It is imperative that educators and students learn to think and validate the information they find on the Internet, not just find the information. The fact is the Internet is here to stay. Educators and students will have the technology and use it. High school students enjoy research using the Internet and almost consider it entertainment. They enjoy the graphics, video, sound, and pointing and clicking their way to vast amounts of information. They prefer this research tool to reading volumes of books. Assignments should include research from the Internet as well as from traditional sources and should require students to find related sites and compare the information. Since the Internet is here to stay, teachers have to teach students responsible use of this tool. Students who graduate in this millenium will work in a world where they will access on-line information 24 hours a day.
Educators and students should realize that the computer is a TOOL for researching information and analyzing and reporting that information. Alan November, senior partner with Educational Renaissance Planners states, "The real revolution is not in the 'Hardware' but what is flowing through the hardware." Alan November is a nationally known leader in educational technology, and we will explore his research later.
We often think that we can determine the value of a site by the domain extensions. We assume that all educational links are accurate and that many commercial sites are not. While this may be true most of the time, it is not always true. Sites sponsored by a government agency are usually very reliable. Determining the accuracy of information found on the Web is totally the responsibility of the user. Anyone can publish on the Web, and no one is in charge of checking the validity of what is posted. You can check who registered the website and who the contact is at http://www.easywhois.com/. Simply type the domain name (example: www.nisd.net) in the box provided, and the information will be provided to you. Common domain extensions are listed below:
|.org ||non-profit organization|
|.com ||commercial entity|
|.net||Internet Service Provider/Network Resource|
|.mil ||military site|
New Extensions that have been approved and will be seen soon are:
. cc, .aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name, and .pro
Any of the following in a Web address indicate that it is a personal web page and not necessarily sponsored by a reputable group:
Don't forget the fact that students publish work on many educational web sites, and their information may or may not be completely accurate.
There are six different criteria to consider in evaluating a web site:
- Purpose of the site (What is the intent of the site?)
- Authority of the author (Is the author and credentials listed?)
- Accuracy of the information (Is the information correct?)
- Objectivity of the information (Bias or slanted?)
- Currency (Is it up to date?)
- Coverage (Is the topic covered in depth?)
- Is the main purpose to inform?
- Is the author trying to change your opinion?
- Is the author given?
- Are the credentials of the author given?
- Who is the author affiliated with?
- Is there a way to contact the author?
- Is the information reliable?
- Is the information free of errors?
- Is there a bibliography?
- Who is responsible for the information?
- Are there links to related sites?
- Are statistics included?
- Is the information biased?
- Is the information slanted?
- Are images used to change opinions?
- Is the date of the last revision stated?
- Is the page up to date?
- Do the links work?
- Is the topic completely covered?
- Is the site under construction?
Another way to evaluate an Internet site is the TEN C's listed below:
1) Content - Is the content popular or scholarly? Are the author and title identified? What is the intent? What is the date of the publication?
2) Credibility - What is the url extension - Is it a source from .edu, .gov, .org, or a .com - and what might this tell you?
3) Critical Thinking - How does this information mesh with your previous knowledge - or with other resources?
4) Copyright - Internet users, along with users of print media, must respect copyright.
5) Citation - Internet sources should be cited to credit the source.
6) Continuity - Will this site be maintained and updated? Can you rely upon it over time? If it is free, is it likely to continue to be free?
7) Censorship - Are some words in your search excluded via censorship - will this affect your results?
8) Connectivity - If this is a popular and busy resource, will it be easily available at the times when you will need it?
9) Comparability - Is there an identified comparable print or CD-ROM data source? (Some sites include partial information online - with complete information offline in a print format.)
10) Context - Are you looking for current or historical information on your topic? Are you looking for opinions or research-based statistics?
How can parents protect their children from inappropriate information found on the Internet? Parents want to know where their children are going in the real world; the same should be true in the virtual world of the Internet. There are no CyberPolice at this point in time. The Internet is a new medium, and the federal government has not declared who should patrol it. Therefore, parents and other responsible adults have to control the use of the Internet by their children. Here are some helpful suggestions presented in a February, 2002 Better Homes and Garden article entitled, "Drugs, the Internet, and Your Kids.":
- Remove computers from children's bedrooms. Access to the Internet should be in a communal area.
- Create an Internet Use Agreement with your children which includes age-appropriate restrictions and consequences for violations.
- If you're not Internet savvy, ask your child to show you around the Web in order to get an idea of what they see online.
- Check the History List of visited sites.
- Use a filtering system that blocks inappropriate material.
- If your children have credit cards, keep track of billing charges for unusual charges that may have been purchased online.
LET'S LOOK AT SOME OTHER INFORMATION:
ICYOUSEE: T IS FOR THINKING BY JOHN R. HENDERSON, ITHACA COLLEGE LIBRARY
Gardner, Susan A. English Journal. "Oh, What a Tangled Web We've Woven. Helping Students Evaluate Sources."
November, Alan. "Teaching Zach to Think". [Online] Available http://www.anovember.com
Mollenkamp, Becky. Better Homes and Garden. "Drugs, the Internet, and Your Kids." February 2000