July 17, 2002
Teaching kids about criticizing online sources

The Washington Post has a very interesting article on how young students are or may be losing the capability of criticizing the sources of information online: Point. Click. Think?

When students do come across something of interest, they may not be able to detect the author's bias because Web prose, unlike the writing in serious books and journals, often appears with only the slimmest of attribution, if any. This can introduce a certain naivete into their writing.

The Net has a kind of magical quality that leads younger students to say to librarians [...], "It has to be true. If it weren't true, they wouldn't let it be there." [...] "I have to tell them there is no 'they.' "

This, of course, is not a completely new problem but obviously a growing one, as it is so easy to netcheck topics of dicsussion etc. Online, I prefer referring to sources I know have a certain credibility (like Wired, CNN, MSNBC etc) plus sites with a decent "PageRank" in Google. Specialty portals with editorial content (like about.com (pop-up ads alert...)) and good weblogs also add context to collections of links.

Mine is an aquired search-pattern, however, and the article clearly indicated that many young students lack maturity in dealing with online sources. Schools and libraries seems to have a long way to go to educate students that there is no "they" online overseeing correctness...

Additional information: other people's comments on this article: as seen by daypop.com and Blogdex

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andersja's blog: Time travelling stock traders? (March 28, 2003 04:10 PM)
"Repeat after me: criticize online sources, criticize online sources, criticize online sources..."

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