Magazine article Information Today

Keeping Promises and All That CRAAP

Magazine article Information Today

Keeping Promises and All That CRAAP

Article excerpt

Sometimes it's about what we teach others, and sometimes it's about what we learn for ourselves. Articles from Computers in Libraries (CIL) and Internet@Schools (I@S) give an example from each scenario. But both have a similar agenda: helping users, be they students accessing the web for assignments or those who are accessing a site for nonscholastic endeavors.

Getting Testy

Cara Berg, a reference librarian and co-coordinator of user education at William Patterson University, begins her I@S feature with this short, sweet, and right-on statement: "Website evaluation is now a vital, lifelong learning skill." While Berg's article is about working with first-year college students to familiarize them with how to evaluate websites, they aren't the only ones who need to learn this skill. Any library wants its patrons to be educated, savvy online users. For Berg, online aptitude begins with the CRAAP test.

Berg's goal for students is to get them to understand what they are searching for, whether for academic work or personal use. Key to this comprehension is learning how to determine the credibility of different sources and to recognize the facts that can influence this credibility. The students need to discover that there are a variety of sources and media formats, become aware of why content assessment is crucial, and realize that their own biases can color how they evaluate content.

The CRAAP acronym (adapted from California State University-Chico) stands for the components of the evaluation process: currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose. After employing CRAAP for several semesters as part of the library's instruction and orientation course, the staffers thought that the evaluation piece of the course was being rushed and was not getting the desired results on the students' end. The library did some tweaking and introduced a "flipped" format that is less lecture-based. This format is one that any library can follow when hosting a website evaluation seminar.

Here is how the 75-minute session works: Students are given an article from a website to evaluate. It is presented in PowerPoint via a "chunked" lecture so staffers can address each segment of CRAAP. Currency is determined by having students find out how recently content has been posted on the site-and so on down through the final piece, in which students try to ascertain the site's purpose. The presentation wraps up with an overall assessment of the site.

When this version of the course instruction was evaluated through a survey sent out 2 months after the students completed the course, the library staff got the sought-after results. The students were better able to retain what they had learned and in more specific terms. Most were able to identify all five parts of the CRAAP evaluation process. This made the library staff confident that they had given their students a good foundation for measuring website reliability that will extend well past their college days.

UX Accuracy

The March issue's title of Practical Technology, the column Jessamyn West writes for CIL, is "Keep Your Promises for a Better User Experience." And since her readers are, largely, librarians, West begins by asserting that poor tech support--whether by cable or phone companies or other big organizations--not only inhibits "digital readiness," but "exacerbates the digital divide. …

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