Visible Thinking

Visible Thinking is a research-based approach to making learning visible so that it can be reflected on and built on. It emphasizes three core practices: thinking routines, the documentation of student thinking and reflective professional practice. It is the difference between teaching skills and teaching students to think creatively and critically. The use of thinking routines encourages the development of habits of observing and analyzing situations and problems. Project Zero developed thinking routines as simple structures that help students work through complex information to make it accessible and then to reflect back on what they have learned.

View the video below for an introduction to Thinking Routines. Then review the tools to find one to begin using in your classes now.


Introducing SAMR

Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition, otherwise known as SAMR.

SAMR is a model for integrating technology into your classes that was developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura. The strength of the SAMR model is that it allows you to start small with the knowledge you already have and to begin using technology to do a task that you already do. For example, you may substitute your paper calendar for a digital one. Later, you may decide to step up your technology use by sharing this calendar with others to coordinate scheduling, augmenting your use of a digital calendar in a way that you could not have done with a paper calendar. For more examples of integrating technology in small, but manageable steps, take a look at SAMR and Bloom’s Taxonomy and listen to Dr. Puentedura describe his model in the video below. 


Why We Need Digital Literacy Skills

The American Library Association defines digital literacy as “the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.” The ability to find, evaluate and synthesize information in a digital world with massive amounts of information has become a key skill in today’s workplace as is the need to communicate and collaborate using online technologies. There is often an assumption that students who have grown up with these technologies are adept with them. However, research often shows that a person’s age has little to do with their comfort level using technology and rather on the need or desire to interact with these technologies on a regular basis.


To learn more about digital literacy skills and how to integrate them into the curriculum, check out these resources:

JISC Developing students’ digital literacy
Educause Faculty Digital Fluencies and Frameworks
Deakin University Library’s Elements of Digital Literacy


Use an OER Textbook

Textbooks are expensive. Some students may not buy the textbook for a course because they can’t afford it which affects their performance in the class. Others may simply not take a course due to the cost of the required texts. This infographic from visualizes the numbers. What’s the alternative?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are “teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits free use and repurposing by others.” OER includes course materials, textbooks, videos, tests, software and even full courses. OER can cut textbook costs for student making education more affordable. It can also provide more freedom to an instructor who is no longer limited to a textbook structure. Instructors decide what to teach and then look for resources to support their content.

The video from Open Oregon below provides a good intro to OER and this list of OER sites from Educause will help you get started.



Can I Use That?

You’ve found the perfect article, book chapter, image or video and you want to use it for your course. Can you?

Yes! Wait, No! Well… maybe. It can be complicated. In most cases, you can create link in your myLesley course that takes your students to the author’s website. However, you may not have permission to make a copy of it and distribute it to your students… even for education purposes. Fair Use provides you with an exception for educational use, but you still need to balance the Four Factors of Fair Use to make sure your situation applies.  

  1. Purpose of Use – Is your use of the work transformative or different from way it was used before?
  2. Nature of the work – Facts are not protected by copyright, but creative works are.
  3. Amount of work used – Using only the amount of the work needed or very small amounts
  4. Effect on the market value of the work – Will your use of the work impact the ability of the author to make money or sell copies of the work?

Fair use is not black and white which is why it’s so confusing. The video below provides a good overview for instructors on what might be possible without getting into legal hot water. The University of Texas Libraries Copyright Crash Course and Digital ID’s Can I Use That? Creative Commons Guide are great resources for learning more. When in doubt, Ask a Lesley Librarian. They can help determine fair use or find an alternative.