Free Learning Apps to Help Students Develop Critical Thinking
We are excited to share two new learning apps in development for teachers. These educational apps are available for use now through any browser and have been created to assist in developing critical thinking in students. They are also ideal for parents, or anyone interested in learning about logical fallacies.
The apps are Foolacy and FactOpy. Both apps are in Beta Preview to get suggestions, find bugs and expand content.
As an early adopter you can contribute while teaching kids critical thinking. Before we present these educational tools and resources, let us first review why teaching these concepts to kids is so important. The study of critical thinking and logical fallacies equip anyone of any age to ask questions before they make a statement of fact or form an opinion about a subject.
It’s easy for us to look at the world five hundred years ago and ridicule a societies lack of knowledge about science, the world and our place the universe. But let’s not be too hasty to look down on past cultures for their naivety. We have enough problems of our own. Our world today is very polarized and divisive. One could argue that this is due to a lack of training in critical thinking and even less teaching about logical fallacies.
Critical thinking is essential for research to make an informed decision. It evaluates multiple sources of information objectively. Critical thinking is vital to make kids better global citizens. It empowers them to be sounder in their thinking and strong in their ability to distinguish between what is proven and that which is unfounded.
Separate from critical thinking, but still related, logical fallacies are mistaken beliefs based on unsound arguments. While critical thinking equips one with the necessary tools to evaluate information, a study of common types of logical fallacies can enable those who wish to persuade an audience. This is done by using the appearance of logic, which ends up in an incorrect conclusion.
Educational Tools that Engage Students
The new educational apps we’ve referenced were born out of a need to fill the gap for educators. There just isn’t much out there within this area of teaching. The goal is to reach young minds before they develop insufficient methods of forming opinions about especially critical issues.
One issue is that people do not read enough. This includes a lack of discipline by most to not gather information from multiple news sources when researching subjects. Beyond reading, we also need to develop critical thinking skills to properly reason for ourselves when facts to not seem clear.
These apps are safe and free to use. Anyone can access them to educate themselves. At the very core, they teach skills that provide proper thinking to solve any problem. Each app features a teacher login in order to assign tests. There is no need for students to login to take the tests.
The first one is Foolacy. It teaches logical fallacies. The app has quizzes and drills to practice analyzing arguments. It has over seven hundred sample arguments. Foolacy solves the problem to the question: Why Change Fallacies? It offers various levels of difficulty and includes themes such as Cherry Picking, Out of Context, Common Sense, Herd Mentality and Scare Tactics. There are many more areas to explore.
What is fact and what is opinion? FactOpy provides a straightforward way to quiz your brain about how easily you can determine fact from opinion. One might think that FacOpy would not be a challenge for adults. However, in today’s world of divided opinions and conspiracy therapies it is a good test for any age. It is a simple, yet powerful tool to help us develop our critical thinking skills, as well as teach younger minds.
While brain games are common for the development of children of all ages, it is not so clear how to teach critical thinking. There are limited resources in this area, so these apps fill a great gap for teacher, as well as parents.
These learning apps were created by David Hundsness from Jupiter Ed. He is also the founder of the Critical Thinking Project.
The Critical Thinking Project
Critical thinking is very important to make better decisions and to tell when someone is trying to manipulate us, such as a politician, salesman or advertisement. But how exactly do we teach that? Skills in other subjects are clearly defined. For example, in math you start with counting and work your way up. However, the building blocks for critical thinking seem unclear. It’s not as simple as starting with a discussion with the goal of arriving at critical thinking, especially when you have a classroom of students – all with their own unique sets of preconceived notions.
The critical thinking and logical fallacies teaching featured in the Foolacy and FactOpy apps feature specific skills to help teach these concepts.
Critical thinking skills include;
- Correlation versus causation
- Assessing credibility and bias
- Understanding logical fallacies
- Detecting deceptive use of statistics
- Knowing the experimental method versus anecdotal evidence
For more information about critical thinking skills, visit criticalthinkingproject.org. You’ll find more detail and data about critical thinking, as well as the development of free curriculum apps for specific skills. The mission of this project is to improve K-12 instruction of critical thinking and logical fallacies. The launching of the learning apps introduced are an excellent way to begin for teachers in school and parents at home.