Dr. Ruben Puentedura

On Tuesday 24th May, Laura Brown and I attended an Apple ADE event hosting Dr. Ruben Puentedura. Dr. Puentedura designed the seminal SAMR model, a system for effective integration of technology to enhance learning. SAMR defines the levels of technology integration as Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition. The SAMR model was only a part of this presentation and the focus was more so on the TPACK model (Technical, Pedagogical and Content Knowledge) and how the two are aligned.


Expert teachers are those who can bring together knowledge of subject matter, what is good for learning, and technology (ICT). The combination is described as Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK). It is more than simply adding ICT to traditional approaches. It depends upon deep knowledge of how ICT can be used to access and process subject matter (TCK) and understanding how ICT can support and enhance learning (TPK) in combination with PCK. Dr. Puentedura’s presentation provided examples of a learning task at each rung on the SAMR ladder and discussed the relationship between this and the TPACK model. The following slides demonstrate these relationships.


Following the presentation, we had the opportunity to work in small groups to develop of own SAMR ladder for Dr. Puentedura to critique. The various SAMR ladders can be viewed here. See the Circulatory System for our ladder. Dr. Puentedura provided a table listing the practices associated with the fundamental domains of human activity; social, mobility, visualisation, story telling, and gaming. We were encouraged to consider these practices in the development of our SAMR ladder. The ideal is to incorporate between 2 and 4 of these practices into any one learning task.

EdTech Quintet

One of the most interesting elements of the presentation was an analysis of multiple credible studies looking the use of technology by students and the associated impact on learning when referenced against the SAMR model. It was fascinating to see the magnitude of the effect, in favour of learning, when tasks assigned to students involved modification and redefinition. Even when tasks are at the augmentation level, there is no negative impact on student learning. Only when the task is at the substitution level is there an opportunity for that task to have an overall negative effect on student learning. Essentially, this is suggesting that when we are concerned about the use of technology and the associated distractions, we need to ask ourselves – where does this task sit on the SAMR ladder? It is a known fact that when students are engaged, they learn better and develop a deeper and more meaningful understanding. If we consider the SAMR model, I would imagine we would also see a direct correlation between engagement and the associated position on the SAMR ladder the particular task holds. Substitution, less engaged, more distracted. Modification and redefinition, more engaged, less distracted.

“Tables for teaching and learning: a systematic review and meta-analysis” Commonwealth of Learning (2015)

At the conclusion of the presentation we had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Puentedura about our recent roll out of Staff Professional Learning Blogs and the use of the Student Digital Learning Portfolios at Caulfield Grammar School. This was pertinent as several times during the workshop Ruben had mentioned the effectiveness of blogs as learning portfolios to move tasks to reach modification and redefinition on the SAMR ladder. It also supports the associated practices of learning through Social, Mobility and Storytelling. So if you’re not currently using DigiMe in your classes, give it a go!

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