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4 Ways to Apply Interactive Whiteboards to the SAMR Model

The SAMR model is an effective description – and guide – for the implementation of EdTech in modern education. The acronym stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. Each describes ways that technology can either enhance or transform the learning process. And the model is remarkably good at showing how interactive digital whiteboards can be integrated into education.

Read on for more on the SAMR model along with examples of how it could apply to you.

Let us take a look at the SAMR Model and how it applies to interactive whiteboards as an EdTech.

What is the SAMR Model

The SAMR Model for categorizing technology integration in education was created by Dr. Ruben Puentedura. He is President of Hippasus, an educational consulting firm with expertise in technology, pedagogy, and administration. SAMR is an acronym standing for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. These four groupings provide an outline on how to cluster different ways to implement and integrate technology in education. Substitution and Augmentation are considered ‘Enhancement’ levels, while Modification and Redefinition are grouped together as ‘Transformation’ levels.

Broadly put these categories can be described as follows.


Substitution: The technology acts as a direct tool substitute, with no functional change to the teaching task. For example, using a tablet for class notes instead of pen and paper. The function of both tools stays the same.

Augmentation: The technology acts as a direct tool substitute with functional improvement to the teaching task. For example, allowing students to use a computer to search for scholarly articles to write their reports instead of manual text-based library searches. Here the function of the technology enhances the tool used to educate in both terms of speed and number of results possible.


Modification: The technology allows for significant educational task redesign. At this level of implementing technology in education, the technology will allow for changes to the design of the educational experience and learning outcome. For example, the use of Internet communication applications allows for distance learning which a big jump from recorded video lessons. This new technology offers many new capabilities such as real-time interaction and feedback that the teacher can redevelop their lessons around.

Redefinition: The technology allows for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable. At this level of technology application, the educational experience is transformed. The technological tool allows the teacher to redefine the learning objectives creating a new educational experience. For example, the use of VR allows for an immersive experience for students to not only read about the subject matter in textbooks or watch a video but to visualize the subject in virtual reality. Students then can describe their experience in many more dimensions than previously. This application of VR technology could be described as a re-imagination of the teaching task and outcomes achievable.

Why is the SAMR Model Useful for Understanding EdTech?

The SAMR Model is useful as a scale of how technology affects and influences education.

On one end, the Enhancement levels only improve on the current standards and methods of teaching. These types of EdTech implementation are normally easier to accept and incorporate into current lessons and teaching styles. The changes are gradual and do not require much re-training as they are only meant to enrich the learning experience.

On the other side of the spectrum are the Transformation levels, where the EdTech makes a much larger impact on the aspect of education it is modifying or even replacing. Here the teaching task needs to be redesigned, reconfigured, or redefined. The results could be something that is very different from the original.

For example, let’s take the example of digital textbooks on tablets. By applying Modification, the teacher can incorporate many new and different functions into their lesson plans such as embedded video and voice, click to reveal additional materials, and instant internet access from links in the e-books. These functions give the teacher much more options and flexibility to enhance the lesson plan compared to traditional textbooks.

With educational goals in mind, the SAMR Model can help determine if the technology is enhancing or transforming the learning. It is a tool to measure the effectiveness of the technology and gives the teacher a guide of how they want to implement the tools they are given. Some would want only to use technology to help them in their teaching tasks while others will choose to replace traditional teaching methods with technological-base ones.

SAMR Model Examples with Digital Interactive Whiteboards

A very popular EdTech being currently rolled out across many schools and universities are the implementation of interactive digital whiteboards. Here the different functionalities and features of an interactive digital whiteboard can be applied to the SAMR model at different levels.

Interactive Digital Whiteboard Features and the SAMR Model Levels:

Interactive Whiteboards to the SAMR Model
  • Digital Whiteboarding as Substitution: In this scenario, a teacher could just replace his normal work on the whiteboard/blackboard with an interactive digital whiteboard. The normal use of writing, underlining, and erasing in both tools still exist mostly in the same form. The teacher could stop there or use more advanced built-in annotation tools in the digital whiteboard, which would move their application of this technology to higher levels of the SAMR Model.
Interactive Whiteboards to the SAMR Model
  • Instant Polling as Augmentation: In this scenario, a teacher could just take a normal poll of the students’ opinions with raised hands. With an interactive digital whiteboard and different software applications, the teacher could instead use a digital poll to allow students to vote, rank, or grade a question. Using EdTech the polling task can be much more advanced and provides even more additional options such as analytics and reporting. The main function of the poll still mostly stays the same.
Interactive Whiteboards to the SAMR Model
  • Casting/Screen Share as Modification: More advanced interactive digital whiteboards allow for wireless screen sharing and casting. This is a significant change in the ability of the teacher and students to share their ideas in different ways. The teacher needs to re-think the educational task to best take advantage of this functionality. For example, during presentations, group work, and brainstorming both students and teachers can instantly share what they found online by casting their screens to the interactive digital whiteboard. The teacher could also share the whiteboard screen to the student’s individual devices. This back and forth sharing is a significant educational task redesign. 
Interactive Whiteboards to the SAMR Model
  • Multi-Media Presenting as Redefinition: One of the major draws of converting to an interactive digital whiteboard is the ability to display multi-media materials in presentations. The static presentation can be transformed into something much more. Interactive digital whiteboards allow for the possibility of presentations with embedded video content, live streaming, instant annotation, graphics manipulation, and much more. To make use of this technology would require not only redesigning the educational task but open up many new possibilities and options that were not available in the past.

Each one of these features of an interactive digital whiteboard can be implemented in different ways and levels. By using the SAMR Model, the teacher can categorize how deep and involved they want to go in implementing the technology into their classroom learning environments.

EdTech and the SAMR Model – A Scale of Measurement 

We can now see that the SAMR Model is not a model to guide the implementation of educational technology or even a measurement of how effective the technology is once applied. The SAMR Model is only a method of categorizing technology implementation in education. Some technology can be placed in many categories; it is up to the teacher to decide how they want to implement the use of technology in their own classroom. Moreover, as an illustration, we used interactive digital whiteboards as an example that could span all four levels under the SAMR Model. To learn more about educational interactive digital whiteboards and their benefits in the classroom click here.