Webinar Recap: Thoughtful Leadership–The SAMR Model to Guide Classroom Technology Use

On May 24th, ClassIn’s latest Thoughtful Leadership webinar explored the SAMR model to guide classroom technology use. Moderator Lingyue Zheng presented honorable speakers Mohd Faisal Farish Bin Ishak, Head of Unit of Language and Technology Department at the English Language Teaching Centre, and Nayeema Rahman, Senior Lecturer and LMS Specialist at Daffodil International University.


First proposed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, the SAMR model outlines four degrees of classroom technology integration–substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition. The speakers offered detailed explanation of the SAMR model and its application regarding specific learning environments and local contexts.

Event poster
Event poster

Understanding the SAMR Model: A Staircase or an Ecosystem?


ICT Integration in Malaysia

Kickstarting the discussion on the assessment of technology integration, Dr. Mohd Faisal Farish Bin Ishak recognized the existing digital gap and how local policies play an impactful role.


“In the Malaysia Education Blueprint, Shift 7 came with an effort to leverage ICT to scale up quality learning across the nation,” Faisal emphasized. “This shift put up several aims like to provide internet access and virtual learning environments for all 10,000 schools.”

Dr. Faisal presented Shift 7 of Malaysia Education Blueprint
Dr. Faisal presented Shift 7 of Malaysia Education Blueprint

Malaysia’s encouragement of ICT adoption in schools is also reflected in its standard-based curriculum documents for primary and secondary schools. The documents envisioned technologies as delivering more interactive activities for pupils, enhancing learning quality, and more.


What Is the SAMR Model?

“The most popular reason for technology integration is always about injecting fun elements into teaching and learning,” Faisal explained why educators should adopt an assessment model. “Teachers must always remember to put pedagogy first and technology second…we must ask ourselves: how will this tool support learning and allow students to demonstrate conceptual mastery.”


“The SAMR model is a framework teachers can utilize to assess how they are incorporating technologies into their instruction,” Faisal introduced.

  • Substitution: Technology acts as a direct substitute with no functional change

  • Augmentation: Technology acts as a direct substitute with functional improvement

  • Modification: Technology allows for significant task redesign

  • Redefinition: Technology allows for the creation of new tasks previously inconceivable

Dr. Faisal introduced the SAMR model
Dr. Faisal introduced the SAMR model

However, Faisal cautioned approaching the model as a hierarchy. “Sometimes, in my opinion, this ladder-like arrangement can be misleading. Because substitution, which is at the bottom of the ladder, sometimes is the best choice for a particular lesson or context… Therefore, personally, I think it is better to think of the SAMR model more as an ecosystem for teaching and learning,” he said.

"Therefore, personally, I think it is better to think of the SAMR model more as an ecosystem for teaching and learning."---Mohd Faisal Farish Bin Ishak, Head of Unit of Language and Technology Department at the English Language Teaching Centre

There is not only one way to understand the SAMR model. Referencing the work of Sylvia Duckworth, EdTech consultant and an award-winning teacher of more than 30 years, Faisal guided the audience to make sense of the SAMR model through the scenario of a person exploring the waters. With more advanced tools and effective use, the person is able to gain deeper knowledge and explore the entire ocean.

Dr. Faisal presented the SAMR model as exploring the waters
Dr. Faisal presented the SAMR model as exploring the waters

The SAMR Model in Practice

Dr. Puentedura, who developed the SAMR model, foregrounded a simple activity to clarify how the model can be used in teaching design. Taking Google Earth as an example in a Geology class, educators can apply the tool as a basic substitution for a map, or they can redefine the task by letting students create a narrated Google Earth tour and share online.


Dr. Faisal showcased a Geology class activity with the SAMR model
Dr. Faisal showcased a Geology class activity with the SAMR model

On the other hand, Faisal approached the model as a learning ecosystem, which he further illustrated through the task of a five-paragraph essay. “Various digital tools can be used in a lesson in this teaching and learning environment,” he stated.

  • YouTube can work as a substitute for a textbook, or it can augment learning by allowing comments

  • Word substitutes the traditional pen and pencil, but it will reach augmentation with grammar check enabled

  • Padlet modifies the task by allowing students to upload their essays, give feedback, and create polls

  • Flipgrid redefines the experience by giving students a platform to express their ideas and create narrative essays, which can then be uploaded to YouTube to reach a wider audience

Dr. Faisal introduced how to use the SAMR model as an ecosystem
Dr. Faisal introduced how to use the SAMR model as an ecosystem

“In short, we can see that the tools being used in this lesson ecosystem support each other and can be used at any level depending on specific purposes and context of the lesson,” he highlighted.


Implementing the SAMR Model: LMS System in Higher Education


21st Century Learning in the Post-Pandemic World

Operating under the framework of nurturing 21st-century learners, Nayeema Rahman primed her presentation with how technologies and the pandemic changed education.


