If ever there is a time to keep our media literacy skills front and center, it’s after a national disaster. Adults need to regulate and monitor what children see and, more importantly, adults need to remember that children see and hear a lot more than we sometimes think.
Do you know how to help your children evaluate sites and make good quality choices?
Below are four links to university library websites where parents learn more about how to judge the quality of a website. Following the separate resources is a small collection of links that can help middle and elementary school students learn how to evaluate the quality of a website.
The LOC Reading Room - Picture taken from the entrance.
If you ever visit Washington, DC, save an afternoon or even a day to visit the Library of Congress (LOC). Filled with resources — primary and secondary, hands-on and digital — the Library is a delight for anyone who loves to learn. In my post , The Library of Congress: Go Exploring for Digital Resources, I wrote about a few LOC digital learning opportunities, and library website features many more. The digital learning resources are available no matter where a person lives, however there is much to see at the library itself, and a LOC library visit is fun for adults and children.
When we are sick or injured or when we are planning to travel, we often try to recall past immunizations as well as determine if boosters are required. Yearly flu shots are fairly easy to remember. However, the boosters that update past inoculations are more difficult to recall. Most adults do not keep good enough inoculation records and because we move from place to place, or at least doctor to doctor, our medical charts are not as complete as they should be.
Early this fall, because of my work, I went to my doctor to get a booster for pertussis, and sure enough, cases in my area right now. I am glad I got the booster. Check this pertussis information website at CDC for more information.
The next time you watch your child begin a web search for a school project or other academic activity, take a few minutes to observe more closely how he or she selects web resources. In Trust Online: Young Adults’ Evaluation of Web Content (this abstract site leads to a free PDF of the article), professor Eszter Hargittai and colleagues form the Web Use Projectat Northwestern University, describe how students tend to place huge amounts of trust in the initial hits retrieved by search engines such as Google and Yahoo.
With first year students in a required writing course at the University of Illinois Chicago (chosen because of its highly diverse student body) researchers conducted a written survey of 1060 students enrolled in the classes. Next researchers selected a stratified random sample of 192 students to observe in person as each student performed 12 specific web-based tasks. Learn more about a stratified random sample.
To complete a web-based task, students usually went to a search engine.
After search engines presented links, students tended to follow the first few links, apparently assuming that the first links in a search were reliable resources to pursue.
When they looked at a list of provided links, some had difficulty knowing the difference between regular links and sponsored links.
As they followed these links, students did not appear concerned about who authored the sites that they found (only 10 percent of the students commented about a site’s authors or the credentials presented).
To complete tasks students relied on brand names, and corporate brands dominated.
SparkNotes, an online version of Cliff Notes, dominated.
For credible sources many students favored .gov and .edu sites as more credible sites.
Many expressed trust in .org, because they are all not-for-profit sites, although these days just about anyone can get a .org web address.
To verify information, less than half of the observed students consulted a second website.