Use SAMR as a Guide to Choosing the Best Apps for Your Students

Posted by on May 31st, 2017

The SAMR model is an educational framework used by instructors to evaluate the way technology is used in instruction. SAMR is an acronym with each letter representing a level of technological integration: S (substitution), A (augmentation), M (modification), and R (redefinition). At each level, technology influences the instruction and outcome in various ways. Numerous apps can be used to support technology integration at many levels of the SAMR model.


The SAMR model is divided into two segments: enhancement and transformation. Enhancement covers substitution and augmentation. While modification and redefinition comprise the transformation segment. A more detailed understanding of the SAMR model is as follows:

  • Substitution – The technology acts as a direct tool substitute. There is no change in functionality.
  • Augmentation – The technology serves as a direct tool substitute with some functional improvements.
  • Modification – The technology accommodates for a task redesign.
  • Redefinition – The technology supports the creation of previously inconceivable tasks.


As you begin to use the SAMR model in your classroom, it is necessary for you to choose appropriate apps to support your instructional goals. Some examples of apps to choose at each level of the SAMR framework are:



  • Calculator – Learners can replace their handheld calculators with the use of calculator apps embedded on other devices they may already be carrying.
  • Dictionary – Dictionaries can be substituted for dictionary apps.
  • Evernote – Notetaking apps like Evernote can be used to replace the traditional method of pen and paper for notetaking. The notes can also be easily shared without manual copying or the use of a copy machine.
  • ibooks – iBooks, Kindle and similar apps are digital substitutes for textbooks and other handheld reading material.



  • PicCollage – Collage apps allow the augmentation of learning through the ability to annotate images.
  • Video Camera – Video cameras can be used to record oral presentations for review or presentation.
  • Voice Recorder – Voice recording apps can be used in reading to monitor fluency and expression.



  • Garageband – Garageband and similar apps modify learning through the addition of sound and audio elements to presentations.
  • Google Drive – Google Drive supports learning modification using tools for real-time collaboration.
  • iMovie – Apps like iMovie allow the digitization of stories and enhanced presentations.


Redefinition –

  • Book Creator – Book Creator and equivalent apps provide platforms for students to redefine learning through the creation of digital books.
  • Google Hangouts – Google Hangouts and conferencing apps provide an opportunity for engagement to take place outside of the classroom.
  • Google Maps/Earth – Google Maps, Google Earth and comparable apps provide the opportunity for virtual field trips and exploration.


The evolution of instruction and rapid expansion of workplace technology makes the integration of technology a necessity within the adult education classroom. Technology tools such as mobile devices and iPads have become the norm for accessing material both in and outside of the classroom.


The SAMR model supports this technological integration. When utilizing the SAMR model within your classroom, it is essential to identify the appropriate tools to accomplish your goals. Start by asking why do you want to utilize technology in your classroom: to enhance learning; or to transform learning? From there, choose the appropriate level of the SAMR model and applications that support that particular goal.


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