The SAMR Model is Missing a Level

By AJ Juliani on March 14, 2016

One of the most often used models for technology integration in education is the SAMR Model. Here is a quick overview for those that may not be familiar: 1


It starts with S for Substitution. Technology can substitute but the functionality stays the same. Writing on a chalkboard is the same function as writing on a whiteboard and writing on an overhead projector and smartboard (as long as all you are doing is project words and diagrams onto a board).

A is for Augmentation. Where technology has direct functional improvement over previous methods. This is like writing in a notebook by hand vs writing in Microsoft Word. The editing, saving, and other tools take the functionality up a notch.

M is for Modification. Now we have a scenario where students begin to use Google Docs to write and have real-time auto-saving and collaboration functionality. It has modified and redesigned the task to allow for new possibilities.

Finally, we have R for Redefinition. When my students took their Google documents that were collaborated on, and then shared them on a blog with students in Australia and Qatar it was redefining what previously was possible. Their feedback and collaboration across continents to create a script for a video they would publish and share with thousands of people online made a learning activity go beyond anything previously inconceivable.

Some view SAMR as a ladder. 2

SAMR Ladder Analogy

Others view it as a swimming pool. 3

SAMR Pool via Carl Hooker

And in this sketchy video John Spencer dives into a good overview of SAMR:

SAMR’s Missing Level

But, the SAMR Model is missing a level. It’s at the top and is happening to industries and businesses and schools all over the world at this very moment.

What happens when technology is no longer “integrated” into what we do, but instead Eliminates what we do because of the advancement?

E is for Elimination.

My six-year-old daughter probably does not need to know the Dewey Decimal system anymore. She may be taught the system, but many librarians argue it should be eliminated. Many libraries have ditched the system for a BISAC method similar to that of what you see in big bookstores, but even that may have its days numbered.

Augmented reality allows you to hold up your phone (or any device with a camera) and simply tell you where in the library or store a specific book is located. The technology has eliminated the need to learn, memorize, and store the Dewey Decimal system in your memory (as I had to do as a kid).

Even more so, the need for libraries is being eliminated in many colleges (at least in the traditional sense of what a library was). Many of these spaces are being transformed and renovated to have a much different feel and purpose. I spent almost no time in the library as a Graduate student and was able to do all of my research online, much quicker, and easier to find information through databases.

Technology has proven time and time again that it eliminates many previously valued skills in past generations. You can look at the impact on agriculture (We grow vegetables in the basement of our school). Or look at the impact on transportation (I don’t need to know how to ride a horse). Or look at the impact on healthcare (I don’t like going to the doctor so no examples for this one!).

Whether we want to embrace it or not, the fact is that technology has transformed our world and the reality of learning (and living) in this world.

The science shows that our brains are slowly evolving while the world around us is quickly evolving. This eliminates the need for many learning tasks we previously had to do (i.e. taking notes) and has us rely much more heavily on a third-party teacher that is usually not a teacher but instead a machine/device/computer of some sort.

E is when you get to the top of the SAMR Ladder and get off onto a building or structure. E is when you sit in the lifeguard chair at the pool. Elimination (via technological advances) is happening all around us, and we can’t deny it’ impact on our world of teaching and learning.

If this sounds “scary” to you, maybe it should be a bit unnerving. It scares me but also excites me at the same time.

I think of students (like myself when I was in school) that didn’t “play the game of school” well. I didn’t like taking notes, which hurt me when it came time to study for a multiple choice test. I didn’t like reading only books that were chosen for me, which hurt when I didn’t have a choice in selection. I didn’t like doing 50 math problems at night to try and “understand” the concept.

Because technology can help change this game of school, it opens up new opportunities for students who struggled in a traditional setting to find success in a non-traditional path where other skills are valued and assessed.

And isn’t that what this is all about? Isn’t this a main purpose of technology in education: To give all students the best chance to learn and succeed.

To that end, I say bring on the Elimination. It’s going to shake things up a bit on our (teaching) side, but I’m hoping it is for the benefit of all our learners.

What have you seen technology eliminate in your life?

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  1. Source:

  2. Found via

  3. Via this awesome article