Evaluating Internet Resources

Evaluating Internet Resources
There’s lots of good information on the Internet, but you will
also find opinions misconceptions, and inaccurate information.


How do you judge
the quality of Internet resources?

” verifiability ” of information.
Verifiability Link °Wiki


Do you believe everything you read? How gullible are you? There are people who
believe that we never walked on the moon and that the Holocaust never happened, so be careful when you read a web page. The
truth is out there, but so is the lie.

Look for what Wikipedia calls the
” verifiability ” of information. You should be able to check the material you find against
other reliable sources . Content that is likely to be challenged should contain multiple sources of evidence that have been carefully cited.

[[Read Wicked or Wonderful:
Revisiting Wikipedia by Annette
Lamb. Think about the value and challenges of using Wikipedia.]]
Criteria for Evaluation


Students need to learn to evaluate the quality of information they find on the web
as well as other information resources such as books, magazines, CD-ROM, and
television. Ask students to be skeptical of everything they find. Encourage them to compare and contrast different information
resources. Consider the following ideas: Authority. Who says? Know the author. Who created this information and why?
Do you recognize this author or their work? What knowledge or skills do they have in the
Is he or she stating fact or opinion? What else has this author written?
Does the author acknowledge other viewpoints and theories?
Objectivity. Is the information biased? Think about perspective.
Is the information objective or subjective?

Is it full of fact or opinion?
Does it reflect bias? How?
How does the sponsorship impact theperspective of the information?

Are a balance of perspectives represented? Could the information be meant as
humorous, a parody, or satire?
Authenticity. Is the information authentic?

Know the source.
Where does the information originate?
Is the information from an established
Has the information been reviewed by others
to insure accuracy?

Is this a primary source or secondary source
of information?

Are original sources clear and documented?
Is a bibliography provided citing the sources used?

Is this information accurate?
Consider the origin of the information.
Are the sources truth worthy? How do youknow?
Who is sponsoring this publication?
Does the information come from a school, business, or company site?

What’s the purpose of the information resource: to inform, instruct, persuade, sell?
Does this matter?
What’s their motive?

Timeliness . Is the information current?
Consider the currency and timeliness of the information.
Does the page provide information about
timeliness such as specific dates of information?
Does currency of information matter with your particular topic?
How current are the sources or links?

Is the information helpful? Think
about whether you need this information.
Does the information contain the breadth and depth needed?
Is the information written in a form that is useable (i.e. reading level, technical level)?
Is the information in a form that is useful such as words, pictures, charts, sounds, or video?

Do the facts contribute something new or
add to your knowledge of the subject?

Will this information be useful to your project?

Is this information worth the
effort? Think about the organization and speed of information access.
Is the information well-organized including a table of contents, index, menu, and other
easy-to-follow tools for navigation?

Is the information presented in a way that is easy to use (i.e., fonts, graphics, headings)?
Is the information quick to access?
Finding Website Evaluation Information
As you explore information on the web, keep in mind that there are many different types of
information from research data to opinions.
Start with an overview of the contents of the page. Can you determine the purpose and
audience of the page? Does the page focus on information, news, advocacy, sales, or a mixture?
Search for Clues . Start by examining the page itself. Look at the web address (URL).
What kind of domain
(.edu, .gov, .org, .net, .com) is it? This doesn’t always help, but it may provide an indication of the sponsor. Is it a government
site, school resource, museum, commercial or private web project? Try to determine who
published the page. Is it an individual or an agency? Can you find a name attached to
the page?

Look at the core page for the
entire website (everything between the http://
and the first /) and see who sponsored the site and how information was selected. You
might also try truncating the website address to see each level between slashes.
Sometimes you can answer these questions by reading the creation information at the bottom of the main page. Look for a name,
organization, or email address. If you can’t find the answer there, see if you can locate a page that tells “about the website.”
Sometimes there’s a “contact us” page. The author of the page and the webmaster may or may not be the same person.
For information about the content of the page, look for a link to an author biography, philosophy, or background information.
Another hint about the quality of the website is the copyright date. When was the page
originally posted? When was the last time the page was updated? This information is generally at the bottom of each page or at
least the first page of the website.
Look for sponsors . Does the site use banner sponsors? What do they sell? Is a well-
known organization a sponsor? Consider whether the site’s sponsors could impact the
perspective to the website. In most cases, a company wants the information at their site
to reflect positively on them.
Ask Questions.
If you still can’t determine
the quality of the information, consider emailing the webmaster and asking about the site’s content. Students will be amazed
at the range of answers that will be provided. Some webmasters post anything that’s given to them, while others are experts
in a content area field.

Track Backward and Forward. Another way to learn more about a website is to see “who
links to them” and “who they link to.” Use a search engine to search for the “URL” or
author of the website in question. Does it appear on a “favorites” list? If so, whose list? Is this list credible? If the site has won
an award, what’s the criteria for the award and how is the award given? You can also
track forward. In other words, look at the links that are used by the web developer of
your site. Do they go to good or poor quality sites? Is this website cited in subject guides such as About.com or Librarian’


s Index?
Cross-Check Data.
In addition to the act of
evaluating a single page, students also need
to learn to cross-check information. In other
words, there should be three independent resources confirming each pieces of questionable data. This cross-checking can
be done different ways. For example, if students are creating a graphic organizer, they could star each item that has been
doubled or triple checked. Consider using a variety of information formats including
encyclopedia, magazine articles, videos, experts, and web pages.
Filtering Information
When filtering information, students need to understand the spectrum of options between
fact and opinion. Issues of perspective, point
of view, and bias must be discussed. One of the advantages of using the Internet with students is the availability of so many examples.


Students can see misinformation and propaganda in action. Give students the opportunity to question their findings and
discuss their concerns. The following websites provide interesting activities to get
you students thinking about the quality of information on the Internet.

Web Evaluation Tools
Critical Evaluation Tools from Kathy Schrock
Website Evaluation Form (PPT), Evaluation
Activity (PPT), and Student Sample (PPT)
Evaluation Wizard (PPT)
Web Evaluation Activities
Evaluating Web Pages: Experience WHY
it’s important . This great activity asks students to explore online resources to determine why evaluation is so important. Be
sure to check out the Hints and Tips for each topic. Try their evaluation pdf form.

Truth, Lies, and the Internet – This excellent article explores the issue of truth on the web
and provides dozens of excellent examples of hoaxes, myths, and other interesting Internet issues.
Example Sets: sites and sets of sites that
are good for practicing evaluation
Set 1 (Smoking & Tobacco, AIDS,
Immigration, Drugs)
Set 2 (Latin, Mayan Calendar, Gun Control,
Cloning, Immigration, Aspartame)
Web Evaluation
ALA Great Websites Selection Criteria
Evaluation Links from Kathy Schrock
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – this one
is nice because it provides examples of each
criteria; criteria, example set
Critical Evaluation of Resources – criteria for evaluation
Comparing and Evaluating Web Information
Sources. Jamie McKenzie
Evaluating Quality on the Net – Hope N.
What Makes a Good Website?
Evaluatng Websites from Cornell
World Wide Web Page Evaluation Form –
designed for middle school
Cyberbee and web design evaluation
Lessons on Evaluating Sources
Research Building Blocks: Examining
Electronic Sources (Grades 3-5) from
Links to Web Evaluation Links Pages
Evaluation of Information Resources

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