Digital Literacy- Critical Thinking

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Learning Outcome

Students develop critical thinking skills in cyberspace

  • Students understand that not all information that is available on the internet is accurate or relevant.
  • Students learn how to ask critical questions so they can identify the best information that meets their needs.

NetSafe Digital Citizenship Definition: uses and develops critical thinking skills in cyberspace


Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally. This requires reflective and independent thinking. Below are a range of online tools, strategies and links that may support critical thinking.

Look at these two websites: Petrol Direct and The Tree Octopus website

Discuss: Do these website give us useful information? What makes us think that the content on this
website might not be reliable?

Here are some lists of things to think about when you are assessing the credibility of an information
resource. Many of these criteria apply to information other than websites too. You will need to
work through these criteria with students the first few times.

Remember that although the title of this worksheet refers to hoaxes, content creators do not always
make it available as a joke. People and organisations can create biased content to try and persuade
people to buy things, to do things, or to believe in the things that they themselves believe in.

Students could use some of these thinking guides to keep track of the information as they compare
results from multiple sources to find similarities and differences, inaccuracies and different

This MediaSmarts game helps students to consider the intent behind different websites.


Look at this website and mark all the parts that make you think again about its credibility. If you are looking for more, searching for ‘hoax websites’ will direct you
to many more or try the websites of specific organisations for biased content.


Why is there so much biased information on the internet?

Whose responsibility is it to make sure the information is correct?


Create your own mnemonic that helps you to remember how to assess the credibility of a website.
Make it into a poem, a song, a recipe…

Create a poster, or piece for the school website, to display near the places people do online research
that reminds them about checking the credibility of a website. Make sure it is in the library,
classrooms, everywhere!


Some Online Thinking Tools

Wallwisher is an Internet application that allows people to express their thoughts on a common topic easily.A wall is basically the 'web page' where people actually post messages which can include text, files and/or web links.
AnswerGarden is a new minimalistic feedback tool. Use it as a tool for online brainstorming or embed it on your website or blog as a poll or guestbook.
is a cloud-based presentation software that opens up a new world between whiteboards and slides. The zoomable canvas makes it fun to explore ideas and the connections between them. The result: visually captivating presentations that lead your audience down a path of discovery.
This presents itself as a Brainstorming tool but as you can see from the example below it is presented in Mindmap form. Fairly easy to use although there are no images or graphics allowed. I would suggest this may be a good tool for an interactive whiteboard for an introduction or plenary session where you don't have the time to introduce graphics.
This tool from Futurelabs is intended for educational use. In essence it allows you to create visual guides/graphic organizers either from scratch or using a wide range of templates. These can then be printed or completed online. Collaboration is through e-mail although there is also the option to simply view the projectThe organizers can be presented in a show using prompts to guide the user which is a nice touch. There is also the option to leave comments.
This site contains 6 interactive graphic organizers on the free tool and another 10 on a paid version. They are fairly simple. but they work and the result can be saved or printed. You could maybe use these projected or on an interactive white board where pupils might enjoy dragging the items around the page.
Recall Plus
This is a downloadable tool rather than web based. However, it has a unique feature that makes it worth looking at. Recall Plus allows the user to create a concept map with a revision test. The maps are not as sophisticated as dedicated mind-mapping software, nevertheless worth looking at if you want to create flash cards for revision. Perhaps you could get your students to make the cards as a revision exercise and test each other.
This tool is a free visual dictionary. Enter the word you want to find and a map will be produced of your word and any related words. By rolling over the word you will be given the definition. This is part dictionary, part thesaurus and a useful tool for anyone who wants to explore word associations and meanings.
This tool is intended for history teachers but I'm sure would work just as well for other subjects. In essence you have to gather together evidence on a topic. This can be in the form of video, audio, word files etc. It could be used as a presentational tool for the different elements on a project. The final product is in the form of a museum shelf with the various artefacts collected within it.
I really like the idea behind this tool. You start by creating an online version of yourself, or a famous character. You then populate the character with information and it learns as you go on. When a visitor asks the character a question it provides an answer based on what it has learnt so far. If you dont like the answer you can teach it a new one. Characters can be private, public or created within a group. You could use this tool to learn about a historical character, perhaps allow several groups to create the same character and see who's becomes the most intelligent or accurate. This would allow some formative assessment as they engage in discussions about which is the best. You can also do experiences such as a day at the beach, what is it like to live in Africa etc. which might be another interesting use.
As the title suggests this is a decision making/problem solving tool. You start with your problem/decision and then add a series of solutions/comments or further problems. You can also vote on the ideas to create a simple rank order which is a useful addition. Quick and simple compared to similar tools and collaboration is through a shared URL so relatively secure- Worth a look if you want to get students to discuss a problem.
Image Detective
This tool should be of particular interest to historians. It shows how historians use a photographic source to gather information. Your evidence and conclusion can then be compared to other students or teachers ideas. A clever tool but unfortunately you cannot add your own photo which would give it wider appeal.
Brain Reactions
This tool is designed to generate as many ideas as possible. You start off with a question or problem and people suggest their ideas. There is no ability to comment on the ideas as with Solvr but as the website points out that is not what it is designed to do. That said there is a voting system to allow people to vote for their best ideas. Worth a look.
This is a brainstorming tool which enables you to share your ideas with others for commenting on. There also appears to be a tool to match your ideas with other similar ideas but I didn't get a chance to try it.
This is basically a chart and diagram drawing tool. The difference with this over other similar tools is that it claims to help collaborative drawing. The free version is limited to 5 contributors but this is likely to be fine for most classroom use. Another feature worth considering is that there are a number of pre-formatted writing frames/visual thinking diagrams. There are a number of sites which allow you to print a paper version but this seems to offer the chance for pupils to complete them online and collaboratively. If so this could be a site well worth visiting.
This tool enables pupils to post up ideas for a brainstorming session and then vote for them . There are free and paid plans available.
Make an interactive picture by linking elements of the picture to other web content.
Critical Thinking Web
A collection of courses and resources.


Dorothy Burt, Pt England School - CyberSmart Matrix

Jacqui Land, Papanui High School – papNET Digital Citizenship course

Esther Casey, National Library of New Zealand

Claire Amos, Epsom Girls' Grammar