An Internet based lesson

A lesson built around a single Internet Site

Subject: Separating Fact from Fiction on the WWW                                           
Grade level(s): Upper Elementary or Middle School Computer and Research Skills
Lesson Title: Evaluating Web Sites
Internet Site Title:  Save the Mountain Walrus
Internet Sites URL: http://www.end.com/~jynx/walrus/
Author: Lorrie Jackson

Site Description: This site focuses on an animal that the webmaster believes is in danger of extinction and therefore needs our support. It provides pictures, descriptions, and reasons why we should support their efforts to protect this creature.

Site Purpose: We’ve looked at sites on the WWW and have decided whether or not those sites were valid or not based on the COCOA P steps, extensions, and common sense. Even if you’re never heard of these steps, you can follow the steps under Lesson Description below to learn how we evaluate a web site!

Lesson Introduction: You will be working independently on this project. You may ask a classmate for help in reviewing any of the steps we’ve discussed or in following the task below, but you need to form you own opinion as to the validity of the site. 

 Lesson Description: Please follow these steps in order:

1.            Go to http://www.end.com/~jynx/walrus/ .

2.            Skim through the entire site and jot down any notes you have on a Word document (these will help you form an opinion to use in
step 3. Your title for that document should be: Mountain Walrus Web Eval and your name, class name, and date should be in the right margin in a header.

3.      As you begin reading about the mountain walrus, be thinking about the following ways we can evaluate a web site. In your Word document, write down the words coverage, origin, currency, objectivity, accuracy, purpose, extensions, and common sense on separate lines of your document. Then, after each of these words or phrases, write your responses to the questions below (complete sentences please):

A.     Coverage: Does the web site give you too little or too much information on your topic for you to get a good idea about the mountain walrus? Or is it just right?

B.     Origin: Who created this web site? Is he or she an expert in this field? What credentials (college degrees, research, published articles, career accomplishments) does he or she provide? If no reason to believe the webmaster is an expert is given, be sure to write that down!

C.     Currency: When was this site last updated (look at the bottom of the page)? If it does not give a last updated date, please note that? Also, check out any links? Are they expired or do they still work? Do you feel this is a current or out-of-date site and why?

D.     Objectivity: What does objectivity mean? Does this site read like an encyclopedia or do you feel a bias (a strong opinion for or against) towards the subject? Do you feel this site is objective or opinionated and why?

E.      Accuracy: Name any factual or grammatical errors you find? Why do errors on a web site make us doubt the validity of a site? If there are no errors that you can find, note that too!

F.      Purpose: What do you think is the webmaster’s purpose in creating this site: informing, entertaining, or persuading? If persuading, what does the webmaster want us to do or think? Does the purpose make the site less reliable as a good source for information on this topic?

G.     Extensions: What is the two to three letter extension for this site (the most common extensions are: org, com, mil, edu, net, and gov)? Is there a tilde (~) in the Uniform Resource Locator (URL or address)? A tilde tell us it’s a personal and not a company, university, or museum site.  If it does have a tilde, what does that tilde mean to us as informed consumers of the WWW?

H.     Common sense: What does your gut tell you about this site? Is it a valid site for information or not and why?

Final Product or Task: Review your answers for Step 3 above after you typed them into complete sentences on your Word document. Now, write a 2-3 sentence summary of what you learned from this assignment and what you feel the purpose of the assignment was. Lastly, tell me if you believe the mountain walrus needs to be saved. Print your Word document out (after saving it to My Documents as YourName Walrus Web Eval) and turn it in to me.

Conclusion: All web sites aren’t perfect! We need to know how to decide what’s valid and what’s not. If you have extra time, or want extra credit, follow the steps above but go to http://zapatopi.net/treeoctopus.html instead. Create a new Word document with the title: Tree Octopus Web Eval and be sure to put your name, class name, and date on the right margin in a header. Turn the completed document in for credit!

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