The beauty of Kialo is its versatility. While it can function as a place for debate of societal or political issues, it can just as easily be used to debate character motivation in a novel or the ethics of scientific research, or to help a class make a decision about something as simple as a field trip. It's a good platform to teach the importance of reasoned, respectful arguments when trying to persuade others. However, most teachers will likely want to create a private discussion limited to students only rather than have students participate in public discussions. This would allow a focused discussion on a curriculum- or class-related topic where students can make all of the contributions and write alongside peers with similar abilities/sensibilities. This will also help teachers with assessment of student participation, considering things like:
- Students' use of evidence and examples
- Whether comments build on those of other people
- Whether responses to other participants address their arguments directly
To help scaffold learning, teachers will want to pair the use of Kialo with explicit instruction on building arguments. Unfortunately, there aren't any classroom-focused resources on the site for this, but there are tons of examples from the public discussions to help model contributions. Teachers might also want to build a basic rubric for a "claim," which is Kialo's version of a pro/con paragraph supporting or critiquing a particular perspective.Continue reading Show less
Kialo is a free website designed to foster thoughtful debate and discussion of complex issues. Users can browse for and participate in existing discussions or create their own. These discussions can be made either public or private. Discussion topics run the gamut (e.g., from "Should there be trigger warnings in education?" to "Should the electoral college be abolished?"). Once they've chosen a discussion, users then choose their side -- pro or con --- and add their own opinions via "claims." Participants are encouraged to read other people's contributions and like them or add follow-up responses. To ensure meaningful contributions, Kialo offers two important features. First, discussion creators can moderate commenting (and accept/modify suggestions) so that new contributions stay on topic and remain respectful. In addition, when users try to add a new claim, they can see other similar claims below, to make sure that what they're suggesting is truly additive and not duplicative. It's not foolproof, but it does help prevent the repetition of the same arguments. Handy visualizations that appear alongside discussions offer a snapshot of how the argument is playing out and which claims are getting the most votes.
Kialo has a lot potential as a learning tool, but it's dependent on a teacher's commitment to making it work. Kialo's discussions are shockingly civil, given the low expectations we all have from social media. While students could browse, learn from, and participate in these public discussions, the best use of Kialo is likely to be classroom-based private discussions. For these, a good prompt will help, but it isn't enough to make Kialo a learning tool. Teachers will need to help students recognize good arguments, learn how to use evidence (which is supported by Kialo but could be more effectively highlighted and privileged), and learn how to disagree without disrespecting other people's viewpoints. While there aren't supporting resources to help with this instruction, Kialo is full of existing discussions and comments that can be used as models for students. In fact, Kialo's snapshot overviews of contentious debates might become a key starting point for students when they're planning on a writing project. This could be a double-edged sword; on the one hand, it'll offer students readymade outlines, and on the other, it'll be tempting to just copy the existing arguments.
Key Standards Supported
Reading Informational Text
Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient to support the claims.
Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; recognize when irrelevant evidence is introduced.
Analyze a case in which two or more texts provide conflicting information on the same topic and identify where the texts disagree on matters of fact or interpretation.
Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
There aren't any teacher reviews yet. Be the first to review this tool.Write a review