Posted by: eheino | September 2, 2013

Website Evaluation

A combination of reliability, educational and technical criteria should be used to evaluate websites.

Different combinations should be used depending on the purpose the website will be used for.

Educational Criteria

Educational criteria are the key criteria for evaluating websites because no matter how technically advanced or how reliable the site is, if it is not suitable for the particular purpose, then it should not be used (Herring, 2011).

TL needs to know from the teacher what purpose the sites will be used for to decide what criteria are most important for the website to be selected.

The key educational criteria are related to the following questions.

  • Does the site meet the TL’s or teacher’s purpose?
  • What is the range of reading levels of the student group for whom the website is being considered?
  • Does the site contain activities for students?
  • Does the site allow for differentiation?
  • Will the site extend the learning of the student group?

Cyberguides Rating

We were asked to consider the Cyberguides worksheet for website evaluation and assess its usefulness:

It mentions a large number of criteria that the website can be assessed on, but it isn’t weighted very clearly. Some things are more important than others and the tool doesn’t really allow for that.

The tool is very easy and simple to use and understand, but more educational criteria need to be added for use in a school setting.

Need to consider one-two clicks off the website, to ensure students aren’t ending up on inappropriate sites.

Reliability

The key to ascertaining a site’s reliability is to ask yourself:

To what extent do I trust this site? or To what extent is this site biased?

Sites that are not trustworthy, or have an unreasonable amount of bias should not be used by students. Staff should not select websites with bias unless they are teaching students about bias.

Some questions to ask in order to find out the above information are:

Who wrote this site and what are their credentials?

Has the author cited their sources? Are their sources reliable?

Who sponsors the site? Will that affect the content?

Technical Criteria

I think Shrock’s surveys provide some excellent questions to consider regarding technical criteria. Some other criteria to consider might be:

Does the site require special software to work correctly? (Eg. Flash Player, Java)

Does the site work correctly in the school browser?

Do portions of the site require payment to use them?

Are the ads on the page appropriate for students?

My thoughts:

I didn’t realise there were so many important things to consider when selecting websites for students to use. Each of the three categories: Educational, Reliabilty and Technical all have important points to consider. I agree with Herring that in a school context the most important criteria should be educational criteria. If the website does not contain educational content that is appropriate for particular students, then it should not be selected. It doesn’t matter if they meet reliability and technical criteria. Schrock’s 5 W’s (2013) provides a good system for younger students to use when evaluating websites themselves, whereas Baraclow’s (2003) CARS framework would work better for secondary students in my opinion.

References:

Barcalow, T. (2003). CARS: Evaluating websites. Retrieved http://lrs.ed.uiuc.edu/students/tbarcalow/490NET/Evaluation.htm

Herring, J. (2011). Improving students web use and information literacy: A guide for teachers and teacher librarians. London: Facet Publishing.

Schrock, K. (2013). The 5Ws of website evaluation: For students. Retrieved June 7, 2013 from http://kathyschrock.net/abceval/5ws.pdf

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