Whether young or old, frequent or intermittent user of the Web, there is a skill that is missing among many users of the Internet. The ability to evaluate online resources for credibility.
The problem was so rampant with freshman and sophomore students that Acadia University created an interactive online program to help Web users learn some of the skills necessary to check the reliability of their online resources. The Website is called Credible Sources Count.
What I like about this Website is that not only are the activities interactive, but you are able to see the results for all possible choices. This way, whether you chose right or wrong, you can see what the result would have been if you made a different choice.
While the site does not go in-depth into the topic, it is an excellent introduction on how to evaluate Web resources. Even though it was written for college students to use, it is accessible enough for students 9th grade and up to use as well.
I apologize for the length between my posts. While I was very lucky compared to other victims of Hurricane Sandy, I was without power for over a week. I hope all my readers are doing well, especially those in the NorthEast whom may have been impacted by this event.
Last year I shared an article with my staff regarding how Encyclopedia Brittanica was going out of print and the reliability of Wikipedia. Even though the article is going on a year old, the information it discusses is still relevant.
Encyclopedias, Wikipedia and Times Topic Pages: Research Resources and Ideas was written with the intent of helping younger children to better their online searching and evaluation skills; however, the lessons can be easily modified for older students.
This article will be of interest to parents as well. The lessons discussed in the article can help your child to recognize unsafe Websites when they are searching alone.
We’ve all been there. An e-mail comes in our mailbox claiming a friend’s child has cancer, but you can help because the hospital will take money off of their bill for every hundred forwards. Another one is that Bill Gates is giving away $100 to the first thousand people to respond to this e-mail. How do you know if it’s true? If a child can be helped, you want too – but, what if it’s a hoax. What if (gasp) you get a virus by going to the site?!
There are a number of places you can go to on the Web which will tell you the answer you are looking for; however, there is one so respected that it is used by librarians around the world. It is Snopes.com – www.snopes.com. Snopes.com is considered to be the best Internet resource for finding the facts about myths, hoaxes, urban legends, current news stories making the rounds that is being debated as factual and other forms of misinformation.
This site is so respected that hoaxers will claim in their e-mails the facts have been validated by Snopes.com on such and such a date. Just click “here” to find out. They have created a clone site for you to go so you believe what they are saying is true. If you see this in an e-mail, DO NOT click on the link they provide or accept their statement as accurate. Just type in www.snopes.com into a new browser page and check for yourself.
It is easy, type a few key words into Snopes.com’s search field. You will receive a hit of all the items that matched your criteria on their Website. Most often, you will see the exact wording used in your e-mail or in the “story” you’ve heard about. Snopes.com will tell you what parts of the text are true and what parts are false. You will be provided with dates and links to supporting documentation or citations of the print sources where you can find the information for yourself.
The only negative part I have found in using the Website is that there is always a pop up ad when you first enter the homepage. Usually it is for a harmless company like Netflix, but it is still annoying. I guess one can’t complain since it is such an easy and free way to accurately verify information. Also, you can always turn on your pop up blocker. 😉
So if you want to check up on the story your student/child told you, need to know if the e-mail your friend sent you is true, the newest virus e-mails making the rounds or just curious is that story you heard about so and so on the news correct, Snopes.com is the place for you.