Sunday, November 24, 2013

The 5Ws of Website Evaluation

Assignment 720 - Discussion Director Response/Classroom Integration

E-Journal - Week on November 18, 2013

Evaluating the Accuracy of Materials - Evaluating websites.

Today’s lesson focussed on evaluating websites for credibility and accuracy.  Not everything we read is the truth, especially when we are reading online.  

The objective is to make students aware of the need to look at online information critically, and to have them apply a set of guidelines to determine the usability and credibility of a website.

The method for website evaluation my students will use is the 5Ws (Who, What, When, Where, and Why).

Classroom discussion and student participation is encouraged to make the evaluation of websites meaningful and relevant for the students.  After introducing the lesson, I prompted students to share experiences of situations in which they found online information to be questionable.   The responses I received pointed sharply at their frustration in finding information they could use.  Most students never considered that websites could be wrong and misleading.   Many relied on websites their teachers had given them for information.

In the classroom, a poster of the 5Ws of Website Evaluation is prominently displayed. I began by sharing a video, and The 5Ws of Website Evaluation checklist.

After the video, we began to review each step of the 5Ws.  During the “What step”, the concept of bias surfaced.  Students were unsure of what bias meant. Bias is an important concept for students to grasp as they venture through various online sources, especially when determining the credibility and usefulness of websites produced by organizations.  As a class, we looked at This organization promotes year round schooling. Students were drawn and interested in learning about what educators and parents have to say about going to school year round. We looked for information on the website that showed why year round school may not be good.  We concluded that the website only presented information that supported year round schooling.  The website was a good way of showing how “.org” websites may only present information that supports their organization’s views, and therefore may be considered biased. I plan to revisit the topic of “bias” with my students. It is an important concept for students to understand and is valuable in helping them become discerning users of online information.

We proceeded to review the 5Ws of Website Evaluation checklist.  Students were asked to use the checklist in their evaluation of three websites:

The Tree octopus  

Google Search Technology

During this activity, it was interesting to see students comb through the websites and apply the 5 Ws. Students discussed the ability of octopi to live in trees and the speed of which Google's trained pigeons returned search results.  

As part of their larger learning unit, students will be asked to apply the skills they’ve learned in this lesson to their online research task.

In Colin Harrison’s, Thirteen Ways at looking at a Blackboard Chapter 38a of the New Literacies Handbook, Harrison analyzes a study conducted by Rachel A. Karchmer, The Journey Ahead, Chapter 38 of New Literacies Handbook (page 1241). Harrison reflects on how technology has changed literacy and teaching practices.  Harrison notes  that today’s Internet availability, and the ease of connecting to the Internet for both students and teachers creates an increasing need to confirm and check the information we find on the Internet. I agree with Harrison. Evaluating the veracity of websites is an essential New Literacy skill that are students need to practice in order for them to become Internet literate.