The Impact of Technology on ELT: SAMR
Educational Technology

The Impact of Technology on ELT: SAMR

Every discussion about teaching gets back to the same fundamental: how can we learn? And even more, how can we learn better?

SAMR takes technology in the classroom and attempts to scaffold its use in terms of what it offers to learning. Measuring the impact of technology in the ELT classroom helps define the extent to which digital tools and devices improve instruction or simply substitute conventional teaching—with the result and the process remaining unchanged.

SAMR is a benchmarking tool against the available technology for learning and teaching: it defines the objectives technology achieves and assesses its usefulness in the classroom.

What is SAMR, anyway?

SAMR stands for substitution, augmentation, modification and redefinition. Visualised as a spectrum instead of a ladder, SAMR gauges the extent to which digital technology alters the learning experience by enhancing or transforming it.

In the first two categories of the SAMR model, substitution and augmentation, technology enhances traditional instruction and learning. Both processes augment or substitute the classroom experience—but they don't radically alter it.

With modification and redefinition, new tasks become possible thanks to technology. If your classroom activities modify or entirely redefine the learning experience, then your class's journey toward digital transformation has begun.

Read more to explore the ways through which we can enhance or transform learning through the use of digital tools and devices!

The impact of technology on your ELT class: Enhancement

Substitution in your ELT class

We substitute conventional processes with technology when we or our students:

•  type instead of handwriting or read material on-screen

•  submit homework and share worksheets digitally or watch a video after missing class

•  use a digital interactive whiteboard as opposed to a traditional whiteboard

Scenario 1.1: You want your students to work on a follow-up project on sports. You ask students to read the class material online, create a digital presentation and then send their work through the cloud.

Scenario 1.2:  You have been working on #English, and it's time to revise the target language through the CodeCrackers' storyline. Instead of using a printed map or atlas, use Google Maps to track the CodeCrackers' journey to Pompei, the Versailles and London.

Ask yourself: What will I gain by replacing conventional instruction with new technology?

There is no wrong positioning in the SAMR spectrum: sometimes, substitution is the best way to achieve the lesson's objectives.

Augmentation in your ELT class

We augment conventional processes with technology when we or our students:

• give presentations using multimedia

• research a topic online

• watch videos that supplement instruction

• track progress through data-driven performance reports 

Scenario 2.1: Instead of a presentation, students create a podcast on sports. In addition to the steps of the previous scenario, learners search online for more information and watch supplementary videos. After gathering the information they need, they filter it and then work on their podcast script.

When students receive guidance on how to research a topic online, technology augments learning. Encourage them to explore diverse resources, question their findings, and put together information in a cohesive manner. Instead of simply asking learners to google the topic, help them adopt the right angle and provide guidance on how to search online. Instruct learners to search and merge multiple sub-topics, such as the benefits of sports on our mental health and the ways we can save up time to invest in sports. 

[caption id="attachment_7756" align="aligncenter" width="940"]In 4Minds A1, Unit (page 98), students learn more about sports by completing an ICT research activity and recording a podcast. Flip through the pages of 4Minds and learn more about the series (CEFR levels A1-C1/2).

In 4Minds A1, page 98, students learn more about sports by completing an ICT research activity and recording a podcast. Flip through the pages of 4Minds and learn more about the series (CEFR levels A1-C1/2).[/caption]

Scenario 2.2:  Ask your students to pin the places the CodeCrackers' have visited, learn more about the history of each location online, and add descriptions to their Google Earth pins. 

Before moving on, ask yourself:

Have I added a feature to the task process that would be impossible to include on a tech-free basis?

In our podcast scenario, augmentation is meaningful: students get a short audio project on the topic you've been working on. They can come up with their script, choose their equipment, use background music and let their creativity unfold throughout the process! Start small and encourage them to voice their opinions and concerns!

Express DigiBooks enhance conventional processes: you assign homework online, students submit their work, and you grade their input on-platform. At the same time, writing, text-based and grammar videos offer multimodal learning opportunities, facilitate asynchronous learning, and help students stay on-task longer.

The impact of technology on your ELT class: Transformation

Modification in your ELT class

We modify conventional processes through technology when we or our students:

• share our work and have peers review and comment on it online

• create video presentations and accompany them with visual elements

• use technology to visualise hard-to-grasp concepts and ideas

Scenario 3.1: Additionally to the steps in Scenario 2.1, have students form groups and work on their script on Google Docs or Google Classroom. Students can now create, collaborate, and communicate throughout the task, as they can add feedback, suggest edits and work on the document simultaneously. 

Scenario 3.2: Move beyond the steps in scenario 3.1 and have students put their presentations on Google Classroom so they can write reflections, post comments, and give peer reviews. Finally, merge all the presentations to create an interactive map of the CodeCrackers' journey.

Before moving on, ask yourself:

How does this modification contribute to my lesson? Does technology help me achieve my lesson objectives?

Redefinition in your ELT class

We redefine conventional processes through technology when we or our students:

• connect with other learners around the world and publish work online where it can be viewed by peers

• record ourselves delivering a presentation and assess our work based on the recording

• experiment with multimedia or exploit the potential of other digital tools and platforms 

Scenario 4.1: Additionally to the steps mentioned in Scenario 3.1, students upload their final podcasts on Google Classroom and create QR codes which they then stick around the school. Create rubrics for their performance and let them review each other against the criteria.

Scenario 4.2:  Students use Skype in the Classroom to meet live with other learners from the selected cities/areas or meet educators and museum professionals that work on the places' history and ask them questions and fan facts.

Before moving on, ask yourself:

What is the new task? Does it replace older tasks?

Does technology help me achieve my lesson objectives or does technology enable me to add to my lesson objectives?

What is the impact of technology on your ELT class? Scaffold it with SAMR and let us know! 


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