Friday, January 30, 2009

Reflection # 2: Finding information online: How do we address truth and bias in the classroom?

Chris Betcher, a technology coordinator in Sydney, Australia, joined our class via Skype in the afternoon. Chris has his own educational blog Betchablog. He gave many useful tips such as how to refine your Google searches. He also helped us better determine if a site is trustworthy or not. We looked at several sites and videos from the past that fooled people before. I also added a similar video to the collection such as The House Hippo which is an awareness program for people to realize not everything you read or see is true.

We then discussed 5 factors of a good website. These were:

  1. Authority - who is responsible for the site? Are they a well known resource or do you have to look for other clues? Ending in .com or .org doesn't hold much clarification since there is no set standard for this. At least .edu endings have to verify they are actually an educational resource.
  2. Currency - Is the site up to date? Sometimes the information doesn't need to be updated, but this is still something that should be considered.
  3. Content/Purpose - What is on the site and why is it there? Ask yourself some questions, such as, is the site trying to make a profit? If so, the information is likely to be one sided.
  4. Audience - Who is the target audience and does the site's look and feel seem to reach that audience?
  5. Structure/Workability - Is the site user friendly?

I believe another point that should be made is use more than 1-2 sources if looking for specific information. As well, Wikipedia can be a good start since it is a puzzle of information put together from numerous people adding pieces. However, this obviously means that someone can write anything even if it is false. The good news is as others check it they can erase it and correct it. Once you have your general information from Wikipedia you should use other source to verify your findings.

Once you have done all of the above you have to use your good judgment to make the final decision.

My hopes for the course

I hear a lot of these words out there such as wiki's, RSS feeds, and more and feel "oh boy, I need to catch up". I feel like I should learn about this to increase my knowledge and keep up with the times, as well, I hope this can help me enhance my courses that I teach. I honestly hope this will make things more fun, interesting, and time saving. My fear is it will be time consuming and not as useful as I want it to be in the end. I don't like the idea of adding technology to my courses for the sake of adding technology. If it is time saving and beneficial I plan on implementing it as much as possible.