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.
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.
Summer is over, but your family can still travel virtually to out-of-town museums by visiting one of the web-based museum portals described below. Each leads to a wide range of museums close by and around the world. Some of the sites feature travel information as well as museums.
While it is easy to search for the larger, most well-known museums, these search sites can help people find hidden museum gems. Becoming familiar with these museum portals gives parents and students an additional bonus — museums are great resources for students to use when they work on school reports and projects. Below are four sites that provide hours of fun, not to mention unlimited information. Continue reading →
When we were students we learned to write content-filled essays and reports. Our teachers taught us to introduce the important facts, facts we discovered using quality reference materials. With today’s websites a student follows the same rules, but reliability is a significant issue. While it is easy to find sites with information about a topic, identifying reliable and significant information is more of a challenge. The trick is to identify information that indicates whether or not a site is a reliable resource. Do not let your child use a site as a resource unless it is possible to determine its quality.
Many websites look both real and reliable, but they are bogus. A fun website to explore is at based at the Western Australia Province Department of Education. It features bogus websites designed to look accurate and authoritative. Except that they are not accurate or authoritative. Take a few minutes to explore. Better yet, explore them with your children.
Evaluate the Web Sites that You Use
Be sure you use sites with accurate and reliable information. If you have a research project or your child has a homework assignment plan to evaluate each website to ensure its quality. Also please read the following tips describing how to evaluate web-based information.
Ten Tips to Ensure that the Information is Useful and Accurate