A Guide to Getting Started with SAMR and Quintet

Nov. 24, 2021

How do you put SAMR and Quintet into action? This article presents two approaches: asking questions and charting sample transformations.

A faculty is planning the beginning of a new semester on his desk.

A Guide to Getting Started with SAMR and Quintet

Technology offers avenues for creatively solving some of our greatest course design challenges. From clarifying misunderstood concepts, to increasing student-to-student interactions, and deepening student engagement, technology-based solutions abound. However, adopting technology does not inherently transform learning. Transformation requires educators to focus on the intersection between (1) the affordances offered by a given technology, and (2) the desired enhancements to an activity or assessment (Puentedura, 2021). This is embodied in SAMR and EdTech Quintet - two models by Ruben Puentedura, Ph.D., that frame the meaningful use of technology in education. These frameworks provide clarity on what transformation looks like, and how transformation can be achieved, but knowing where to begin this process of meaningful tech integration can, at times, be elusive.

In this article we offer two innovative ways to approach Redefining and Modifying course activities. We begin with asking questions, providing examples for each of the five Quintet practices, followed by a chart of sample assignments with potential modifications and redefinitions. Let’s get started!

Ask Questions

“We may not know what that answer is, but we know that we have to give ourselves permission to explore.”
-Patrice Martin, Co-Lead and Creative Director at IDEO.org

The decision to redesign a course activity or assignment is typically predicated on a problem defined by its symptoms - i.e. scores on an assessment are lower than expected, there are copious questions about a specific topic, a discussion prompt fails to elicit the anticipated level of engagement. Rather than focusing on symptoms of the problem, the goal is to refocus on innovative solutions. One way to accomplish this is by framing questions based on the categories of the EdTech Quintet and phrased as a  “How Might X” question (i.e. how might I..., how might students..., how might one...) as shown in the list below. This framing encourages innovative thinking by acknowledging that a solution is possible, while not prescribing a particular course of action. It also offers the opportunity to modify and redefine activities and assessments by introducing creative constraints.


Communication, Collaboration, Sharing

  • How might students share their work and/or offer/solicit feedback from their colleagues?

  • How might students publish their work for a wider, more diverse audience?

  • How might I create opportunities for students to collaborate on my course documents (i.e. Syllabus, written lectures)?


Anytime anyplace learning and creation

  • How might students access the content (work on the assignment) if they are on a train? In a car? On a plane?

  • How might students engage with content if they can’t hear? Can’t see?

  • How might I provide choices and options for how students complete and/or submit assignments, avoiding assumptions about access?


Making abstract concepts tangible

  • How might I explain a concept without words, using images?

  • How might students explain a concept or complete an assignment using images?

  • How might one complete instructions for a task in a visual format?


Knowledge integration and transmission

  • How might creating for different audiences change the way students tell a story (approach an assignment)?

  • How might students retell or reframe the original idea/concept/story?

  • How might students create a story for a mathematical problem?


Feedback loops and formative assessment

  • How might I leverage automatic responses to provide students with multiple opportunities to check their understanding?

  • How might I structure an assessment so that students provide feedback (quantitative or qualitative) to each other?

  • How might role-play help or hinder a discussion or problem solving?

Explore New Contexts

“To get a fresh perspective on your research, shift your focus to a new context.”

Transforming an online course and redefining activities and assignments through technology, will require educators to follow their intuition and  take a creative leap of faith. Rather than focusing on the parameters of the identified challenge, try thinking in terms of analogous experiences. While at first it may seem disparate, examining videos on TikTok when trying to redesign a lecture, may unlock a unique idea for creating engaging course videos. The following table outlines just a few examples of how one might examine common course tasks from the analogous context of the EdTech Quintet, and how that might lead to modification and redesign of activities. Also included are just a few of the tools that might support this type of transformation. Remember, when thinking about the Quintet, the goal is to think broadly - analogous to tasks common to the education system - in order to identify elements of an experience, interaction, or product, that may be applied to the course-specific challenge at hand.

*Note: In mobile and smaller screens, scroll horizontally <-->to view the contents of the table.

Sample Task/Assignment




Relevant Applications

Read and respond to article

Social - Communication


Use social annotation to engage in group discussion

Write a 280 character social media post response or journal entry

Perusall, Hypothes.is Adobe Spark

Observe and record observations - Field based assignment

Mobility - Anywhere

Working with a partner collaborate on observation notes

Create an image gallery of the experience

Google apps, phone recorder, Adobe Spark, Arduino Science Journal

Presentation on a topic or theory

Visualization - Mapping

Collaborative mind mapping

Publish an infographic for a specific audience

Google Jamboard, Padlet, Miro, Canva, Adobe Spark

Listen to and interact with lectures

Storytelling - Audio

Create a video answering an essential question related to topic or theory.

Record a podcast and explain one of the lecture topics

VoiceThread, Adobe Audition, Audacity,

Debate an issue


Debate using discussion tool or create a role play

Build a simple digital game around a debatable topic

Kailo, Scratch , Twine, VoiceThread


Kirkwood, Adrian, and Linda Price. "Missing: evidence of a scholarly approach to teaching and learning with technology in higher education." Teaching in Higher Education, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 327–337. https://doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2013.773419

"Methods." Design Kit, IDEO.ORG, https://www.designkit.org/methods.

"Mindsets." Design Kit, IDEO.ORG, https://www.designkit.org/mindsets.

Terada, Youki. "A Powerful Model for Understanding Good Tech Integration." Edutopia, 2020,

Walsh, Kelly. "8 Examples of Transforming Lessons Through the SAMR Cycle." EmergingEdTech, 2015,

Authored By

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Lisa Howells (Guest Author)
Former Instructional Designer II, Digital Learning