Saturday, March 1, 2014

WSI: Web Site Investigator
Dennis O'Connor is having students in his online course at the University of Wisconsin-Stout work through the activities in Web Site Investigator. We updated this package recently and it has proven to be an effective way for students to teach themselves effective Web evaluation skills.

It's well-known (from ours and other's research*) that students spend little time evaluating the information they retrieve from the Web.

For this reason, we created a detective game that incorporates information evaluation as the forensics activity. WSI: Web Site Investigator features four Web sites where students look for evidence that the information is credible or suspect:
  • The Air Car (a car that runs on air)
  • New Zealand Golf Cross (a golf game played with an elliptical ball)
  • The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus (an endangered cephalopod found in trees)
  • Sorting Hat Personality Test (an online questionnaire that determines your Hogwarts house)
The WSI package provides a background article on each site and a link to the online site itself. Also included in the package are eight self-paced tutorials on investigative techniques that may be used to determine if the sites are bonafide or bogus:
In addition, there is an Evaluation Wizard for each of the four sites that investigators may use to file a case report to turn in if the package is used as part of a course. Dennis has his students complete and submit a Case Report on one of the sites selected by the student. For the Case Report, each student examines three aspects from the bulleted list above in order to back up a claim that the site is trustworthy or not. The deeper the investigation goes, the more interesting the discoveries--it's actually fun.  The objective is that students understand how investigative techniques may be used and start to question the veracity of EVERYTHING they find online. You can't tell if information can be trusted without investigation.

Try it out for yourself!

* The reader is directed to our new book Teaching Information Fluency for more information on student's lack of evaluation skills.

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