App review by Jenny Bristol, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2020
Abridge News
Get it now

Abridge News

Timely news app provides multiple views, encourages critical thinking

Get it now
Learning rating
Community rating
Not yet reviewed Write a review
Privacy rating
Not yet rated Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Grades
9–12
Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts, Social Studies, Character & SEL, Critical Thinking

Take a look inside

11 images

Pros: The app is easy to use, provides a brief context for each topic, and includes quality pull quotes and facts from the articles.

Cons: The summaries may discourage students from reading the original articles, and a class discussion breaking down the different perspectives is necessary for students to receive full benefit from the app.

Bottom Line: This free, streamlined app for consuming current news will get students thinking critically about multiple perspectives on each topic.

Abridge News is a useful tool to include in your government or social studies classes, especially for high school students. It promotes learning about current events, understanding multiple perspectives on an issue, and learning about often subtle differences along the spectrum of ideas.

Since the app orders the topics in reverse chronological order with the most recent topic shown first, it's easy to find the most current topic to discuss. Have students read the background information in the app, the takeaway points from the articles, and the articles themselves for homework, voting on how closely they agree with each of the four perspectives. Then go over the results in the next class, seeing how the class voted (perhaps anonymously to protect privacy) and taking a critical look at the contents of the articles. And if you don't want to have each individual student use the app, you can use the materials supplied in the app to present to the whole class at once.

If you want to study these topics in significant depth, however, you'll need to gather additional information on them, since the app doesn't go deeper than basic background facts. Then you can extend these lessons to be longer discussions or even group projects. Alternatively, if pressed for time, you could just hit the highlights, focusing more on the bullet points and the differences of the four perspectives.

Continue reading Show less

Abridge News is a current events news app that provides a daily topic on which readers can read four different perspectives from across the opinion spectrum. From politics to sports to culture to science, Abridge News' content team chooses a timely topic for the day that has plenty of room for debate, finds four different op-ed pieces from across the political or ideological spectrum, arranges them based on their content and arguments, and presents them in an easily digestible format. The articles are based on facts, but they don't always paint a complete picture of the facts; it's up to readers to analyze what they read.

First, readers view The Quick Facts, which give a quick historical background on the topic to get them up to speed. Then readers tap on the Opinion Spectrum to read one or all of the four perspectives on that topic. Each perspective has bullet points summarizing the original article, with facts or pull quotes from it. Readers can tap through to read the original article in their browser. Afterward, readers can then weigh in on how they feel about the article, expressing their agreement, disagreement, or undecided nature by choosing from a subset of choices such as "I strongly support this," "This doesn't paint the full picture," "I agree with some, but not all," etc. After voting, readers can compare their responses to other readers' reactions.

Each topic has its own spectrum, with some having a more political left-right dichotomy while others describe the spectrum as supporting or not supporting an issue or person, or celebrating how far we've come versus how far we have yet to go. Additionally, users can filter the news topics by category, or search the archives to find topics with specific keywords. While there's a decent archive, teachers will definitely find some gaps.

The Abridge News app pointedly gets readers to think critically about opinion pieces published on the internet, which will get students thinking about the substance of arguments, the facts supporting or refuting positions, and the perspectives of those who don't feel the same way they do about a subject. All of this together builds critical thinking skills and increases empathy. It also saves teachers some time in presenting the basic background and collecting the first round of sources they might want to use to illustrate the spectrum of opinions. With that foundational work done, teachers can dive more deeply into rhetoric, history, political science, or whatever else is the focus of their curriculum.

Since the articles are arranged on a spectrum based on the content of the article itself, not on the leanings of the publication they're from, this gives students an opportunity to look at previously judged writers and publications in a new light. And it's not always left-wing versus right-wing; for International Women's Day, for example, the spectrum is from the celebration of women on one end to protesting still-existing disparities in our society on the other. While the app does include non-political topics, it's definitely focused primarily on politics and issues' political context. 

Overall Rating

Engagement

The simplified interface and one-topic-at-a-time format make it easy to engage and focus. The quick recap of contextual history and pull quotes/facts from the articles help orient students before they dive into the full articles.

Pedagogy

Students are challenged to learn about current topics, read other perspectives, and form opinions, all while thinking critically about why they feel the way they do. There is a back catalog of content, but the app focuses on timely stories.

Support

The app is very easy to use, with intuitive navigation and quality content -- but no real help to speak of. 


Common Sense reviewer

Community Rating

No one has reviewed this tool yet. Be the first to share your thoughts.

Add your rating

Privacy Rating

This tool has not yet been rated by our privacy team. Learn more about our privacy ratings