Is SAMR a bad model? You betcha! Time for the P-RAR model

30 Sep
Is SAMR a bad model? You betcha! Time for the P-RAR model

First, I have to hand it to Dr. Ruben Puentedura that he was onto something with his SAMR model.  He just needed to get rid of the ambiguity and add an item that is missing.  Let’s look at his model to see what I am talking about:

It seems simple enough.  I have seen it applied.  I have even seen some convincing people talk about the model like it makes sense.  But every time I get down to it, there is definite unclarity when it comes to the difference between the Augmentation and Modification sections.  I have seen time wasted, and even arguments over where a certain type of technology implementation should fit using this model’s guidelines.  In search of creating a new model, I stumbled upon someone who already did — Hughes et al’s (2006) RAT or TAR model, as shown below:

It is more simple and elegant because it replaces the ambiguity with an effective clear model.  I suppose that it hasn’t caught on because of the names though.  And although it is elegant, I still have a gripe with this model.  While there can be replacement, amplification, and transformation, it is missing what I see all too often and that is a level above Replacement (in RAT) or below Substitution (in SAMR) that would indicate bad substitution or poor replacement.

I see educators using the latest, greatest thing that is just not that. They employ fads and gimmicks – something that might wow the people for a flash in time, but that is actually detracting from the task at hand and inevitably the learning.  An example of this might be using a handwriting app on the iPad.  Sure it is replacement, but it is BAD REPLACEMENT.  Handwriting should be done with a pencil (a real one) or pen and paper.  The texture, the cost, the simplicity of using traditional methods makes this the best solution.  Why are we trying to use technology in this case?

Therefore, I might argue that we use a combination of the models with the necessary add-on and call it the RARP or P-RAR model.  The same definitions apply for the top three sections.  The new addition – POOR SUBSTITUTION — speaks for itself:

PRAR or RARP model

P-RAR or RARP model

One will notice the colors in the model have meaning now as well.

RED means don’t do it.

YELLOW is cautionary, which should indicate that an employer of technology should ask themselves if their course of action is the best way to go.

LIGHT-GREEN is for go.  Do it.  It will enhance learning and the learner.

DARK-GREEN is for go as well — only with enthusiasm.

I will be coming back to this model with more ideas and revisions as time goes on.  For now, write your thoughts about the P-RAR model in the comments.


Posted by on September 30, 2015 in Technology


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6 responses to “Is SAMR a bad model? You betcha! Time for the P-RAR model


    October 2, 2018 at 7:18 am

    I liked the idea of the SAMR-model as a swimming pool. You never are only in the green sector once you have succeeded to get there. In other situations you move on substition levels developing your lesson planning. And that’s fine. What about poor augmentation? Is there something like poor redifinition?

    • | Tom Johnson

      January 23, 2022 at 10:50 am

      Poor redefinition – of course. Again, anything can be done well or poorly. I think it is most important to match the tech with the goals of learning, teaching, and what will best enable learner creation or presentation.

  2. Brian Heyward

    June 29, 2021 at 10:27 pm

    I completely agree with the non use of SAMR, though its because the supposed background information offered by Puentedura doesn’t seem to have any peer-reviewed research. Over the last couple of years, I have looked for peer-reviewed research supporting Puentedura’s model, but he offers nothing. I don’t seem to be the only one. I like RAT because it does offer some research, but I don’t like treating the frameworks solely as a hierarchy. I understand the connection to Bloom and HOTS, but there is a need for replication/substitution in some cases. Technology use and integration doesn’t always put the technology at the forefront. Sometimes it is ancillary to the content. I don’t care for RARP and its poor use of the colors. If poor substitution is necessary, then the argument that good substitution must exists. If so, where is it represented in the model?

    • | Tom Johnson

      January 23, 2022 at 10:48 am

      When you say, “Technology use and integration doesn’t always put the technology at the forefront” I tend to agree. In fact, I find that I sometimes want to (dis)integrate technology when it is not being used properly or should not be employed at all. Thanks for the comment and all of those other theories to examine.

  3. educationrickshaw

    November 30, 2021 at 9:33 pm

    Hey Tom,
    Finally got around to reading this haha. I agree the revised model is better. What I’m starting to realize, however, is that SAMR and similar models are a solution to a problem that no practitioner has. Teachers don’t need a description of the categories of possible edtech integration, they require prescriptions/recommendations for technology integration; When does technology help, when does it hinder, when does it make little difference which medium you use? All of these are answered with the same sentence: Always match (pre-tested) technologies to the goal of your instruction. A worse problem than it being unhelpful is when teachers incorrectly assume that we should be aiming for the top category of the model, a misconception that extends to Bloom’s Taxonomy. Like Bloom’s, the choice to integrate technology shouldn’t be based on a so-called “higher order” categorization, but, again, on the goal of the instruction. I suspect the field has realized its inutility without articulating it, because it seems people are quiet on the SAMR front these days.

    Hope all is well,

    • | Tom Johnson

      January 23, 2022 at 10:45 am

      Totally Agree Dr. Zach. I especially think it is important to, “Always match (pre-tested) technologies to the goal of your instruction” as you have stated.


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