Digital Learning Framework
20 Digital Capabilities
LITS helps students integrate digital capabilities—knowledge, skills, and experience that can be applied to a professional or creative endeavor—into their individual learning plans through hands-on experiences in digitally rich environments. The framework's twenty capabilities are organized around five mindsets, or “ways of thinking” with and about technology.
The algorithmic thinking mindset is about automating. It employs step-by-step instructions informed by conditional statements, loops, and logic to complete and combine discrete tasks. The digital capabilities associated with algorithmic thinking include:
- Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence leverages computers and machines to mimic the problem-solving and decision-making capabilities of the human mind.
Coding uses programming languages for communicating instructions to computers on what actions to perform and commands to carry out.
- Computational Thinking
Computational thinking is the thought processes involved in formulating a problem and expressing its solution(s) in such a way that a computer—human or machine—can effectively carry it out.
- Human-Computer Interaction
Human-computer interaction is a multidisciplinary field of study focusing on the interface between human users and computer technology.
The analytic thinking mindset is about analyzing. It derives knowledge through collecting, organizing, evaluating, querying, and interpreting data and information. Digital capabilities associated with analytic thinking include:
- Data Analysis
Data analysis is a process of inspecting, cleansing, transforming, and modeling data with the goal of discovering useful information, informing conclusions, and supporting decision-making.
- Digital Curation
Digital curation is the active management and enhancement of digital information assets for current and future use.
- Information Literacy
Information literacy is the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.
- Spatial Analysis
Spatial analysis is the process of examining the locations, attributes, and relationships of features in spatial data through overlay and other analytic techniques to address a question or gain useful knowledge.
The expressive thinking mindset is about communicating. It uses digital technologies to share ideas or experiences, convey information in engaging ways, and imagine alternative representations of reality. Digital capabilities associated with expressive thinking include:
- 3D Modeling
Three dimensional modeling is the process of creating representations of any surface or object by manipulating polygons, edges, and vertices in simulated 3D space.
- Audio and Video Production
Audio and video production is the process of planning, recording, and editing sound and images to create a unified work.
- Extended Reality
Extended reality (XR) is an umbrella term used to describe immersive technologies employed in augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality to merge the physical and virtual worlds.
- Graphic Design and Visualization
Graphic design and visualization communicate information through the arrangement of lines, shapes, colors, text, and images.
The innovative thinking mindset is about reimagining. It employs the design process and new digital technologies to reconceive how we go about our work and reimagine what is possible. Digital capabilities associated with innovative thinking include:
- Design Thinking
Design thinking re-frames complex or ill-defined problems in user-centric ways through collaborative brainstorming, rapid prototyping and testing, and iterative development.
Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of novel opportunities that relies on inventiveness, creativity, and persuasiveness in the face of scarce resources.
- Inclusive Design
Inclusive design embraces the full range of human diversity with respect to ability, language, culture, gender, age and other forms of human difference in its design processes and outcomes.
- Learning Design
Learning design focuses on the educational experiences of learners—who they are, what they know, how they think, and how to reach them effectively—and explores the interconnectedness of learning, teaching, and technology.
The network thinking mindset is about contextualizing. It explores the interplay between technologies, social structures, and individuals. Digital capabilities associated with network thinking include:
- Cybersecurity and Privacy
Cybersecurity involves preventing, detecting, and responding to digital threats to critical systems and sensitive information in order to combat potentially damaging attacks on individuals, organizations, and governments.
- Digital Self-Determination
Digital self-determination is concerned with the power of individuals to define their identities, control and make meaningful choices about their data, and engage with others in governing the quality and ethical use of communal data.
- Information Ecologies
Information ecologies are systems of people, practices, technologies, and values in local environments.
- Technology and Culture
Technology and culture draws on scholarship from diverse disciplines to explore the dynamic relationship between technology (the application of knowledge, methods, techniques and instruments to practical purposes) and other aspects of culture (the learned complex of knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, and custom).
Encounter level learning experiences are about acquiring understanding.
Engage level learning experiences are about developing capabilities.
- Course assignments
- Learning modules
Extend level learning experiences are about demonstrating fluency.