“As an educator, we started to panic–what would happen to our students? We don’t know. So with the pandemic, all of a sudden, our learning process changed,” Rahman reflected. Educators were prompted to think about new environment adaptability, the fourth industrial revolution, and innovative pedagogical approaches.

Ms. Rahman on how pandemic learning changed
Ms. Rahman on how pandemic learning changed

Pandemic learning has brought about changes in students as well. Rahman was surprised to learn that “many of our students now prefer digital content to work on.” For instance, she highlighted that 71% students engage more with digital course materials, and 84% students say digital will enhance knowledge.


Taking into account innovation and changes but as well as challenges like burnout and mental health issues, Rahman asked: “What can we do to make learning smoother right now after having technological integration during the pandemic?”


The SAMR Model for Setting up an LMS in Hybrid Learning

“We thought the learning process should not only be about online learning. We should go for a hybrid learning process–technologies will be there, and social interaction will also be there,” Rahman introduced. “I started to contact with our department people to initiate a customized learning management system. This happened during the pandemic, but we started to contribute more and integrate more during hybrid learning.”

Ms. Rahman showcased the LMS system she designed for hybrid learning
Ms. Rahman showcased the LMS system she designed for hybrid learning

Rahman detailed how the SAMR model guided the design of the LMS system. “How can we integrate a new technology framework in our learning process to make a smooth transition?... So what we did through implementing a learning management system was to augment, modify, and redefine our learning process.” Specifically, the LMS system achieves

  • Augmentation: Teachers can publish courses, guidelines, curriculums, and slides, and both online and onsite students will have access to learning materials anytime.

  • Modification: All classes are recorded and shared in the LMS, which helped students become more engaged and communicative in class.

  • Redefinition: Adding a discussion forum encouraged feedback and collaboration. In addition, the introduction of AI-enabled learning analytics identifies learning behaviors and keeps track of student progress.

“Through the SAMR model, we tried to introduce augmentation, modification, and transformation, which is happening in our department and other departments. This can be an opportunity for us to make our students’ lives better and make a change in the world as educators,” Rahman shared.

“Through the SAMR model, we tried to introduce augmentation, modification, and transformation...This can be an opportunity for us to make our students’ lives better and make a change in the world as educators,"---Nayeema Rahman, Senior Lecturer and LMS Specialist at Daffodil International University

Technology Integration and 21st Century Learners

With an in-depth understanding of the system to assist learning, what is a 21st-century learner like? Rahman pointed to characteristics such as being globally aware, civically engaged, collaborative as well as thinking critically.

Ms. Rahman on what a 21st-century learner is
Ms. Rahman on what a 21st-century learner is

“Even when I was customizing the LMS for our department…It was a challenge at the time, but many of our students contributed to this to make it happen, so I have to thank them. In a sense, they are becoming problem-solvers. They are thinking critically, and everything is there that the students will need in the job market,” Rahman stressed.


Q&A: Inclusivity, Barriers, Learning Outcomes, and More

“It’s very inspiring to hear how educators are integrating technologies into practice and trying to improve the learning experience. So I have a question for Dr. Nayeema. I’m wondering how the SAMR model can help students with disabilities and learning difficulties,” asked Echo, an audience member in the classroom.

Audience Q&A
Audience Q&A

Being mindful of different kinds of disabilities, Rahman encouraged introducing new devices and elements into the system, which is already customizable. More importantly, “What we can do is that we need to engage and find out how is it possible for them to communicate with us. We need to find the requirements, something they are comfortable with, and we can introduce that into our LMS model,” she said.


An ESL teacher watching the live stream proposed a question to Faisal on how the SAMR model affects learning outcomes. “When you have a strong curriculum, any model that will fit into this curriculum based on your local context will very much impact the learning outcomes…In Malaysia our curriculum can be aligned with the SAMR model,” Faisal explained.


What are the, if any, barriers to implementing the SAMR model in class? What if the school and parents are concerned about learning outcomes once we introduce more technologies into the classroom?


Faisal suggested beginning from the pedagogy and the technologies on hand. “Teachers must have this view that whatever technologies they use, they must prioritize pedagogies. Low tech or high tech, you must ask yourself what you want your students to achieve,” he emphasized.

"Teachers must have this view that whatever technologies they use, they must prioritize pedagogies. Low tech or high tech, you must ask yourself what you want your students to achieve,"----Mohd Faisal Farish Bin Ishak, Head of Unit of Language and Technology Department at the English Language Teaching Centre

“Too many technologies are a confusion…this is why we created a central learning management system for our higher ed where all the teachers are using the same technology and the same integration method,” Rahman reflected while being open to other possibilities. “If you are not thinking about an LMS, what you can do is that you can sit with a team of people who are using the technologies as educators to try to understand which one is the best.”


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Related Resources

Event Recording: https://live.classin.com/pc.html?lessonKey=92446a448ae4aa11

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