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Mindsets are approaches to knowledge creation and problem solving based on a shared set of assumptions and methods. The framework is organized around five “ways of thinking” with and about digital technology: algorithmic thinkinganalytic thinkingdesign thinkinginventive thinkingnetwork thinking.

Associated with each of these mindsets are focus areas and digital tools:

  • Focus areas coalesce around either a specific digital skill set (i.e., collections of knowledge, abilities, and experience that can be applied to a professional or creative endeavor) or a topic for academic inquiry.
  • Digital tools are software applications or hardware employed in developing a skill set or supporting academic inquiry.

The focus areas and tools featured in the framework are not meant to be comprehensive in their scope. They instead represent a growing list of digital capabilities taught and supported by Hamilton faculty and LITS professionals.


Algorithmic Thinking

Algorithmic thinking is about automating. It employs step-by-step instructions informed by conditional statements, loops, and logic to complete and combine discrete tasks.

Algorithmic ThinkingFocus Areas
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Coding
  • Machine learning
  • Software design
Digital Tools
  • C++
  • Mathematica
  • Python



Analytic Thinking

Analytic thinking is about analysis. It derives knowledge through collecting, organizing, evaluating, querying, and interpreting data and information.

Periodic TableFocus Areas
  • Data analysis
  • Data curation
  • Information literacy
  • Spatial analysis
Digital Tools
  • ArcGIS online
  • bibliographic databases
  • DJI Mavic Pro Platinum
  • DJI Phantom 4 Pro V 2.0
  • Google sheets
  • library discovery systems
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Omeka
  • SPSS
  • Tableau


Design Thinking

Design thinking is about collaborating. It re-frames complex or ill-defined problems in user-centric ways through collaborative brainstorming, rapid prototyping and testing, and iterative development.

Design ThinkingFocus Areas
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Iterative development
  • Project management
  • Rapid prototyping
Digital Tools
  • Google apps
  • task management software


Inventive Thinking

Inventive thinking is about creating. It uses digital technologies to design new things, communicate ideas or experiences, and imagine alternative representations of reality.

Inventive ThinkingFocus Areas
  • 3D modeling
  • Audio and video production
  • Extended reality (XR)
  • Graphic design and visualization
  • Web design
Digital Tools
  • Adobe Audition, Bridge, Illustrator, InDesign, Lightroom, Photoshop, Premiere
  • Apple iMovie, Logic Pro
  • ArcGIS Story Maps
  • Audacity
  • Google apps
  • HP 3D Automatic Turntable Pro
  • HP 3D Structured Light Scanner ProS3
  • HP Sprout G2
  • Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint
  • Oculus Quest
  • Oculus Rift S
  • Omeka
  • Panopto
  • Scalar
  • SketchUp
  • TimelineJS
  • Tinkercad
  • Ultimaker 2
  • Ultimaker 3
  • Unity
  • WordPress


Network Thinking

Network thinking is about contextualizing. It explores the interplay between technologies, social structures, and individuals.

Network ThinkingFocus Areas
  • Cross-cultural interaction
  • Information ecologies
  • Policy and law
  • Technology and culture
Digital Tools
  • bibliographic databases
  • library discovery systems


More about Mindsets

Other digital fluency frameworks employ different categories to suit specific needs and contexts. The definitions created for our mindsets are utilitarian in nature. They are tied to the needs of this particular framework and are not an attempt to apply precisely-defined theoretical constructs from various academic disciplines to our enterprise.

The definitions for algorithmic thinking and design thinking are most closely aligned to common usage. Analytic thinking draws heavily on concepts from the field of data analysis. Inventive thinking likewise draws on concepts related to maker culture. The definition of network thinking is premised on humanities and social science approaches to critically examining the role of technology in human culture.

* The terms “mindsets” and “skill sets” were inspired by Douglas Belshaw’s What is Digital Literacy? A Pragmatic Investigation. Ed.D. diss., (Durham University, 2011). Revised and republished as The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies, 2014. Their meanings as it is used for this particular framework differs significantly from Belshaw, however.

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