Have you ever landed on a website and wondered about the accuracy? Or have your students landed on a site that the credibility is questionable for use in their research? How can you eliminate the mystery surrounding website accuracy and credibility?
Using a fake site is a fun way to teach website evaluation skills, as the students are almost solving a mystery. There are clues within the site that will lead them to discover the truth of real or fake. There are even special tools that can be used to help solve the mystery. A good list has been collected by Dr. Mary Ann Bell athttp://www.shsu.edu/lis_mah/documents/TCEA/hoaxtable.html. Aditi Rao has published on techbytes a list of 11 at https://teachbytes.com/2012/11/01/test-website-evaluation-with-10-hilarious-hoax-sites/. One of my favorites is Broilerplate.
Examine the clues
One of the first clues to a website mystery, might just be in the URL/website address. Let’s use
my Boilerplate site as an example. If you truncate the URL (take off all the /’s) and look at the main address: bigredhair.com. Obviously “bigredhair”, does not sound very scholarly and add to that the .com signifying a commercial site. These first clues point to a fake/untrustworthy site.
Another set of clues can be unveiled when considering who the author is and what their purpose is this the site. Ask yourself what intent of the author might be: to inform, explain, sell, share, or other. Does it seem to be more opinion or fact? You can check the links on the site and what they connect to as well. All these clues should help lead you to a good deduction of credibility.
What do you think so far? Is the Boilerplate site fake? Sometimes you need more clues to make the determination. A good detective also has useful tools, let’s put some to use and solve this mystery!
Use the tools
RADCAB stands for relevancy, appropriateness, detail, currency, authority and bias. This site has teaching posters and an evaluation rubric students can use.
Imagine Easy Web Academy’s Website Evaluator (http://webeval.ieacademy.com/)
Simply paste the questioned website’s url into the box and click evaluate. The site will lead you through an evaluation process. Examine the purpose, accuracy, authority/author & publisher, relevance, and currency of the website.
For older students I like the C.R.A.A. P. test. It looks at currency, relevance, authority, accuracy and purpose. A great rubric that students can use is located here:http://library.lsco.edu/help/web-page-rubric.pdf.
Now that you have removed the mystery….how did your site score?