SAMR, TPACK and the EduTech Quintet, with Ruben Puentedura

On Friday the 15th of May, I attended a full day workshop with Ruben Puentedura, the man behind the SAMR model. All his slides can be found here.

Edtech Quintet is model for selecting technologies.

21st century learning: Foundational, meta and humanistic knowledge. Students have access to more knowledge than at anytime in the history of the world. Here is a great presentation by


Foundational knowledge: This category is the answer to the “what” question i.e. “What do students need to know?” The frameworks we reviewed saw this in terms of three key sub-categories: Core Content Knowledge; Information Literacy; and Cross-disciplinary knowledge/ synthetic knowledge.

Meta knowledge: This category is about knowledge of how to work with the foundational knowledge, the process as it were. The three sub-categories under this are: Problem solving / Critical Thinking; Communication / Collaboration; and Creativity / Innovation.

Humanistic Knowledge: This category is about knowledge of the learner’s self and its location in a broader social and global context. The sub-categories include: Life / Job skills; Cultural competence; and Ethical / Emotional Awareness. (Source)

  • Always ask: Why? What do you want to accomplish?
  • The skills we ask of our students, we used to ask of scholars.
  • Good point: International learning or understanding does not happen with a quick Skype, or an Asian Food festival. More is needed.
  • There has always been technology in classrooms: A black board is technology, a whiteboard superseded that. Books are technology, computers add to that.

The SAMR model explained

Ruben then explained how the SAMR model works. He released this model in 2011 and ever since then, people have been creating different visuals of the model. Below is a selection:


Good point, one I did not realise: Ruben says that there is no moral judgement built into SAMR, because tasks at different levels can all work, the only thing Ruben would say is that you mix the different tasks, try to work at different levels and use what works. All the levels are defined relevant to your current practice, what is augmentation for one person, can be modification to another. It’s also a case of access to technology and maturity in teaching practice. There are no absolutes in SAMR.

Ruben: It’s also very important that teachers don’t become dazzled by a student’s ability to use Sims, Minecraft or a blog, the result must still show higher order thinking skills. “Keep you eye on the task, what is the goal?” Fancy animations do not mean good thinking.

What models for teaching development work? Ways to success: Building a community of practice in the school. Professional Development is needed, however, sending off all your teachers to a seminar does not work.

SAMR Ladder, it’s a way to show progression but it’s not linear, you can move from one stage to the other or jump, it’s not meant to be a monolith or prescriptive. It should not just be a drive for redefinition, you must use common sense. Go for diversity over the monolithic, all consuming task.

Getting to move beyond “the big essay” at the end of a task, what can you do? Ruben seems to hint at a form of Blooms, to ‘create’, redefine something. For instance, create a game. (Ruben uses Sherlock Holmes as an example) Twine is a game design engine.

Good point: Students don’t respond well to fake creativity, disingenuous task: A simple multiple choice test masquerading as something fake cool. It has to be a genuine opportunity to do something different.

Great Thinglink image of edtech tools that can be used for SAMR: 

Ruben on Hattie: Tech does not have a high effect size because he sees a lot of low level practice. On Meta Studies that he has done, he sees Modification and redefinition as a very high effect size.

My question is same as one already asked by Andrew: How do we get teachers on board? How do you get a teacher who never uses technology or has been ‘burnt’ by it, back on a SAMR ladder?

The TPACK model explained

Difference between technical knowlegde > substitution (the practical, how does a dissolve work in iMovie? It is easy to provide support for this) and technological knowledge > Augmentation.
You can find lots of PD people who ‘train’ people in the use of TPACK. This is where a community of practice is needed, with a PLN (Personal Learning Network) for each teacher (Yay, could not agree more). PLNs can take many forms, could be pinterest, linkedin, twitter, blogs etc etc.

TPACK is the jigsawing and app-smashing of all these technological possibilities. A PLN (Community of practice) is the only sustainable way to maintain good PD and technical growth.

PLN: Lave and Wenger, research here.

