Selecting and Integrating World Wide Web Resources
Resources, when used appropriately, should be considered as rich enhancements of a complete educational plan.
|EDUCATIONAL WEBSITE REVIEW GUIDES|
The guide’s in Figure 8.1 and Table 8.1 were designed to demonstrate the similarity of reviewing any educational resources. Ratings can be scored and tallied because websites are more often reviewed by teachers, rather than at the district level, these items may be best used simply as a general guide. Please feel free to modify it to meet your specific needs.
|A FRAMEWORK OF EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES|
The task of sifting through online resources can be a daunting one for teachers, who often have overwhelming professional responsibilities. Finding useful online infor- mation and understanding where it might be integrated into an established cur- riculum can best be accomplished by examining the sites according to a categorical framework. The purpose of this chapter is to assist teachers in locating information, applications (content driven) for information, integrating the information, and eval- uating the resources. The ideas for use suggested here should not be taken as com- prehensive, but are meant only to spur thinking about technology integration.
Educators using the Internet for educational purposes have at the click of a button the ability to locate general educational information, content information, insights into what others have experienced, and research on an unlimited number of topics. Although examples are given to illustrate each category, most web resources could be classified in a number of categories.
The vastness of the World Wide Web can be intimidating. Many times, teachers sim- ply need a safe, informative place to get started. Portal, or jumping off sites, provide links to a great variety of educational resources, from very general to topic specific (Kirkman, Frady, & Walz, 2004). Someone at each sponsoring organization has done the searching footwork, meaning that you can benefit from a convenient organized collection. Portal sites in turn link to other resources.
The distinction should be made here between teacher tools and those meant to be used by students. Teacher tools, such as most of the portal sites in this section, contain lesson plans, teacher discussion boards, and links to other support materi- als, among a great deal of other information. For the most part, these resources are not designed for students. Just as with a nontechnology lesson, the lesson plan is a guide for the teacher to use in planning and implementing the lesson; the students never see the actual plan. These tools should be used by teachers to find lesson ideas, connect with other teachers, get advice on classroom management issues, and access professional development.
|FIGURE 8.1 | Educational website review guide.
Richman (2006) proposed the “Ten C’s” to provide criteria to consider in evaluating Internet resources. Her list is as follows:
What is the intent of the content? Are the title and author identified? Is the content juried? Is the content popular or scholarly, satiric or serious? What is the date of the document or article? Is the edition current? Do you have the latest version? (Is this important?) How do you know?
Is the author identifiable and reliable? Is the content credible? Authoritative? Should it be? What is the purpose of the information, that is, is it serious, satiric, humorous? Is the URL extension .edu,
.com, .gov or .org? What does this tell you about the publisher?
How can you apply critical thinking skills, including previous knowledge and experience, to evaluate Internet resources? Can you identify the author, publisher, edition, etc. as you would with a traditionally published resource? What criteria do you use to evaluate Internet resources?
Even if the copyright notice does not appear prominently, someone wrote, or is responsible for, the creation of a document, graphic, sound or image, and the material falls under the copyright conventions. “Fair use” applies to short, cited excerpts, usually as an example for commentary or research. Materials are in the “public domain” if this is explicitly stated. Internet users, as users of print media, must respect copyright.
Internet resources should be cited to identify sources used, both to give credit to the author and to provide the reader with avenues for further research. Standard style manuals (print and online) provide some examples of how to cite Internet documents, although these standards are not uniform.
Will the Internet site be maintained and updated? Is it now and will it continue to be free? Can you rely on this source over time to provide up-to-date information? Some good .edu sites have moved to .com, with possible cost implications. Other sites offer partial use for free, and charge fees for continued or in-depth use.
Is your discussion list moderated? What does this mean? Does your search engine or index look for all words or are some words excluded? Is this censorship? Does your institution, based on its mission, parent organization or space limitations, apply some restrictions to Internet use? Consider censorship and privacy issues when using the Internet.
If more than one user will need to access a site, consider each users’ access and functionality. How do users connect to the Internet and what kind of connection does the assigned resource require? Does access to the resource require a graphical user interface? If it is a popular (busy) resource, will it be accessible in the time frame needed? Is it accessible by more than one Internet tool? Do users have access to the same Internet tools and applications? Are users familiar with the tools and applications? Is the site “viewable” by all Web browsers?
Does the Internet resource have an identified comparable print or CD ROM data set or source?
Does the Internet site contain comparable and complete information? (For example, some newspapers have partial but not full text information on the Internet.) Do you need to compare data or statistics over time? Can you identify sources for comparable earlier or later data? Comparability of data may or may not be important, depending on your project.
What is the context for your research? Can you find “anything” on your topic, that is, commentary, opinion, narrative, statistics and your quest will be satisfied? Are you looking for current or historical information? Definitions? Research studies or articles? How does Internet information fit in the overall information context of your subject? Before you start searching, define the research context and research needs and decide what sources might be best to use to successfully fill information needs without data overload.
Source: Ten C’s For Evaluating Internet Sources
The Ten C’s were developed between 1991–1996; a revision was made June 19, 2003. For further information contact Betsy Richmond at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please feel free to use (unmodified) with attribution.
|TABLE 8.1 Educational Website Review Guidelines
Documentation and CredibilitySite author information is clearly stated, including name and contact information. Site author has provided credentials, if necessary.
Information sources are indicated, as necessary. Date of latest site revision is provided.
Fees or names are not requested to use site.
Site title represents content.
Content can be used for various learning styles and intelligences. Site has links to other relevant sites.
Information is current and accurate. Content is free of stereotypes or bias. Audience Appeal and Suitability
General appearance of site is appealing to target audience. Language is developmentally appropriate for target audience. Text and graphics are appropriate for target audience.
Ease of Use, Navigation, and Accessibility
Help features and site map are available and easy to access. Information is well organized.
Links back to homepage are included on each succeeding page. Links to other sites are relevant.
Few large graphics increase download speed. Directions given for downloading any needed plug-ins. Site functions in a variety of browsers.
Navigation options are clearly marked and self-explanatory. Spelling, punctuation, and grammar are correct.
Design creates stimulating environment. Design elements are consistent on all pages.