Participate: Collecting Reputable Digital Resources Quest

posted May 16, 2016, 6:38 AM by Emily Kroutil   [ updated May 19, 2016, 7:57 AM ]
A few years ago, I taught a class called Research II.  One of the most important parts of that class was teaching the students what was a reputable website for collecting information for their research projects and which sites looked reputable but were really created by an individual or group with an agenda and usually quite biased.  When teaching AP Environmental Science, I had to do a similar lesson with those students so they could evaluate sites not just for their lab reports, but also as far as environmental information.  There are quite a few hot topics (climate change, evolution, vaccines...) in AP Environmental Science that tend to accumulate sites that aren't reputable.  It was important for me to teach my students how to evaluate these sites so they would not be fed misinformation and would be able to sift through the myriad of sites on the internet about these topics.

With that being said, it was interesting to complete this quest and see what "official" resources are out there for people to evaluate the trustworthiness of internet sites.  Previously, I had cobbled together my own "list" of what makes a site reputable or not, and it was interesting to see what authorities on the subject had to say and how that agreed or disagreed with what I had been telling my students (spoiler alert: I'd been doing a pretty good job if I don't say so myself ;-))

I did not realize there were so many organizations on the web dedicated to the purpose of teaching people how to tell a reputable site from a not-so-reputable site.  Unfortunately, if I didn't realize these organizations were out there, it's likely that others don't as well.  When/if my virtual students are completing research projects, it will be important to lead them to the collection of sites that I've bookmarked - not only because they are a good resource in evaluating websites but also to "get the word out" that these organizations and sites exist so they can (hopefully) spread the word.

As far as the sites I looked at, I think the following sites would be the most useful for students:
2) Berkeley's Instructions on How to Evaluate a Website (this is similar to what I tell my students)
3) Web of Trust - I just think this is a really cool idea and a good example of how a large number of people from a wide-variety of backgrounds can use the internet for good.

Here's my full list of bookmarked digital literacy sites: Digital Literacy Bookmarks

I think it would be important to direct students to Berkeley's website (#2 above) for evaluating websites.  It would be helpful to maybe create a google form with questions that the kids could fill out based on their exploration of the site.  Then, it would be a good idea to quiz them on the information on that site (just to make sure it sticks ;-)).  Then, throughout the course, any time the kids need to supply information found from outside sources, make them list the site with the link and write a couple sentences about why they thought this particular site was a reputable site.  It would also probably be useful to create a checklist for the students to evaluate websites and possibly even turn in this checklist with their list of sites...

Basically, this quest re-emphasized the importance of teaching students how to identify a reputable website.  I've been doing it so long, it is second nature to me but sometimes I forget that this isn't common practice with most students.