We need to use technology in the way it is used in the real world.

Learning should be social, students need to see what other students are doing.

The Edutech Quintet

  • Social: Communication, Collaboration, Sharing
  • Mobility: Anytime, Anyplace learning and creation
  • Visualisation: Making the abstract concepts tangible. Different types of visualisation, conceptual, visual, audio.
  • Storytelling: Knowledge integration and transmission. By making meaning for someone else, you make meaning for yourself.
  • Gaming:  Feedback loops and formative assessment. It’s fun, but that’s not the most important aspect. You cannot say: Because it’s fun, kids will learn. Must ask: What drives learning in educational games. Formal definition of a game: A game is a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome.” You need ‘hard fun’ because it is complex and worthy.
    Desire to resolving the conflict drives the learning and the success of the game.
    Could use SimCity to build city (Year 8!)


Edtech Quintet

Don’t drive too many tools, you will drown in them. You must hit the sweet spot, there must be a certain richness of tools to reach a good adoption of SAMR. Teachers can have a set of great tools that work for them.

Activity: Create your own SAMR ladder

We worked in groups to create a ‘SAMR ladder’. (I created a nutshell video, it’s a new app by Prezi, good fun)

Pick the focus for your SAMR ladder from three categories:

  • What is your passion?
  • What is a barrier to your students? What don’t they get? Where do they get stuck?
  • The Amnesia Event: What would be the ONE thing you want your students to remember?

Meaningful assessment using SAMR

It’s a pity that many things are assessed using few of the online tools available. Writing an essay uses a small subset of student skills under adverse conditions. Pen and paper can be limiting.

If a student does something new, uses something new (new tools), they learn new things.

Surveying Seymour Papert’s Four Expectations (or better word: Observations)

  • Expectation 1: suitably designed formative/summative assessment rubrics will show improvement when compared to traditional instruction.
  • Expectation 2: students will show more instances of work at progressively higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
  • Expectation 3: student work will demonstrate more – and more varied – critical thinking cognitive skills,particularly in areas related to the examination of their own thinking processes.
  • Expectation 4: student daily life will reflect the introduction of the technology. This includes (but is not limited to) directly observable aspects such as reduction in student attrition, increase in engagement with civic processes in their community, and engagement with communities beyond their own.



Look at Facione: Critical thinking – cognitive skills and subskills. It is not a hierarchy like Blooms. You can use these as elements of success of an assessment program.

facione critcal thinking


Black and William: Defining Formative Assessment:
“Practice in a classroom is formative to the extent that evidence about student achievement is elicited, interpreted, and used by teachers, learners, or their peers, to make decisions about the next steps in instruction that are likely to be better, or better founded, than the decisions they would have taken in the absence of the evidence that was elicited.”

Assessment is only formative if it can result in change in either what the teacher does or what the student does.

Below is a framework by Dylan William (coming to our school soon).
Rubrics are a good way to tell students what they have to do and know to achieve success.



A well designed rubric tells the student what they have to do and WHY.
WALT: We are learning to
WILF: What I’m looking for
TIB: This is because
Make explicit progressions within rubrics, and progressions across rubrics.

There is a problem with traditional rubrics: Advanced, Proficient, Basic, Below Basic or Excellent, Good, Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory. Yes, we do this in my department. Thankfully with the MYP rubrics, the ‘plain language’ descriptors are becoming far better.

A rubric should not just be A, B, C and D in disguise. It should show the progression of achievement. SOLO taxonomy could fit in here.



Something to explore: A branching rubric. In our current Year 10 unit, the rubrics are pretty terrible. Next year we will be fully switched to MYP and I will make sure the rubrics will be better then. Info here: Writing good rubrics. This also ties in with SOLO taxonomy.

Overall, this was a very good day. It is so important to take a break from the crazy maelstrom that is school life and think about how technology can be implemented in a meaningful way, rather than a tokenistic and haphazard manner. It makes me realise how much I would like to take some more time to plan and map activities and assessment tasks.