Head-Royce School
Technology Department
Karen Bradley
Last updated
12 November, 2001

      Evaluating Web Sites:
Help for Teachers and Students






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Why Learn How to Evaluate Web Sites?
Evaluating Web Sites is an increasingly important skill for users of the Internet.
--enormously rich resources are available
--misleading, factually incorrect, intellectually suspect, downright scary sources are available as well.
--The Internet is like the world's biggest archive combined with the world's biggest scrap heap.
Therefore, it is critical that users learn how to distinguish credible information from information trash.

How is the Internet different from a library?
--There is LOTS more information available on the Internet than in any physical library
--The information is not comprehensively catalogued, although there are directory services that try
--The information is not pre-screened for anybody's collection (which can be both a pro and a con)
--There are relatively few barriers to entry (which can be both a pro and a con)

How Do you Begin Evaluating Sources?
--There are five widely accepted criteria :

    1. Accuracy
    2. Authority
    3. Objectivity
    4. Currency
    5. Coverage

See Susan E. Beck's web site on Evaluation from New Mexico State University Library

How Do You Teach Evaluation Skills to Students?
--Take time to discuss the issue
--show students examples of poor information on the web masking as good information
--be a stickler for complete information about websites from students (a url is not enough!)
--craft Internet assignments that teach students to think critically about their sources.
See Susan E. Beck's Suggestions for Successful Internet Assignments

Other useful web evaluation sites (a few from MANY that are available)
Web Site Evaluation: George Pilling's presentation from Computer Using Educators' Conference.
Mr. Pilling is the Supervisor of Library Media Services, Visalia Unified School District.
His web page is a compilation of web evaluation resources. Some of his references are better
than others.
Teaching undergrads WEB Evaluation
: by Jim Kapoun, reference and instruction librarian at
Southwest State University (MI). Mr. Kapoun's version covers the five criteria in a handy table format.
Checklist for a News Web Page: compiled by J. Alexander and M. Tate, Wolfgram Memorial Library,
Widener University, Chester, PA. Same criteria, different way of asking the questions.
Evaluating Materials on the Internet: Karl E. Mundt Library, Dakota State University, Madison SD.
Succinctly presens the problem with searching the Internet and proposed the "suspicious" approach
to searching. "Making a first pass at evaluating a web page" is followed by the familiar five criteria.

Next!! Search Engines, Web Directories and Boolean Inquiries:
How the Heck Do I Find What I Want On the Internet?
TuesdayDecember 4 3:30-4:30 in the Upper School Mac Lab