Ruben Puentedura
Ruben Puentedura

Ruben Puentedura's interest in teaching and technology has been a lifelong work, with a strong foundation built from his six years spent as a teaching fellow at Harvard University, and twelve years on the faculty at Bennington College. At Harvard, Puentedura focused his efforts on educational reform and research, helping to develop new introductory science courses, broadening the depth of scientific inquiry for both majors and non-majors interested in these courses. His efforts led to a Phi Beta Kappa award in 1991 for his chemistry teaching, an award handed out to distinguished teachers by Harvard undergraduates. Puentedura's use of technology in the classroom also led to him being named a Harvard Technology Fellow. At Bennington College, Puentedura utilized new media, networking software, and other technologies to reinvigorate his curriculum. His work was again recognized, with him being named Director of the College's New Media Center, holding that position for nine years.

In 2003, with his extensive experience in teaching, technology, research and administrative work, Puentedura began Hippasus , a consulting firm offering innovative technological and pedagogical support and services to educational institutions. Through Hippasus, Puentedura offers flexible frameworks for learning, as well as professional development courses for educators and business managers alike in the transition to technology-based learning. This consulting work, and continued research in education, led to the development of the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) Model of teaching and technology integration in 2013. The SAMR Model's significance has led to its adoption as the primary format for education at the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, as well as projects in Vermont and Sweden.

Puentedura's efforts in the fields of technology and education have led to an increasingly broader focus on a variety of topics, including digital storytelling, educational gaming, and learning analytics. He has continued promoting the SAMR Model, as well as the similarly formatted TPACK Model, in his public speaking and educational presentations. Puentedura currently operates his own educational blog where he documents his slideshows and experiences from various conferences and speaking events, and his progress in his educational research.

SAMR Model

The hierarchical SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) Model by Puentedura appears to be, at face value, a straightforward and simplistic structure to adopt in the classroom. The Model follows a transition for technological adoption in education which, Puentedura believes, most educators follow when first introducing technology to their students. The SAMR Model increases significantly in complexity from substitution to redefinition:
  • Substitution: At the substitution stage of the Model, technology has been introduced into the classroom, but as a direct substitution for more traditional educational tools, activities, and teaching. There has been no change in either the process or end results through technology's inclusion at this early stage, and the benefits and results for students are negligible. A frequently cited example of the substitution stage include writing essays or assignments on the computer, as opposed to pen and paper.
  • Augmentation: The augmentation stage of the SAMR Model is similar to the previous level of technology adoption, with technological tools and software again acting as a substitute for traditional educational means. However, there is a functional improvement at this level in the teaching, learning, or working process, providing some benefits, though slight, to students. Examples at this stage include student using the spell- and grammar-check functions of word processing software, easing the writing process and improving their potential speed and efficiency.
  • Modification: The modification stage of the Model provides the most significant change in technology adoption in the classroom for both educators and learners. Through modification, the tasks and goals of the classroom are changed through the use of, and access to, technology. This redesign of educational assignments, assessments, and more presents new opportunities for students to analyze their work and their learning process through a technological lens. The use of Google Docs to write documents, allowing for student collaboration and immediate feedback, would be a considerable modification to the learning environment.
  • Redefinition: The final stage of the SAMR Model, redefinition, provides intensive changes and transformative experiences for students and educators, with traditional educational tasks and goals now completely replaced through the incorporation of technology in the classroom. With an understanding of the benefits and possibilities presented by technology, teachers can create new learning tasks, assignments, and assessments strictly based through a digital platform. This offers students new immersive experiences and despite appearing to be a daunting task, Puentedura notes that the redefinition stage ultimately provides positive results in the classroom.

The SAMR Model (L) and Bloom's Taxonomy (R)
The SAMR Model (L) and Bloom's Taxonomy (R)

In his ruminations on the integration model he has developed, Puentedura observes a connection created between the SAMR progression of technology integration and the traditional learning structure of Bloom's Taxonomy. Bloom's Taxonomy follows a hierarchical timeline for questioning in the classroom, from building knowledge through having students remember facts and information, to eventually creating their own products and sources of information. The similarities between the two learning outlines is noted by Puentedura as being a logical pathway for teachers to take, both technologically and educationally, and the parallels of the SAMR Model to Bloom's Taxonomy become notable when both are recognized or incorporated into a classroom. With little technology use, or used simply to substitute or slightly augment traditional learning goals, in the classroom, students and educators will remain in the lower stages of Bloom's framework. When students are granted access to technology, and provided with tasks and goals radically altered through the use of digital platforms and tools, they become able to analyze and evaluate their own work, and their classmates', as well as other information and sources online. At the final stages for both models, teachers and students both become creators, as teachers are able to craft redefined technology-based tasks for their classroom, providing students with the opportunity to create new digital, and educational, artifacts, presentations, and documents.


Curricular Considerations

The SAMR model provides a straightforward timeline for teachers looking to gradually introduce technology into their classroom, with radical changes to the classroom and curriculum not made until the later stages of the framework. Teachers do not necessarily, however, have to follow the transition from substitution through to redefinition; there are a number of factors educators must consider, including the accessibility of technology, the benefits of technology for their students, and their own level of comfort with technological tools. Coupled with the TPACK model, through which teachers can understand the relationships between technology, content, and pedagogy in their classrooms, the SAMR model gauges how significantly the classroom, activities, and students' results will be altered through technology. These two technology integration models can help teachers incorporate digital resources, tools, and online platforms into their classrooms and respective subjects.

Upon reaching the modification and redefinition stages, educators can begin to radically rewrite their lesson plans and curriculum, based around technology's inclusion and integration in the classroom. Teachers need not be limited by older, more traditional, assignments, assessments, and educational activities, or conform to older instructional designs, instead advancing forward and developing new ideas for their classrooms. Puentedura notes that this can be a daunting and overwhelming task for some educators, as well as time-consuming, requiring an understanding of the TPACK model and a particular focus on progressive, digitally-enhanced pedagogies. These efforts and dedication to redefinition, however, have tremendous benefits for students, as technologically redefined curriculums promote student interaction, engagement, and initiative, akin to the skills advocated by Kay and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. At this stage, teachers must realize that technology is no longer a tool to be used within the classroom, but an cohesive part of the instructional design and curriculum.

Extending Questions

  1. Do traditional tasks, learning goals, and educational tools still have a place in the classroom? Or should classrooms and curriculums be completely redefined, provided they have access to technology for educators and students?
  2. Taking Puentedura's claims as true, why have so many teachers, classrooms, and schools remained stagnant at the substitution stage of the SAMR Model? Where does the responsibility lay to progress the classroom further - the educators, the institutions, or the school boards?
  3. What challenges, if any, may students face in transitioning from the substitution stage of the SAMR Model through to the Redefinition stage within their classroom?

Researcher's External Links

iPads and the SAMR Model


NMC Red Archive (2012). Ruben Puentedura, Board Member. Retrieved from
Puentedura, R. (2003, July 15). An Introduction [Web log post]. Retrieved from
Puentedura, R. (2014, September 24). SAMR and Bloom's Taxonomy: Assembling the Puzzle [Web log post]. Retrieved from
Puentedura, R. (2014, November 12). SAMR: First Steps [Presentation slides]. Retrieved from

"For teachers just starting out with educational technology, the task at hand can sometimes seem daunting. Even though tools such as the SAMR model can help, the plethora of choices available can prove paralyzing, frequently resulting in ongoing substitutive uses of the technology that block, rather than enable, more ambitious transformative goals." - Ruben Puentedura