Astronomers use tools like satellites and telescopes to search the night sky for comets, black holes, and even extraterrestrial life. But, they must analyze the information they find before they can present it to the world. They must be sure it’s accurate and credible.
The same is true when it comes to navigating YOUR digital world. Your personal and professional success depends on your ability to evaluate the information around you and share it with the world in a responsible way.
In an earlier lesson, you learned about making sure any online sources you review or use are reliable. You don’t want to count on information that is false or out of date. This is true whether it is a personal matter, a project at work or an assignment in school. Taking the time to evaluate online information is critical before you depend on it for anything.
The example above, while not related to an online search, illustrates the importance of having current information. While Travis had the right address, he was using a digital tool that was not up-to-date. When searching online, there are several other factors you need to consider as well. You also need to think about the purpose of your search to determine if a result is meaningful to you or not.
Technology: Skill Reflect
Fortunately there is a tool that can help you evaluate online search results. The CRAAP test is a five step process that helps you remember what you need to look for when determining if something is reliable or not. It can also help you weed out results that have no relevance given the purpose of your search.
You will find that the answers to these questions will make it clear which search results are worth saving and which ones should not be used. Consider the following:
You are writing a paper on the growth of online education. Review the table below.Which resources would you rely on? Which ones would you not use?
|Currency||A website about the history of online education dated 2018||A website about the history of online education dated 2002|
|Relevance||A website with a list of where you can earn an online AA degree||A website with a timeline showing the number of online universities each decade|
|Authority||An article written by a mom who decided to enroll her child in an online high school after seeing all the choices she had||An article written by the CEO of the largest online tutoring company in the USA.|
|Accuracy||A site sharing some data about online student enrollment numbers. The data comes from a study done by Yale.||A site sharing a lot of data about online student enrollment numbers but no indication where the numbers came from.|
|Purpose||An article with a chart that shares positives and negatives of the increase in online education||An opinion piece about online education written by a professor at Harvard.|
So what do you do if a search result does not pass the CRAAP test? What if it looks really good, supports your point and you really want to use it? You need to do more research. It could be you can still use that information, but you need to verify it by finding evidence for that same information somewhere else. If you can find that same information from a more reliable source….you are good to go. If you are not able to do that, you should not use that source.
Initiative: Skill Tip
Take a look at this short video to better understand the importance of using credible resources.
Add video: Strayer Week 5 Video #2