Critical Thinking and Problem Solving with Technology

Brief Summary: Critical thinking and problem solving is a crucial skill in a technical world that can immediately be applied to academics and careers. A highly skilled individual in this competency can choose the appropriate tool to accomplish a task, easily switch between tools, has a basic understanding of different file types, and can troubleshoot technology when it’s not working properly. They can also differentiate between true information and falsified information online and has basic proficiency in data gathering, processing and interpretation. 

Learners with proficient skills in critical thinking and problem solving should be able to: 

  • Troubleshoot computers and mobile devices when issues arise, like restarting the device and checking if it requires a software or operating system update 
  • Move across tools to complete a task (for example, adding PowerPoint slides into a note taking app for annotation) 
  • Differentiate between legitimate and falsified information online 
  • Understand basic file types and know when to use them (for example, the difference between .doc and .pdf files) 

Market/Employer Trends: Employers indicate value in employee ability to problem solve using technology, particularly related to drawing information from data to identify and solve challenges. Further, knowing how to leverage technology tools to see a problem, break it down into manageable pieces, and work toward solving is of important value. Employers expect new employees to be able to navigate across common toolsets, making decisions to use the right tool for the right task.  



Key questions for reflection: 

  • How comfortable are you when technology doesn’t work the way you expect?  
  • Do you know basic troubleshooting skills to solve tech issues?  
  • Do you know the key indicators of whether information you read online is reliable? 

Strong digital skills in this area could appear as: 

  • Updating your computer after encountering a problem and resolving the issue 
  • Discerning legitimate news sources from illegitimate ones to successfully meet goals 
  • Converting a PowerPoint presentation into a PDF for easy access for peers who can’t use PowerPoint 
  • Taking notes on a phone and seamlessly completing them on a computer


Ways to Upskill: 

Ready to grow your strength in this competency? Try: 


Educator Tips to Support Digital Skills: 

  • Create an assignment in Carmen prompting students to find legitimate peer-reviewed research  
  • Provide links to information literacy resources on research-related assignments or projects for student review 
  • Develop assignments that require using more than one tech tool to accomplish a single task