Posted in 21st Century Learning, 21st Century life, evaluating web site resources, information credibility, parents and technology

Building Habits of Evaluation into the Conversation & the Curriculum

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21st Century Vocabulary Words – Evaluation

A few days ago at the public library, I overheard two teachers talking excitedly about a curriculum unit that they were developing. As the discussion progressed, they also began noting their frustration with the cavalier attitudes students demonstrate toward online resources. I was not surprised by the conversation.

Young people who are growing up today seem to navigate effortlessly through digital materials—learning resources, games, publications, websites, and apps—but we adults often forget their limited fluency when it comes to identifying the quality, reliability, and credibility of information. If they are to become good evaluators kids need lots of practice and plenty of time spent observing adult models.

As the educators continued talking, I thought about two 21st Century learning vocabulary words—evaluation and credibility—and mulled over how we get young people, in an age of unlimited content and information, to develop stronger habits of evaluation.
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Posted in 21st Century Learning, digital learning, digital parenting, evaluating web site resources, online research, parents and technology, research on the web

10 Ways to Help Students Evaluate Digital Information

goodwebsitebadwebsiteAlthough I am a big fan of encouraging students to begin any research project with curated resources such as the online databases at a school or public library, I know that many learners head straight for Google.

When students make garden-variety searches on Google, teach them to investigate and ask questions about what they find, especially if they are planning to use a website to learn more about a topic. The strongest 21st Century learners will make the process of asking evaluative questions second nature — examining each and every site before deciding whether or not to use the information.

Questions to Ask About Any Digital Resource          Continue reading “10 Ways to Help Students Evaluate Digital Information”

Posted in 21st Century Learning, choosing reliable resources, digital learning, evaluating web site resources, parents and technology, research on the web, Wikipedia

A Book About Wikipedia to Read With Children

Image from the Barnes and Noble website.
Image from the Barnes and Noble website.

Wikipedia is cool, Wikipedia is filled with information, and Wikipedia is great fun to visit.

That said, reminding children about the authority of references and the expertise of authors — whenever children begin research — is an important part of teaching and parenting. A critical 21st Century and life skill is understanding how to go about judging the quality of references and especially learning how to figure out when information is not up to snuff.

If students start out a project by looking up a topic on Wikipedia, and many of them do, they should hear — over and over at every age — about the importance of seeking out and reading other resources to confirm the facts. Adults, too, need to make this a habit.

truth in numbers
Image from Amazon site.

A new book, Wikipedia: 3.5 Million Articles and Counting, offers parents and educators a great opportunity to read together and learn more — lots more — about Wikipedia. Author Heather Hasan writes in detail about the history and philosophy of this mammoth open-source encyclopedia, explaining how Wikipedia works and describing how the editors keep track of new entries, edits, and re-edits.

Hasan points out the ways that Wikipedia writers occasionally argue over topics, and she notes that editors often decide to lock down a subject or entry. Other short sections of the book share Wikipedia facts and myths, a glossary, and several pages of bibliographic references.

If you read this book with children in your family or students in your class, be sure to have continuing conversations, both while reading the book and afterwards, about the importance of expertise and authority, pointing out that another reason to confirm the facts — aside from worrying about misinformation — is to learn whether even the experts disagree.

An excellent Wikipedia documentary, Truth in Numbers, is available at Amazon and includes interviews with many of the people who have helped the Internet to develop and grow — the movers and shakers of the World Wide Web.

Posted in 21st Century Learning, digital learning, digital parenting, evaluating web site resources, family conversations, online research, parents and technology, teaching digital kids

Help Students Evaluate Digital Sources-Howard Rheingold Video

Rheingold’s vision of a person’s personal trust network copied from the video.

Teaching children to evaluate resources and determine credibility is the biggest challenge of our 21st Century world. Until now authoritative textbooks have dominated the world of education, but not anymore.

In the video below, Howard Rheingold, the digital thinker, professor (Stanford and UC Berkeley), and personal learning network advocate, describes how parents and educators should help students develop the ability to ask questions when they discover digital information, thereby evaluating the quality or lack of it. Rheingold calls this “crap detection,” a term originally coined by Ernest Hemmingway.

We need to teach kids, Rheingold points out, “how to search and how to find” and how to be sure that what is found is of good quality. The long-range goal is for each individual to develop what Rheingold calls a “personal trust network.”

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Posted in great sites for students, homework, parents and technology, web research

Evaluating Websites: Be Sure of the Quality

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

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