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3 Digital technologies for online teaching

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Figure 3 The SAMR model

This section of Week 3 gives an overview of the possible technologies available in an online education setting and the ways in which they can support and influence teaching and learning.

The SAMR model categorises four ways in which the introduction of technology changes teaching activity (Puentedura, 2017):

  • Substitution: Technology is used as a direct substitute for what was done in the past, with no functional change.
  • Augmentation: Technology is a direct substitute, but there is functional improvement over what was done without the technology.
  • Modification: Technology makes it possible to redesign the task significantly.
  • Redefinition: Technology makes it possible to do things that were previously not possible.

As Figure 3.4 shows, the first two ways of using technology for online education can lead to an enhancement of the teaching practice and potentially the learning experience, while the other two ways (modification and redefinition) lead to transformation of the teaching practice.

There has been substantial debate about the value of, and evidence for, the SAMR model (for example Love, 2015). However, the model has achieved some popularity among researchers and practitioners. Here, it is used as a way to categorise four ways in which technology can be introduced into online education. If you have time, you may wish to explore some of the discussions about the value of this model, starting by following the references in brackets above (full versions of references are provided at the end of each week).

The following sections describe different groups of tools that are commonly used in online education.