- Capstone projects
Intellectual Curiosity and Flexibility — examining facts, phenomena and issues in depth, and from a variety of perspectives, and having the courage to revise beliefs and outlooks in light of new evidence
Analytic Discernment — analyzing information, patterns, connections, arguments, ideas, and views quantitatively and symbolically
Aesthetic Discernment — evaluating quality and value in a variety of artistic and other intellectual domains
Disciplinary Practice — engaging in the focused and sustained practice of disciplinary techniques and methodologies in order to acquire mastery of a specific ability or craft
Creativity — imagining and developing original ideas, approaches, works and interpretations, and solving problems resourcefully
Communication and Expression — expressing oneself with clarity and eloquence, in both traditional and contemporary media, through writing and speaking, and through visual, aural, gestural and other modalities
Understanding of Cultural Diversity — critically engaging with multiple cultural traditions and perspectives, and with interpersonal situations that enhance understanding of different identities and foster the ability to work and live productively and harmoniously with others
Ethical, Informed and Engaged Citizenship — developing an awareness of the challenges and responsibilities of local, national and global citizenship, and the ability to meet such challenges and fulfill such responsibilities by exercising sound and informed judgment in accordance with just principles
See the Hamilton College Educational Goals and Curriculum page for additional information.
Hamilton’s digital learning framework is informed by:
Jisc, Digital Capability Framework (2017)
Jisc. "Building Digital Capabilities: The Six Elements Defined." Bristol, UK: Joint Information Systems Committee, 2017.
European Union, DigComp (2017)
Carretero, Stephanie, Riina Vuorikari, and Yves Punie. DigComp 2.1: The Digital Competence Framework for Citizens with Eight Proficiency Levels and Examples of Use. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2017.
Bryn Mawr, Digital Competencies (2016)
Bryn Mawr College. "What Are Digital Competencies." 2016.
Douglas Belshaw, Essential Elements of Digital Literacies (2014)
Belshaw, Douglas A. J. The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies, 2014. Revised version of What is Digital Literacy? A Pragmatic Investigation. Ed.D. diss., Durham University, 2011.
Working definitions for the framework’s twenty capabilities were derived (sometimes verbatim) using phrases and concepts from the following sources:
Slick, Justin. “What is 3D Modeling?” Lifewire. September 24, 2020. https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-3d-modeling-2164.
IBM. “What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?” IBM Cloud Learn Hub. June 3, 2020. https://www.ibm.com/cloud/learn/what-is-artificial-intelligence.
Techslang. “What is Coding?” IT Glossary. https://www.techslang.com/definition/what-is-coding.
Wing, Jeanette, M. “Computational Thinking Benefits Society.” Social Issues in Computing 40th Anniversary Blog. January 10, 2014. http://socialissues.cs.toronto.edu/index.html%3Fp=279.html.
Cybersecurity and Privacy
“Cybersecurity.” Ready.gov. Last updated February 25, 2022. https://www.ready.gov/cybersecurity.
Brown, Meta S. “Transforming Unstructured Data into Useful Information.” In Big Data, Mining, and Analytics, edited by Stephan Kudyba, 211-30. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2014.
National Research Council. Preparing the Workforce for Digital Curation. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK293663.
Interaction Design Foundation. “Design Thinking.” https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/topics/design-thinking.
Remolina, Nydia, and Mark Findlay. “The Paths to Digital Self-Determination - A Foundational Theoretical Framework.” SMU Centre for AI & Data Governance Research Paper 3 (April 22, 2021). http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3831726.
Eisenmann, Tom. “Entrepreneurship: A Working Definition.” Harvard Business Review. January 10, 2013. https://hbr.org/2013/01/what-is-entrepreneurship.
Extended Reality (XR)
Marr, Bernard. “What is Extended Reality Technology? A Simple Explanation for Anyone.” Forbes. August 12, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2019/08/12/what-is-extended-reality-technology-a-simple-explanation-for-anyone/?sh=2ff891fb7249.
Interaction Design Foundation. “Human-Computer Interaction.” https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/topics/human-computer-interaction.
Inclusive Design Research Centre. “What Is Inclusive Design?” OCAD University. https://legacy.idrc.ocadu.ca/about-the-idrc/49-resources/online-resources/articles-and-papers/443-whatisinclusivedesign.
Nardi, Bonnie A., and Vicki O’Day. Information Ecologies: Using Technology with Heart. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000.
ACRL. “Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.” 2016. https://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework.
“About.” Hybrid Pedagogy: The Journal of Critical Digital Pedagogy. https://hybridpedagogy.org/about.
Smart Sparrow. “What is Learning Design?” https://www.smartsparrow.com/what-is-learning-design.
Esri. “Essential Spatial Analyst Terms.” ArcMap 10.8. 2021. https://desktop.arcgis.com/en/arcmap/latest/extensions/spatial-analyst/essential-spatial-analyst-terms.htm.
Technology and Culture
“Technology.” In NAL Agricultural Thesaurus and Glossary. U.S. Department of Agriculture, n.d. https://agclass.nal.usda.gov/mtwdk.exe?s=1&n=1&y=0&l=60&k=glossary&t=2&w=technology.
“Culture.” In A Dictionary of Sociology, 4th, ed., edited by John Scott. Oxford University Press, 2014.