Friday, December 12, 2014

Looking for the 'suss'

Images above: A castle on a stack? The power to manipulate images.

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Geogaction Spatialworlds website GeogSpace
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
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Critical Internet Literacy

The recent Flat Earth Society posting alluded to the issue of Critical Internet Literacy.  This posting provides some information on assessing the validity of online resources and a range of bogus sites that have been created to peddle nonsense or falsity on purpose. As students are using Internet sources more and more, it is imperative that they develop critical literacy to determine the veracity of any site, regardless of its professional appearance. In fact, the technological and economic ease anyone can now develop a really professional and seemingly official site makes Critical Internet Literacy more important than ever.

Evaluating a site for veracity
A recent Washington Post article suggested the following tips to avoid being ‘conned’ by ‘suss’ internet sites:
  •  Check for additional sources before you share anything
  •  Learn which websites not to trust
  •  Unfollow any websites that lies to you
  •  Use common sense.

A more detailed listing involves examining the site for:

1. Accuracy (Is the information reliable? Are the links accurate? Sources cited? Information believable?)
2. Authority (Who is the author of the site? What are his/her qualifications? Is the site sponsored by an organization? Is the organization reputable or legitimate?)
3. Objectivity (Does the information reveal a bias? What is the point of view of the author? Is the information trying to sway you? Do the links also reflect a bias?)
4. Currency (When was the site last updated? Is the information kept up to date? Is the publication date indicated? Are the links up to date?)
5. Coverage (How is the information presented? Heavy use of graphics, text, statistics? Topic coverage cursory or in-depth?) 

Here are some even more detailed questions to ask when checking out a site.

1. The source of the page
*Who wrote the page?
*Can you contact him or her?
*Does he/she list his/her qualifications?
* Is this person qualified to write this document?
*What type of organization provides the page? Is it:
  • Government .gov
  • Education .edu
  • Business .com
  • Organisation .org
*What country is the page from?

2. Purpose  
What is the purpose of the document? 
* Inform
* Entertain
* Share information
*Advertise or sell a product or service (business/marketing)
* Influence views, beliefs 
* Personal enjoyment
3. Structural features
Identify some of the structural features of the web page eg
  • use of colour
  • font size and style
  • graphics
  • video or animation
  • tabs 
  • links

  4. Audience
  * Who is the audience?
  * What features have been included to appeal to this audience
  • Structural features
  • Language features
5. Objectivity of web documents
* How detailed is the information?
* What opinions (if any) are expressed by the author?
* Can the information be checked from other sources?

6. Currency of web documents
* When was it produced?
* When was it updated?
* How many dead links are there?
* Is the information up to date?
* How much advertising is there?

Check these sites out for veracity

Checking out the following sites are a useful (and fun) way for students to use the questions above to check out the veracity, reliability, usefulness and bias of a site. (scroll down)

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