At the beginning of this year I gave a technology survey to a nearby high school class. One of the questions I asked was “When using a website for educational purposes do you have a method for evaluating if the information is reliable, valid, accurate, worthwihile to use? If you do have a method, be as specific as you can. Think of questions you might ask yourself or steps you take.” Here are their answers:

  • I just read it.
  • When I look at info, I believe it is true unless it is farfetched/ludicrous.
  • Don’t have a method.
  • No
  • Yes, look for author, updates
  • No, I take it as it goes.
  • When using a website for information, I look for sources cited and a clear author. I also make sure that I use multiple sources to verify information.
  • The date or domain
  • I really don’t have a method.
  • You can check the same information on many sites and compare the information.
  • I ask myself if it sounds reasonable & if I read the same information from many websites.
  • no
  • I check to see if the writer has minimal errors in the article as well as making sure that it is a website ending in edu, net, org.
  • I don’t really have a method.
  • I look for an author or publisher and a date.
  • I check multiple websites to confirm.
  • No.
  • (1) If it’s well known. (2) When last it has been updated.
  • Does it have an alternative source? Is it credible?
  • No
  • I check to see what kind of website it is. Example – .com, .org, .gov, .net

Depressing, isn’t it?I imagine many of you would find similar answers in nearby classes. I’d say we’re not getting the job done and we are really doing our students a disservice by not teaching them. Julie Coiro has a nice handout, Critical evaluation on the Internet: What’s missing in the text? What’s missing in our instruction? from the IRA 2007. Pass it along….