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Sandy Scragg's Evaluating Web Sites

Teacher Training Home

When using the Internet in class, it's important to do your research on the links you include for class use.

What's odd about this site? http://martinlutherking.org/

Don't censor, but use good judgement. You're not Big Brother, and shouldn't be. Older students, especially, need access to rich information, primary resources, and archival data found online. If something is obviously offensive, nix it.

Reading-level check. You've found a great site on dinosaurs for your class...but will they be able to understand it? Make sure the resources you find are age-appropriate.

Don't depend on the filter! If you think screens or filters will weed out all inappropriate material, you're wrong. Filters work like "Google" and screen out pages by searching for words contained on the web pages that school administrators find offensive or dangerous. They're often inaccurate. For example, after 9/11, students at Murry Bergtraum High School, 6 blocks away from the World Trade Center, could not do online research on the event that so directly impacted them because sites containing the word "terrorism" were blocked. Students in my old college prep class were inexplicably banned from the College Board's website, preventing them from registering online for the SAT. On the other hand, I was present at a school meeting (luckily no students were present) where a porn pop-up covered our web browser.

Not all sites ending in .org or .edu contain unbiased material. Of course, there's the example at the top of the page. Schools and organizations have diverse opinions that you may not want coming into your classroom, especially when students are doing research or trying to distinguish between fact and opinion. A site with a tilde (~) in the address usually indicates that this page is maintained or created by an individual, rather than representing an organization, a business, or a school.

Test links from sites you choose. Perhaps you find a great site with material appropriate for your students. Job done, right? No--test links not only to see if they work, but to see if they lead to another site that may not be as appropriate.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: http://lib.nmsu.edu/instruction/eval.html

How to Tell if you're looking @ a good web site: http://ala.org/Content/NavigationMenu/ALSC/Great_Web_Sites_for_Kids/

A web quest on evaluating web sites: http://mciunix.mciu.k12.pa.us/~spjvweb/evalwebteach.html


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