EdTech Theory and Frameworks

Monterey County Office of Education

Leadership, Support and Service to Prepare All Students for Success

Dr. Deneen Guss, County Superintendent of Schools

EdTech Theory and Frameworks

There are a few EdTech Frameworks that are common parlance in the Educational Technology world. They are used to help guide discussions about the sophistication and depth of how technology is integrated into the classroom. Below are some of the common frameworks plus some of our own thinking here at MCOE. If you feel like there is something missing, fill out our missing content form at the end of this page.

  • The SAMR Model
  • The TPACK Model
  • The Balanced EdTech Model (Original Framework from MCOE)

The SAMR Model

The SAMR model is probably the most often referenced framework in EdTech. It seeks to guide how sophisticated and integrated technology is used in the classroom. It divides that level of integration into four levels: Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. The model is further divided into two halves, enhancement and transformation. The general idea is that it is more desirable to be in the transformation half.

Theory developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura.

SAMR Model
LevelDefinitionExampleFunctional Change
SubstitutionComputer technology is used to perform the same task as was done before the use of computers.Students print out worksheet, finish it, pass it in.No functional change in teaching and learning. There may well be times when this the appropriate level of work as there is no real gain to be had from computer technology. One needs to decide computer use based on any other possible benefits. This area tends to be teacher centric where the instructor is guiding all aspects of a lesson.
AugmentationComputer Technology offers an effective tool to perform common tasks.Students take a quiz using a Google Form instead of using pencil and paper.There is some functional benefit here in that paper is being saved, students and teacher can receive almost immediate feedback on student level of understanding of material. This level starts to move along the teacher / student centric continuum. The impact of immediate feedback is that students may begin to become more engaged in learning.
ModificationThis is the first step over the line between enhancing the traditional goings-on of the classroom and transforming the classroom. Common classroom tasks are being accomplished through the use of computer technology.Students are asked to write an essay around the theme "And This I Believe...". An audio recording of the essay is made along with an original musical soundtrack. The recording will be played in front of an authentic audience such as parents, or college admission counselors.There is significant functional change in the classroom. While all students are learning similar writing skills, the reality of an authentic audience gives each student has a personal stake in the quality of the work. Computer technology is necessary for this classroom to function allowing peer and teacher feedback, easy rewriting, and audio recording. Questions about writing skills increasingly come from the students themselves.
RedefinitionComputer technology allows for new tasks that were previously inconceivable.A classroom is asked to create a documentary video answering an essential question related to important concepts. Teams of students take on different subtopics and collaborate to create one final product. Teams are expected to contact outside sources for information.At this level, common classroom tasks and computer technology exist not as ends but as supports for student centered learning. Students learn content and skills in support of important concepts as they pursue the challenge of creating a professional quality video. Collaboration becomes necessary and technology allows such communications to occur. Questions and discussion are increasingly student generated.

The TPACK Model

The TPACK model is used to help demonstrate the necessary skillset that teachers need to effectively create a lesson with technology woven into it. It centers around the idea that effective technology integration requires the teacher be proficient in three different areas: Technological Knowledge, Pedagogical Knowledge, and Content Knowledge. This model can be used to target professional development needs for a teacher who may be weaker in one area versus another.


The Balanced EdTech Integration Model

This model was developed by Jonathan Green, former Educational Technology Coordinator, here at MCOE to help answer the question, "What does Common Core Technology Integration look like?" This framework takes the position that Common Core technology integration is no different from any other technology integration. Technology should be used as a tool to enhance the student learning objective, whether it is Common Core or not. According to the framework, there are four different domains of technology enhancement:

  1. Collaboration and Communication
    Collaboration and Communication are tools that facilitate dialog between the students and between the class and the teacher. Technology makes these things easier such as via an Learning Management System like Google Classroom or through video chats on WebX.

  2. Access
    Access focuses on giving students ways to find and experience learning. Technology gives students more access to sources of information (archives or virtual tours), access to people (pen-pals or experts), and access to the home and community (text messages, parent portals, websites).

  3. Ephemeral
    The Ephemeral is the flashy pizazz of technology: things that can awe students and inspire learning. These are things like virtual star maps on smartphones, augmented reality, or 3D design of roller coasters. They also, however, tend to be short lived and have a more narrow use.

  4. Individualization
    Lastly, individualization focuses on more easily differentiating assignments. Technology is very efficient at giving targeted activities for different students. Varied assignments, interventions, and make-up activities are all enhanced and make the learning process easier for teachers, students, and parents.

Unfortunately, educators often get lost in the flashy apps and activities found in the Ephemeral and Access categories. Full technology integration needs to allow technology to enhance in all four domains. As a result, educators must focus on how they use the tools as well:

  1. Everyday Tools
    Everyday tools are things like Learning Management Systems (Showbie, Edmodo, etc.) that are used everyday to give structure and routine to the passing of information between the teacher and the student.

  2. One-Off Tools
    One-off tools are things that are used once (or a few times) and are discarded after that because of their limited use. These are often hooks for a unit or a short activity.

  3. Project Based Tools
    Project Based Tools are tools that have specific uses but are more complex. These projects require the tool to be learned by the student and then used to complete the activity. The tool may or may not be used again. These are things like iMovie or pinhole cameras.

In the end, the goal is to achieve a balance between these categories by carefully mapping out the tools educators use:

Balanced EdTech Integration Model



Denise Green

Educational Administrator
Phone: 831.784.4113

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