Using Kialo Edu as an argumentative essay alternative

Now more than ever, teachers are looking for alternatives to using argumentative essays as assessments. The reasons are understandable: essays are long pieces of work that can take ages to grade! Moreover, with the rise of AI tools like ChatGPT, students have even more ways to cheat.

However, many of the alternatives offered to teachers are difficult to assess and don’t offer the same learning benefits. Creative projects are often assessed subjectively, group presentations can make it difficult to give specialized attention to struggling kids, and classroom discussions can be a pain to organize and do not guarantee the participation of every student.

Kialo Edu is a great essay alternative that can assess a student’s understanding and analysis of a topic. By getting students to write essay outlines on Kialo Edu, they can continue to improve their essay writing abilities while focusing on honing their argumentative and research skills.

The advantages of using Kialo Edu

1. Train argumentative and research skills

Students often struggle with the more abstract parts of essay writing, like putting together longer chains of argumentation, criticizing their own arguments, or doing independent research. 

By following Kialo Edu’s unique pro-con structure, students are prompted to string together smaller arguments while adding and addressing any counterclaims. It is also easy for students to gather and store the sources they use.

As a result, Kialo Edu has many flexible uses—it can be great for extended projects, homework, or just classwork. By modifying the number of tasks students need to complete, you can easily adjust the scope of each assignment! 

2. Individualized feedback

Many common essay alternatives require teachers to put students in groups. However, the problems of group work are well-known: some students end up doing the majority of the work while others contribute less. By assigning each student an individual Kialo Edu discussion to develop, teachers can give individualized feedback and grades to each student. Here, a teacher gives individualized feedback (indicated by the teacher feedback icon in the shape of a graduation cap icon) on three claims that a student has made in support and rebuttal of the argument that social media websites have a democratic duty to prevent the spread of information.

Kialo Edu is also ideal for keeping track of students who need more support. Teachers can monitor their students’ progress, or even help students develop essay outlines with stages of feedback.

3. Time efficient

No more spending precious time getting your class into groups or rearranging desks! On Kialo Edu, you can assign projects that students can take their time developing in their own original ways, without having to rush and fit in all the work in a short class period. Moreover, these assignments take less time to write and grade compared to traditional essays, as students do not need to write long paragraphs, topic introductions, or transitions between arguments. 

4. Clear assessment criteria

You can grade Kialo Edu essay outlines through the criteria you’ve already established with traditional essays. Just like in a traditional essay, students need to use sources to make convincing arguments and explore counterarguments while structuring it all in a coherent way.

As a result, you can rely on the grading schemes you already have. Your students will still have to demonstrate good understanding of the class materials and an ability to structure their thoughts clearly. However, they get to put more of their effort on finding new sources and trying out their own original arguments!

How to use Kialo Edu as an essay alternative

Using Kialo Edu to make essay replacements is really simple and can be set up quickly. Below are a few basic steps to follow:

1. Set up a Kialo Edu discussion

Start by creating a Kialo Edu discussion, adding the essay question as the name of the discussion and the thesis statement in the thesis. Then, your student can choose which side of the debate they want to argue for. You can add the top-level claims yourself, or you can have your students do it!

2. Add background information and tasks

Next, you can add instructions for each student in the background information of the discussion. These instructions should lay out what their tasks will be as well as any reminders you have for them. 

Then, use the Tasks feature to give your students a clear number of claims to make and sources to attach. For reference, a 1,000 word essay translates to approximately 30 claims when a couple quotes from sources are added in.

Once you’ve decided on the Tasks, you’re done setting up the debate! Clone the debate for every member of your class and have them start writing claims.

3. Student adds claims and sources

From there, each student will go in and add claims to their own debates. They have great flexibility to choose the side of the thesis they want to argue for, the arguments they wish to make, and, importantly, the sources they want to add!

Explore Kialo Edu with your students next time you’re looking to exercise your students’ critical thinking and argumentation skills! If you’d like to share with us how you used Kialo Edu as an essay alternative in the classroom, connect with us on our Twitter, Facebook, or directly at

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