If the information in this post is helpful, you may also want to read my post Staying Ahead With Digital Research.
How can one determine whether or not a website is reliable?
Obviously if the website is part of library resources, students and parents can usually be assured of its quality. However, when a child sits down at a personal home computer, makes a general search on a topic for a school assignment, and begins clicking through results, understanding the characteristics that make a website reliable is critical.
Questions to Help Parents and Children Determine if a Website is Reliable …
- Is the site visually interesting with an organized layout?
- Does it balance writing with helpful illustrations?
- Is the writer qualified to be writing on the subject? How do you know?
- Can you identify facts and information about your topic that you already know are accurate
- Are the fonts simple, easy to read, and uncluttered?
- Is the site updated on a regular basis? How do you know?
- Are there irritating pop-ups and/or other distractions. (However be aware that newspapers do have these pop-up windows.)
More Questions to Help Parents and Children Determine if a Website is Reliable …
- Can you learn anything by studying the address? If Google is in the address can you find the original site?
- Does the website get to the point without rambling over too much information?
- Did a reliable person or organization develop the site, and does the about page provide information about person or organization?
- What three-letter ending does the address have? The most reliable are .org or .edu or .gov, but other reliable address endings, including .com and .net feature reliable information.
- Can a reader contact the authors of the page?
- Is the mission or stated purpose of the website easy to find and easy to understand?
Web Evaluation Resources for Parents
Web Evaluation Resources for Students
- ClassZone Internet Guide
- The Internet Detective
- Website Evaluation from Finding Dulcinea.com
- School Assignments and the Web from Family Education.com
2 thoughts on “Do You Know What Makes a Good Website? Does Your Child Know?”
This posting is a valuable resource for teachers and parents. Too many times, our children stumble upon false information from the Internet with a quick search. As a teacher, I find this to be true more often than not. An exercise that works for me is to allow my students to use a search engine of their choice. However, I insist they back up their answers with a trusted source. It is a great way for students to see a comparison of “answers” between two different websites.
My favorite trusted resources are: Facts on File/Science Online (http://www.fofweb.com/Science) and the online encyclopedia Britannica.
The questions you suggest for students/parents to ask to validate a website are all good and could be an excellent way for Internet users to filter through the ever-growing net.
The question “Is the author qualified to be writing on this subject and how do you know?” is at the core of this dilemma because it is so easy to post information on the Internet.
November Learning is also a good source for information literacy. Of particular note, they suggest reading the URL. If it contains the % or ~ symbols, it is posted by an individual and not an organization.
Great comment! Thanks so much. I am pasting in the last sentence of your comment to reinforce its importance as well as the fact that it is a clever, fast, and easy trick that students can use to help evaluate a source. I did not think to include it and appreciate your adding it to the list!
Recopied from Michael’s reply (just as one more reminder)
Of particular note, they suggest reading the URL. If it contains the % or ~ symbols, it is posted by an individual and not an organization.