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Alice Keeler

OSAMR Model – When Tech Makes it Worse

OSAMR Model – When Tech Makes it Worse

Hans Tullman OSAMR


The SAMR model is a way to determine the level at which you are using technology.

  • S – Substitution is when you do the same task but with technology.
  • A – Augmentation is when you’re doing the same task but the technology provides some level of improvement. Usually this is an improvement in workflows.
  • M – Modification is when you use technology to do things differently. The technology usage improves the learning outcome.
  • R – Redefinition is when using technology allows you to teach or learn in a new way that previously would have been impossible or nearly impossible.


Looking at how the technology is improving instruction is great but does using technology always mean we are maintaining the status quo or are getting better? What about when technology makes things worse? I asked on Twitter for ideas on what letter we could add to the SAMR model to indicate poor usage of technology. Thank you to @htullmann @jrochelle @mkrclub @UVEIDowney @michellek107 @mikemcsharry for their ideas.

@ButtonBashing came up with what I thought was a great answer.

“OSAMR. Obstruction: Poor quality tools or wrong choice of tool can get in the way of learning.”




I am sickened when I hear educators say they can NOT do something they feel is best for kids because the gradebook or the technology does not allow for it. Sometimes technology is forced on teachers which causes them to do extra work, spend extra time and at times feel like pulling all of their hair out. I timed it one time, it took me SEVEN MINUTES to enter a score for one student before I was able to enter the score for another student. Between the poor design of the gradebook and the bandwidth issues, giving students meaningful feedback was difficult. Another example is where the gradebook only allows you to enter a code for a comment to a student. This is almost worse than not giving feedback at all. The comment is not personal and it requires the student to look up the code in the legend. Frequently I share with teachers on gamification ideas. Most teachers are extremely excited about these ideas until they realize “how am I going to put this in the gradebook?”

I have seen some administrators include a teachers use of the SmartBoard (or fill in the blank technology) in the lesson evaluation. This does not take into account if the SmartBoard was the right tool for that lesson. The thinking is that a lot of money was spent on the technology so it should be used. Financial expenditures should not outrank student needs, engagement and learning. One of the ideas of the SAMR model is to examine our technology usage to ensure that technology is enhancing the student experience. If the focus is not on how students benefit what is the point?

When evaluating technology usage on the SAMR model, I propose that the Obstruction level needs to be added. When does technology hinder productivity or learning?


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Thank you to Hans Tullmann for creating the OSAMR image.


2 thoughts on “OSAMR Model – When Tech Makes it Worse

  1. Sounds like part of the problem is poor choice of technology and insisting that it is then used by everyone! Staff need flexibility in choosing best tools, analogue or digital.

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