Reflections on the Howard Rheingold Live Chat

This past Wednesday, June 16, Howard Rheingold spoke to members of the Educator’s PLN ning and Edchat about effective ways to teach critical thinking. Howard participated in this live Elluminate chat in order to have educators help contribute to his upcoming ISTE presentation. He is the author of Tools for Thought, The Virtual Community and Smart Mobs.

I would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to Tom Whitby, Steven Anderson, and Betsy Aoki, Microsoft’s Blog Queen, for their help organizing and moderating the chat.

If you missed the live chat you can still help Howard Rheingold build his critical thinking resources by contributing to this wiki.


To get the full impact of Howard Rheingold’s responses, please watch this video of the event, which I was able to edit to 48 minutes.

Howard Rheingold Live Chat: Critical Thinking from Shelly Terrell on Vimeo.

Howard Rheingold’s Responses

Here are some of the questions asked and Howard Rheingold’s answers. The following are snippets of the conversation:

Colin Graham asked, “Do we put too much trust in the written word?”

Howard Rheingold quote:

All text is flattened. It all looks the same. We’re used to text being authoritative and maybe it’s not.

Jerry Blumengarten, Cybraryman asked, “How can educators best show their students how to employ critical thinking skills and teamwork to come up with the best solutions to problems?”

Howard Rheingold quote:

In general, helping students do collaborative inquiry, looking into a set of websites to try and assess them together could be very useful.

Lynne Oakvik asked, “How can we get people thinking critically and looking at the Internet more critically?”

Howard Rheingold quote:

Showing people websites on the Internet that are not what they appear to be and totally bogus and could be dangerously inaccurate, that’s a start. There’s nothing like showing rather than telling… Do we teach kids how to drive by showing them a booklet or do we give them some driver’s training? Teaching young people about the web by showing them a sanitized version of it is crippling them for the kind of doubt and skepticism they are going to require.

Angela Maiers commented, “Young children can think deeply, critically, and more rigorously than most of the AP classrooms I’m in. Proving to people they can do this is a huge milestone before we can give them access.”

Howard Rheingold quote:

There was one fellow who was pushing this and I don’t if he’s manage to get this to happen. It was a philosophy slam for young children. And we’re talking 7 and 8 year-olds got up on this stage in front of a room full of adults and debated about issues like free will. We don’t give young children credit for thinking about the big questions.

em>Jenna McWilliamsasked, “What are your thoughts about the role of students participating in media creation and thinking about crap detection?”

Howard Rheingold quote:

Part of the precludion doctrine is that print and movable type enforces a linear kind of thinking and sometimes they are in a network order. In my book, I’m talking about five different types of literacy- attention, participation, collaboration, crap detection, and network smarts and they’re all connected to each other. How can you sift the good stuff from the bad if you don’t have some practice controlling your attention online?

Alicia Lopez asked, “What does teaching students 21st century authentic critical thinking learning look like?”

Howard Rheingold quote:

For the class I teach college students, I tell them that we are going to teach and learn a different way here. It is up to the students to co-teach with me. It means coming up with ways we can think together about the issues each week and we have a number of different ways. We use the forum for a group voice. We use blogs for individual voice.

Related Resources


Watch the video and reflect. Also contribute to Howard Rheingold’s critical thinking resources.

You may want to subscribe for FREE!

What are your reactions to Howard Rheingold’s views on critical thinking?

Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is a teacher trainer, instructional designer, adjunct professor, and the author of The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers: Small Steps to Transform Your Teaching and Learning to Go: Lesson Ideas for Teaching with Mobile Devices, Cell Phones and BYOT. She has been recognized by the ELTon Awards, The New York Times, the Ministry of Education in Spain, and Microsoft’s Heroes for Education as an innovator in the movement of teacher-driven professional development and education technology. Recently, she was named Woman of the Year 2014 by Star Jone’s National Association of Professional Women and awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, the Twitter chat that spurred over 400 teacher chats. She has trained teachers and taught learners in over 25 countries and has consulted with organizations worldwide such as UNESCO Bangkok, The European Union aPLaNet Project, Cultura Iglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, and VenTESOL. She shares regularly via, Twitter (@ShellTerrell), and Her greatest joy is being the mother of Rosco the pug.


  1. Hi Shelly, is this list of bogus websites listed somewhere? Didn’t actually find it on Howard Reingold’s critical thinking wiki, but it would be interesting as a resource!
    If this is not the right place to ask, where should I post my question? Thanks!

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