Understanding Two Frameworks for Technology Integration: SAMR and TPACK

There are two popular frameworks for understanding technology integration: SAMR and TPACK.  It’s important to understand these two models so that educators can share a common vision for technology in their schools and utilize common vocabulary to describe their technology integration process.

An Overview of the SAMR Model,
source: Walsh (2015)

Dr. Rueben Puentedura developed the SAMR Model to describe the four levels of technology integration.   These levels include substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition.  In substitution, a technology tool is used in place of different resource, but the intended outcome and purpose for the activity are the same.  In augmentation, a technology tool replaces a different resource, and the outcome is improved or enhanced.  With modification, the resource is different, and it requires a significantly different task as the intended outcome.  Then, with redefinition, the technology tool is different, so that makes it possible to create a previously inconceivable, new task.   Redefinition also includes students using higher order thinking skills to perform technology-based tasks.  The SAMR Model focuses on how teachers use technology resources to go beyond enhancing content to transforming the learning experience; this requires students to use technology tools to create new products that are only possible with digital resources.  For a brief overview of the SAMR Model, please check out this video, courtesy of Candace M. (2013): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=us0w823KY0g

An Overview of the TPACK Model,
source: St. Matthew’s Parish School (n.d.)

Dr. Matthew Koehler designed the TPACK Model as a more holistic way for teachers and students to use technology for learning experiences.  TPACK focuses on seven components within a teaching context: Technological Knowledge, Pedagogical Knowledge, Content Knowledge, Technological Pedagogical Knowledge, Pedagogical Content Knowledge, and Technological Content Knowledge.  In other words, what a person teaches, how the person teaches, and the specific accompanying technology tool(s) a person utilizes all need to work together.  TPACK is where all seven components converge to create Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge.  The philosophy behind TPACK is that having one or two of the key elements still leaves a deficiency, and all the parts are needed to work together to optimize the technological learning experience.  For a brief overview of the TPACK Model, please watch this video, also created by Candace M. (2013): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FagVSQlZELY&list=UUyiLyAMZj_Y8QWdlpZHAgDQ

While I like the philosophy behind the TPACK Model, I believe the SAMR Model is the best approach to use when talking about technology integration at my school.  I work at a school that focuses on continuing education for adult learners, so we have both full-time and part-time teachers who have a wide variety of teaching experiences and levels of training.  The TPACK Model requires a solid pedagogical knowledge and content knowledge, and most of our teachers never received formal training in the educational field.  Some teachers have master’s degrees in specific content areas but do not have training in teaching, and others have bachelor’s degrees in unrelated fields.  The teachers at my school have such a wide variety of experiences, trainings, and backgrounds that it would be difficult for us to have in-depth discussions that require specialized TPACK vocabulary.  The SAMR Model is a much better fit at my school because it focuses on HOW we are using technology resources to challenge our students and encourage them to use higher-order thinking skills.  Every teacher, regardless of their training and content knowledge, can discuss the importance of transforming classroom learning through strategic implementation of technology and requiring students to produce digital products of significance and merit.

It might be challenging to educate my school’s staff about a concept like the SAMR Model, but I would try to accomplish that at a face-to-face professional development training.  First, I’d want to introduce the philosophy and components of this model by sharing the 2-minute video that I mentioned previously.  Next, I’d want us to examine several examples of how the SAMR Model is used in actual classroom instruction and practices.  Teachers could work with partners or small groups to read through classroom examples from blogs like this one and discuss how each of the stages are apparent and how the author changed the assignments to increase the transforming level of learning and engagement.  Then, teachers could work with colleagues who teach similar content to reflect on how they could take a basic assignment and work through the stages of the SAMR Model to make that assignment reach the redefinition stage.  It’s likely that my co-workers and I would need to revisit the topic of the SAMR Model at various points throughout the school year to check on how teachers and students are doing with the implementation of technology.  I general check of the SAMR level could be included with required classroom observations.  I could also lead guided reflections on the technology implementation process when I meet with teachers for instructional coaching sessions.

Technology implementation is not something that happens over night; it takes time, effort, and strategic planning.  The SAMR Model seems like a better fit for the teachers at my school, but both models are effective in providing common language and a framework for intentional conversations about technology implementation.  If anyone has experience with either the SAMR Model or the TPACK Model, I’d love to hear about your observations and insights.


Candace M.  (2013, May 30).  SAMR in 120 seconds [Video file].  Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=us0w823KY0g

Candace M.  (2013, April 26).  TPACK in 2 minutes [Video file].  Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FagVSQlZELY&list=UUyiLyAMZj_Y8QWdlpZHAgDQ

St. Matthew’s Parish School.  (n.d.)  Models for understanding technology integration [Blog post].  Retrieved from http://www.ipadbootcampforteachers.com/samrtpack.html

Walsh, K.  (2015, April 20).  8 examples of transforming lessons through the SAMR cycle [Blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.emergingedtech.com/2015/04/examples-of-transforming-lessons-through-samr/

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