Choosing Well-"Built" Web Sites

Article excerpt

As Professor of Education and Technology in the Thornton School of Education at Bellarmine University, a liberal arts university in Louisville, Kentucky, I teach technology across the curriculum to preservice and inservice teachers. One facet of this instruction discusses the fact that anyone can publish information on the Web. Web documents do not undergo peer review like printed documents.

To illustrate my point, I direct students to the Online Internet Institute's CyberU at http://oii.org/cyberu/html/ critical.html. The article "If It Is on the Web Is It True?" vividly makes my point. After discussing whether the article is valid or not, I invite the students to scroll to the bottom of the document to find the writer's confession about fabricating the document.

During our discussion of the need for Web evaluation sites, I give my students an assignment to develop such a guide. To help them get started, I provide them with some examples. They come to the next class with documents very similar to those they had previously examined.

After discussing their criteria, I asked: "How many of you will use what you developed?" They looked at each other, but no one raised a hand. Next, I inquired, "How many of you will use it with your students?" Same song, second verse! I then verified with them that the only reason they had done the Web evaluation guide was because I had assigned it.

We next agreed that evaluating Web sites was important. So I posed the question, "How can we get you and other viewers to evaluate Web sites?" I suggested that we build an evaluation guide using the word "BUILT" as an acronym. After completing the initial draft, I asked, "How many of you will use this document?" Everyone in the class raised their hand. From this beginning, I continued refining the evaluation guide, asking colleagues and inservice teachers to critique the document. Everyone expressed high praise for the document; some made suggestions for refinement.

In graduate classes that I taught during the summer I introduced the document. Student responses indicate a high level of acceptance as they used the Web site and accompanying poster to evaluate other Web sites. They indicated they will make use of the model with their students this school year. I have found this to be an effective tool for increasing critical evaluation of web sites. I invite you to share your experience using this material! Please write me at ibaugh@bellarmine.edu, and view my Web site at httpJ/education. bellarmine.edu/ baugh.

A Five-Star Approach

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