opinions of my own students.  Their opinion may have more weight than my own.  It is important to ask students directly whether they enjoy, are engaged with and learn better with a new method.  This can promote their own metacognition into how they learn best.  Which is what we’re really after, isn’t it?


Miller, Matt. “10 Ways to Reach SAMR.” Ditch That Textbook, 5 Apr. 2014,

Puentedura, Ruben R. “Learning, Technology, and the SAMR Model: Goals, Processes, and Practice.” Hippasus,

Romrell, D., Kidder, L., Wood, E. (2014). The SAMR Model as a Framework for Evaluating mLearning. Retrieved Jan 18, 2018, from

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