ISTE Standards:
3b, 3d

What is critical thinking?

Critical thinking is different to everyone. We all do it, but it takes practice. The Critical Thinking Community defines it as thinking where you analyse, assess and reconstruct knowledge (2015). To do this, we can explore information sources we may not usually use, or explore perspectives we don't agree with.

Critical thinking can also help solve problems. Sometimes we need to find a different solution, because what we already know isn't working. Other times, we create a problem to solve, like The Thinking Stick outlines (2013).

So, why is this important online? As this module displays, there is stacks of information online - and not all of it is created equal. Developing and using critical thinking skills will help you sort through what's good and what's not, although there's a bit more to it than that.

Click on the image below. It will take you our Flipgrid, where you will record a short response (one minute, 30 seconds) to two questions:

1. What is critical thinking?

2. Why do we need critical thinking when learning in a DLE?

Watch some of your peers' responses. What common themes are there? Any major differences?


Selecting reliable online sources

Look at the below images. They are the same, except one has no information besides a title, and the other contains details about the image.

  • Which image do you trust more?
  • Why?
  • Is the information on the second image helpful?
  • There is no right or wrong answer, but make sure you justify your response. Add your answer to the discussion section below.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Watch the following video. It explores criteria for selecting reliable websites and digital resources. This is a really important skill to have because it's very easy for people to create content on the internet, whether that's blogging, uploading video, or posting photos on social media.

Using the guidelines explored in the above video, complete the collaborative activity in the Google Doc.

Something else you've probably heard about is 'fake news'. This is where articles are published containing ideas which are untrue - and the writer or organisation usually knows this, but publishes anyway, in order to get a reaction. Watch this video to learn more about fake news.

There are also websites which publish satire. While we won't be focusing on these, here are a couple of sites for you to explore if you are interested:

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Information YOU create

Have you ever posted on Facebook, SnapChat or Insta? Then you have created internet content.

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Being a critical thinker online means being actively aware of what you are posting and sharing, like status updates, and photos. An interesting activity to do is open an incognito or hidden web browsing tab on your phone or a computer. Then, do a search for yourself on Facebook. What do you find? Are your privacy settings working? Is there anything you'd forgotten about, or didn't know was there?

Social media is a fantastic tool for communicating, learning and sharing with others, but needs to be approached with care.

What now?

Critical thinking is essential to getting the most out of your online experience. It is important to #evaluate to find #qualityinformation. Skills in #digitaldiscernment help to build you into effective digital citizens.

Click below on any of the 4Cs categories or use the side navigation to explore this site

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Common Sense Education. (2014). Digital citizenship poster for middle and high school classrooms. Retrieved from

Lindsay, J. & Davis, V. A. (2013). Choice. In Flattening classrooms, engaging minds (pp. 158-196). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Moseley, A. (2016, November 29). Fake news [Video file]. Retrieved from

O'Connell, J. & Groom, D. (2010). Connect communicate collaborate. Camberwell, VIC: Australian Council for Educational Research.

The Critical Thinking Community. (2015). Our concept and definition of critical thinking. Retrieved from

Utecht, J. (2016, January 10). The 4 Cs of learning [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Wheeler, S. (2015). Digital Identities. In Learning with 'e's (pp. 179-190). Bancyfelin, Carmarthen: Crown House Publishing.