Developing critical thinking skills with Kialo

Welcome Kialo, “a debate platform powered by reason”, with focused discussions where  you can develop a good balance in your reasoning. The platforms uses pro en con arguments – in intuitive colours – and uses a rating system for contributors to value them. You can visualise the discussion and the strength of the arguments in a discussion topology (see Fig.1) – on an interactive map on the website – or

Fig. 1. Discussion topology, the stronger the argument, the stronger the colour. Screenshot from Kialo.com

in a reasoning tree ( see below Fig. 2).

Fig. 2. Reasoning tree: pro (green) en con (red) arguments. One example of pro argument to the statement mentioned underneath: “All libraries should digitize their collections, or be forced to close”. Screenshot from Kialo.com

Besides the general benefits for the society – with its important social and political debates – the platform’s potential got the attention of three scholars from three top American universities [1] for the possible benefits in academia. They foresee and explain in their paper several opportunities for use in Research, in Teaching and in Academic communication. In the latest case, they take the interesting example of reviews of OA pre-publication version of articles, reviews that often can go awry, disconnected from the initial theme. In this case, they talk about the power of such a debate platform could offer for structuring the research communication.

A maybe far fetch thought – it’s only one tool – but this could be the beginning of mass open education of critical thinkers, which is needed for the emerging of a healthy reasoning generation of adults. Nowadays, children start from the age of 10 or earlier using devices that keep them “plugged-in” to online tools, video channels, social platforms and they grow addicted to the omnipresent smartphones [2]. Teens exploring the “how to”‘s of the social life, stay tuned to what’s happening to their friends, the friends of their friends, what they are posting, what they like or dislike so that they spend hours and hours per day submerged into a sea of dispersed information.
Browsing and engaging in superficial thinking activities or chopping the ripening processing time of one’s thought by reading incoming messages can have big consequences in the development of reasoning and create lacunas in the critical thinking skills development of children and teens, while weakening the reasoning of adults [3].
That’s why the discovery of this type of online tools that try to counteract this phenomenon and help develop good sane reasoning is only good news.

What can you do on Kialo platform? They promote four possibilities:
  • explore it for interesting public discussions (see for example Public Institutions should run open-source software) and participate – Discuss with the world.
  • experiment and Have private debates or
  • invite your students to discuss topics and Teach critical thinking
  • use the Team functionality and take Effective workplace decisions.
 Just try it out!

[1] Revolutionizing Teaching and Research with a Structures Debate Platform (working paper), Harvard University, Homepage – Dustin Tingley, professor of Governmenthttps://scholar.harvard.edu/dtingley/publications/revolutionizing-teaching-and-research-structured-debate-platform, accessed Jan 10, 2018

[2]  Investors push Apple to develop tools to respond to smartphone addiction in youth, The Verge, https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/8/16862790/apple-investors-shareholders-smartphone-addiction-young-people, published Jan. 08, 2018, accessed Jan. 10, 2018

[3] Your smartphone is making you stupid, antisocial and unhealthy. So why can’t you put it down?!?  Eric Andrew-Gee, The Globe and Mailhttps://www.theglobeandmail.com/technology/your-smartphone-is-making-you-stupid/article37511900/, published Jan. 8, 2018, accessed Jan 15, 2018