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Unpacking the SAMR Model: Augmentation


In the first article in this series, we discussed an overview of the SAMR Model and then started to unpack it by taking a deeper look at the first stage – Substitution. In this article, we are going to continue our journey of understanding the SAMR model by looking at the second stage – Augmentation.
If you look up “augment” in the dictionary you will find that it means “to make greater, more numerous, larger or more intense” and as this is the second stage of the SAMR model, we can deduce that Augmentation is taking a substitution task and improving its functionality, with a greater impact than it has on the learning outcomes of the students in the classroom. Taking a variety of examples, some of the same that we spoke about in the previous article, we can explore how teachers can introduce digital technology solutions that not only substitute the learning activity but also augment it.

In our first article, we discussed a drama teacher who has their class writing a performance journal. Traditionally they used a pen and paper solution by writing in their class workbooks, but the teacher substituted that with a word document that was emailed to the teacher for assessment. This was a perfect example of substitution in the classroom, however, if the teacher wanted to Augment the learning activity, instead of having the students write their practice journal on a word document, they had them create a blog where they would post their entries each week. While this seems like a substitute for the word document, the augmentation comes from the fact that there can be peer review and feedback given on each blog post through comments. Moving the journal into the blog space allows for the teacher to open the activity up to peer learning, an augmentation of the original learning task which only allowed for a student-teacher-student conversation flow. This augmentation allows students to gain access to a wider amount of feedback that can help them to develop a greater understanding of what they are working on and how they are reporting that in their blog.

Another example could be the use of Online Quizzes in place of the traditional pen and paper style paper. A grade 5 teacher has just finished a unit of work on different capital cities around the world. Traditionally at the end of the unit of work, the students would complete a short quiz to assess what they have learned during the geography unit. By using a digital tool like a Google Form, the teacher has created not only a digital substitution but has created a situation where the students’ engagement has been enhanced with the use of spell check, language and grammar checkers as well as access to a thesaurus. This augmentation has meant that the students can focus on sharing their knowledge without worrying about the spelling of different cities’ names. This augmentation can also assist in ensuring that students can get their ideas across, those that are being assessed, without having the stress of focusing on elements that are not necessarily the main focus of the unit assessment task. The augmentation of this task does not just stop here, it has improved the ways in which the teachers interact with the responses. At the end of the assessment, when students press the submit button, and if it has been set up correctly, the assessments can be corrected and students can receive instant feedback on how they went. In addition to this, the data is uploaded and analysed by the Google platform, providing teachers with infographics outlining the strengths and weaknesses in the student’s responses which can be used to inform the direction for future lessons. The data can also be exported into a spreadsheet for further analysis and reporting.

In our previous article, we also discussed a grade 3 teacher who has completed a unit of work on the Gold Rush. Traditionally the students would create a poster outlining the key points they learned during the unit but the teacher substituted this with a digital flyer. To augment this learning task, students could create hyperlinks on their flyers that could direct the viewer towards different videos or audio files that support the information they are trying to share. The interactivity of adding hyperlinks has turned what was originally a passive assessment experience into a highly engaging and interactive assessment event.

Another example of how augmentation can be applied to student learning activities is through narrative and fictional writing and composition. A year 8 student in their English class is exploring narrative composition with a focus on emotive language. The teacher had traditionally the students write their story on a piece of paper that was submitted to the teacher for assessment. It would have red pen marks written on it and then returned to the student for future improvement. The teacher however decided to substitute the task for an audio recording and had the student submit their story in an audiobook style submission. At the fundamental elements, this is a substitution, but if the teacher asked the students to place inference on the way in which they read the story, using inflections in their voice to demonstrate their understanding of the emotional language being used, the task has been augmented. In addition to this, students could add an audio backing track or sound effects to enhance the emotional connection being portrayed in the language of the story. In all of these instances, the activity has been transformed from just a passive submission of a student’s understanding of the ideas being taught to one that demonstrates the students’ levels on a wide variety of levels.

In all of these examples, the teachers have substituted the traditional learning activities and have added functional improvement that has either allowed the students to demonstrate deeper learning of the content or has allowed them to factor in different elements that were not covered in either the traditional or substituted method. If we look back at the SAMR model infographic shown in figure 1 below, if we want the students to get from one side of the lake to the other, then substitution (the rowboat) options are more than adequate. However if by creating a digital substitution there is the option for us to enhance the learning outcome by augmenting it (Snorkelling their way across the lake, looking what is under the water while they are swimming) and this links directly to the learning outcomes that we want to achieve in our lesson, then why don’t we take it? Either way, by using digital technologies as a substitution or augmentation for the learning, students are able to experience a wider breadth of learning outcomes faster and more economically when compared to their traditional method counterparts.


Augmentation in the Classroom examples

  • Creating digital flyers and brochures that include multimedia as well as student created videos for a geography assessment task.
  • Students create multimedia presentations including audio, video, images, and interactivity for a business management proposal of facility improvements to the school.
  • Students can use screencasting software to annotate and narrate their work to demonstrate their learning as well as creating instructional videos for their peers.

Questions that can drive your integration of the Modification into the learning in the classroom and can spark professional discussions with your colleagues.


What is the learning outcome that you are trying to achieve from this task? Can it be achieved AND extended through modification with a digital tool? Will this create a more engaging & powerful experience?


What output do you expect to see from a student at the end of this learning task? Can the students exceed this output expectation through redesigning and modifying this task with a different digital solution?


How can a redesign and modification of your original learning task to include strong digital learning solutions create positive learning outcome extensions for your lesson?


What are some areas where the traditional method of teaching this lesson that could stretch and extend the students learning? By using a digital learning solution can you redesign the task to take the learning in a brand-new direction that extends the learning experience.


How can I change my thinking around lessons that I have run in the past? Am I able to redesign my lessons so that I can create learning activities that don’t just focus on one learning outcome? How can I use modification to my students’ benefit?