So much of reliable sources in internet searches is the same as researching in the library. Pick:
- primary sources
- unbiased sources
- sources with the background and training required to understand and present information
Young students have difficulty with these rules. They work hard just to maneuver through a search engine, the links, the search bar and the address bar. They’re thrilled when they get hits, much less trying to distinguish what’s good from bad. How do they know if it’s a ‘primary source’ or not? How can they determine what’s ‘biased’ or not? Or who has enough training to be trusted?Wikipedia is a great example. It’s edited by the People, not PhDs, encyclopedias or primary sources, yet it usually pops up pretty close to the top of a search list and lots of kids think it’s the last word in reliability.
With that in mind, I’ve made the rules simple: Look at the extension. Start with that limitor. Here are the most popular extensions and how I rate them for usefulness:
Published by the government and non-military. As such, it should be unbiased, reliable.
Published by the government and military. Perfect for the topics that fit this category, i.e., wars, economics, etc.
Published by colleges and universities. Historically, focused on research, study, and education
U.S. non-profit organizations and others. They have a bias, but it shouldn’t be motivated by money
These four are the most trustworthy. The next three take subjective interpretation and a cursory investigation into their information:
networks, internet service providers, organizations–traditionally. Pretty much anyone can purchase a .net now
commercial site. Their goal is to sell something to you, so they are unabashedly biased. If you’re careful, you’ll still find good information here
These are foreign sites. Perfect for international and cultural research, but they will retain their nation’s bias and interpretation of events, just as American sites have ours.
Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and author of two technology training books for middle school. She wrote Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s seeking representation for a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office, WordDreams, or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. The sequel to To Hunt a Sub, Twenty-four Days, will be out this summer. Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.