This is in regards to the AASL Information Literacy Standard No. 2, which states: "The student who is information literate evaluates information critically and competently." (American Library Association American Association of School Libraries, "Information Power: Building partnerships for learning.")
Not all sources are reliable or of equal quality. The information may be incorrect or based on outdated information. With the advent of the World Wide Web and the huge amount of information that is found there, you need to be able to critically evaluate a webpage for authorship, authority, bias, currency, applicability, and usability. The ability to examine information in order to determine its usefulness is an important skill in this information age.
As a Grant High student, you may be asking yourself, why do I need to know this or how does this apply to me. JSerra academics are structured to teach you to how to find and apply academic sources. When you get to college, professors will require your use of college-level academic sources only. We are preparing you for success in college.
How to Read a URL: Uniform Record Locator.
What do URLs mean? Do you know how to read them? The domain name and extension can help you establish authorship or authority of the info on the webpage, or it can tell you what kind of file it is.
Domain Names and IP Numbers.
www.jserra.org is our domain name, an IP address is a series of 4 numbers from 0 to 255. This IP address is the same thing as the domain name. An IP can look like: 126.96.36.199. The domain name and IP address are registered and can be traced to find out who owns them.
We will not go into protocols here, but the most common protocol that we have all seen is http://..... there is also ftp:// and others that are far less common and more specific.
The computer domain name is also the IP number. The domain or IP is similar to your house address.
The pathname is on the domain's hard disk and simply tells the computer where to look for the information – like a directory or sub-directory.
The filename.ext is is the name of the desired file. The ".ext" tells the web browser how to handle the file. For example, the file could be .jpg or .gif—what are those types of files? .html or .htm is Hyper Text Markup Language – in other words, a webpage. .zip is a compressed file. .wav, .au, .aif – are sound/audio files. etc.
REMEMBER —in a URL there is never a blank space…... there would be an underscore like "bobby_jones.html".
COMMON DOMAIN NAME Identifiers:
.com (U.S. commercial), .gov, .us (U.S. government or state),
.edu, .org (U.S. educational and supposed to be non-profit – not all are),
.museum, .info (corporate info site), .biz, .kids,
URLs are one way to interpret a webpage. When you have a long URL, you can snip away at the URL to get to its truncated version, or its root page.
Look at the bottom of the page for the author or editor, and look for an "About" link on the page.
Is there an author and what is that person's qualifications?
Who is the sponsor of the webpage? Are there links to the author or sponsor?
To determine the origin of a page, look for headers or footers, URLs, and domains.
To search the internet looking for an author of a page, you can use google and search for the name without quotes (John Smith), search for the name in quotes ("John Smith"), or search for use quotes and an to indicate a middle initial or name ("John Smith").
Look for dates on webpages to establish how current the information is and/or how often it is updated. Depending on your topic, currency can be very important or not as important.
Now, let's look at a couple webpages. Go to the root of this page: Who.Int.
Look at this page—do you think it looks like good factual information just off the top of your head? Look at the URL — what information can you get from that? Let's snip away at the URL to get to its root to find out who published this information, and then see what you think about it.
Now let's use this domain look-up search engine to find out who is writing the Martin Luther King page: WhoIs.
The page is being written by an organization called Stormfront—let's look them up: Stormfront.
Look at this page and lets try to found out who is writing this information: IHR.
Search for the domain's registration by using WhoIs: EasyWhoIs.
On the Internet, no one knows you are a dog. See: Dog.
What does this symbol (~) a tilde mean when used in a URL? Let’s look at this website: Guido.
Other ways a personal webpage is identified in a URL is if you see a sign, or the words Users, Members, or People.
Currently, no web standards exist to ensure accuracy of information posted on webpages.
Undated pages are just suspicious as anonymous pages. There is SO much information on the internet – move on and look for something you can trust. When looking at a page, try to determine WHY the author put this content there….is it to educate? to persuade? to sell?
And what is the TONE? is it humorous, serious, argumentative….?
To Wiki or Not to Wiki?
Let’s talk about Wikipedia for a moment. You should never use Wikipedia as an authoritative reference source. Anyone can make changes to pages on Wikipedia. Even its creator, Jimmy Wales, warns students not to use it as an academic source. Look at this article: Article.
Another thing: An editorial in USA Today revealed that a Wikipedia article implicated John Seigenthaler Sr. in the assassinations of John and Bobby Kennedy. See this link: USA.
It turns out this information was posted as a joke. This was revealed in several news sources, including BBC news. See this link: BBC.
Wikipedia even has an entry on this controversy. See this link: Wikipedia.
Article from the New York Times warning about use of Wikipedia: NYT.
Here is a great discussion about the edit-ability of Wikipedia. If you wonder what the author's final take is on the subject of whether or not Wikipedia should be used as an academic source - read his last paragraph. Wiki or Not?
You can look up the traffic for a webpage by looking at: Alexa.com and putting the domain name in the search box: Alexa.
Conduct google link searches. Look up domain names (whois.net) to verify authorship and currency.
Google Link Searches (internal external links): GoogleLinks
Link to WhoIs: Whois.
Pages that provide Links to other pages are more useful than those that do not. Along with links, check to see if there are footnotes on the page or if a bibliography is provided.
For a link to the article called “The ABCs of Website Evaluation” see this link: Evaluation.
For a link to the article called “Critical Evaluation of a Website – Secondary School Level” see this link: Checklist.
We are going to use this checklist to evaluate a webpage. See also see: Eduscapes.