Article Reflection: “The ABCs of Website Evaluation”, March 25, 2008

In Day 4 of Information Literacy, we were asked to read “Teaching Media Literacy in the Age of the Internet:  The ABCs of Website Evaluation”, an article from 2002 by noted educator Kathy Shrock.  In this article, Shrock points out that a media specialist is not ever-present on the web to help users determine the quality of a particular website.   She identifies 26 criteria to help teachers and students evaluate the credibility and authority of a website. 

What struck me most about this article is how similar these criteria are to those we use to assess print materials, yet how many people think about this as they surf the web?  It is amazing how many people assume that if it is on the web, then the information must be true and correct.  I wonder why this assumption comes to easily to so many people?

Criteria identified included:  authority, bias, citations, dates, efficiency, fallacy, graphics, handicapped access, information availability, Jerry-Built (meaning “built poorly of cheap materials”), knowledge, links, misinformation, navigability, online research models, pertinence, quantity of information, requirements, scholastic reviews, theorists, uniqueness, verifiable, the five Ws,  and “xtra information.”

I wonder what criteria would she add or take away to this list now in 2008?  She also cites Paul Gilster’s definition of digital literacy:  “the ability to understand and use information in multiple formats from a wide range of sources when it is presented via computers.”  I somehow doubt she would cite this definition now, but I am wondering how she would define digital literacy.  Elease Franchini found this updated version at http://kathyschrock.net/abceval/ (last updated January 2007), but it did not seem to address the last part of the written article.

How far have we come in teaching our patrons how to evaluate website information?  It seems that students (and some teachers) are still sorely lacking in this area.  It is amazing how many teenagers still assume that everything on the web is true and never bother to question the credentials of a particular website or its author(s).   How do we tackle this information literacy challenge in a more effective manner?

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