Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Evaluating Arguments: Interdisciplinary and Online

One of the great educational potentials of technology and distance learning is the awesome avalanche of information and perspectives that comprise the internet.  But what to do with all of it?  Who has time to sort through it all? Which parts of the information superhighway are going to be on the test?  How can we make the web relevant to each learner's college readiness needs and career pathway?  

The answer is to embrace it all and struggle with it until you develop the skills to make sense of it (with a teacher's facilitation).   

So, that's my intro for sharing several links from this month's Tuesdays with Essential Education webinar (email me at for an invite).  In this month's session, the topic was Evaluating Arguments, precisely the skill you need for separating fact from fiction, singling out correct answers, and comparing passages.  It's not just a discreet skill for solving one problem worth 12 points on one section of a high school equivalency test. 

Evaluating arguments is a transferable skill that is useful across multiple subject/content areas.  And it requires interdisciplinary teaching. Focusing on transferable skills and interdisciplinary teaching is going to be increasingly important in adult education, especially in light of the Common Core and College and Career Readiness Standards' impact... and the internet can help.  

For starters, here are a few links to assist with planning instruction for broadly impactful skills: 

Interdisciplinary Teaching
Science Education Resource Center

Course Design

Interdisciplinary Unit Design

Comparing and Contrasting with Current Events
Another approach discussed during the webinar was the practice of pulling content from sources that take two or more views on current events.  One site that is especially talented in that regard is, which was designed as a teacher resource. 

But most news sites do not have teaching in mind, and it becomes our job to balance the arguments or to inspire our learners to play that role of debating against a given argument.  What sources do you most often pull from in your lessons that call for evaluating arguments?  

Please leave a comment and we'll keep this topic going...

UPDATE: I was giving talks the past two days about our Computer Essentials program and realized that I've never posted the promotional video about the program on my blog. The lessons go a long way toward making the web a more approachable learning tool. Watch the video and share your thoughts and contact me for a full preview.

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