Digital Thinking

digital thinking from left of field

Critical digital thinking

About this research

This research project examines how different approaches to learning, teaching and assessment (LTA) develop students as critical subjects, in curriculum settings that are increasingly defined by digital methods and platforms. Critical students think for themselves. They are discriminating about what and who they believe, and about what digital platforms and tools they adopt. They take up positions that may be different to the ones they are offered by the curriculum, by the organisation they are studying in, by other people in their networks.

Digital tools offer new opportunities for students to develop critical skills and positions. At the same time, digital media make some kinds of criticism more problematic, while society’s digital turn makes new forms of critique more necessary. And different subject areas provide students with different resources for making sense of the digital environment, and of our digital society, economy, and political life.

A goal of the research is to develop a definition of ‘critical digital capability’, sensitive to different contexts. This will be enriched with examples from a wide range of subject areas and settings.

The research is being taken forward through a review of relevant literatures, through interviews, and by investigating examples. Educators and students will be encouraged to describe their beliefs, intentions and experiences when they engage in LTA activities, and to reflect on what ‘critical‘ and ‘digital‘ mean to them.

The working title for the final report/thesis is Resistance and resilience: developing critical digital capability in the HE curriculum

The aims are:

  1. To produce a rich, context-sensitive definition of ‘critical digital capability’;
  2. To populate this definition with examples from a review of existing literature;
  3. To produce a significant number of new, evaluated examples across different subject areas and institutions;
  4. Through interviews with teachers and students, to refine the definition and conceptual framework;
  5. To analyse the relationships among teacher and student conceptions, learning interventions, and student responses, that could support future research or educational interventions in this area.

You can read some background to the research here.

Articles and chapters in draft will appear here.

You can also browse recent blog posts with a critical digital tag.


I’m looking for educators to explore with me how your students develop critical responses to the issues that digital technologies raise in your subject area. These issues may involve new methods (e.g. design, data analysis, coding, use of video, working with information), new content knowledge in your subject area, or new social and ethical challenges. How you define both ‘critical responses‘ and ‘digital issues‘ is an important part of my enquiry.

If you are interested please:

Read this information for participants and co-researchers about my research approach and how we might work together.

Contact me using this form, by email, or on twitter. Start a conversation! I’m sure it will be an interesting one…

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