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Finding and using information on the Internet is completely different than searching for a book in the library. A book has the author, publisher's name and a copyright date for when it was written. Books are organized alphabetically and numerically by the Dewey Decimal system and author's last name.

It isn't always clear to us whether a website is fiction or non-fiction, and we can't always trust what we find and read on the Internet. Anyone can be an author and pretend to be an expert on a topic when they are not.

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Use the following 4-step "REAL" process (by Alan November) to help you decide whether a website is useful and trustworthy:


Quality Information Checklist

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READ the URL:
  • Do you recognize the domain name?
  • What is the extension in the domain name?
  • Are you on a personal page? (you may see a % or a ~ in the URL....)

Make judgments based on what the URL tells you



Domains:

Domain:

Reliability:
Example:
Non-Example:
.net
network
Be careful! These can be unreliable.

Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus
The Truth About Belgium
.com
company
Be careful! These can be unreliable.
Animal Fact Guide
Mayan Kids
All About Explorers
Dog Island Free Forever
Dangers of Bread
Left-Handed Whoppers
The Continental Drift Cam
Facts About the Civil War
The Spaghetti Tree
Google Technology
.org
any organization
Be careful! These can be unreliable.
Kidshealth.org
Science News for Kids
Action on Smoking and Health
.mil
military
U.S. Dept. of Defense
Our Military Kids

.ac
academic institution
(outside of US)
Who was Fibonacci?

.edu
education
Most Reliable
Animal Diversity Web

.gov
government
Most Reliable
Kids.gov
PlanetQuest
energy KIDS

country codes and additional domain names to explore
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EXAMINE the Content:
  • Is the information on the site helpful?
  • Does the site have more resources and links? Do the links work?
  • Is the site up to date? Can you tell when it was last updated?
  • Is the information correct?
  • Are the facts different from other sources you are familiar with?

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ASK about the author and publisher:

  • Is the author's name on the site?
  • Is there a contact person or e-mail address?
  • Is their any information about the author?
  • Does the author know the topic well? Is he or she an expert?

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LOOK at the links:
Forward Links:
  • What are the URL's of the forward links?
  • Do the domain names change?
  • Is the information biased?

Back Links:
  • Who is linked to the Web site?
  • Why are they linked?
  • What do other sites say about the information on the site?

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Who created and owns a website? Check the "Who Is" site or the Alexa site.

Search link: url in Google to find back links from any site.

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Other Evaluation Forms:

Finding Good Sites
Rating Websites
Identifying High-Quality Sites
Evaluation Checklist
RWT Evaluation Form

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Get "REAL" website evaluation process from:

November, Alan. Web Literacy for Educators. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2008. Print.

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Otterbein College: Cave Canem-Beware of the Dog
Bogus Websites
Dillon District Two Resources
True or Hoax?
10 Tips for Researching and Filtering Information

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