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.
When we adults were students, we learned to write content-filled essays and reports, introducing the important facts about a subject. We discovered these facts by using quality reference materials, often at a library.
With today’s digitized resources and websites, a student follows roughly the same routine, but resource reliability is a significant issue. While it’s easy to find sites with information about a topic, identifying reliable and significant information is more of a challenge. The trick is to discover whether or not a site is a reliable resource.
Help your child determine the quality and reliability of a site before using it as a digital resource. The University of Maryland posts this short handout that explains how to go about evaluating a website.
Many sites appear to be real as well as reliable, but they are bogus. An entertaining website for you and your child to explore features bogus websitesdesigned to look accurate and authoritative. Except that they aren’t. Take a few minutes to explore these bogus sites.