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Information Literacy

Information Literacy

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Author: Kelly Sullivan
Description:

This is a learning activity that helps junior high or high school Science students better understand how to evaluate the information they find online. Specifically, the News Max Media website article claiming that climate change is a hoax and that the U.S. government's own data shows that the Earth's temperature is cooling is used in the activity. Students read the article and view the graphs and then are directed to government websites to compare the data on their own.

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Tutorial

1. Briefly review the following website link: http://www.newsmax.com/MKTNews/global-warming-hoax...In particular, pay attention to the graph that is presented.

2. What are some of the issues with this website? (Note that you may need to explore other online website to answer these questions. You may use wikipedia as a resource to direct you to other online resources, but do not rely solely on wikipedia for your research.)

a. Does it have a political bent to the right (conservative) or the left (progressive/liberal)? Yes____ No _____

b. Is it a .com website? Yes____ No _____

c. Is there an author(s) listed for the article? Yes____ No_____

d. Is the author competent in the area being discussed? Yes ____ No ____

N/A _____

3. Paying particular attention to the graph they present claiming there is global cooling instead of warming, do you notice any problems with the graph? See the following questions.

Newsmax media graph:

a. Does the graph lack specificity? (In other words, the graph may show temperatures rising or falling, but is this air temperature, water temperature, air station temperature, or a combination of some or all? Are these temperatures supposedly global or only for one hemisphere, one continent, one country, etc.?) Yes ____ No ___

b. Does the graph cover enough years to properly evaluate the issue? Yes____ No ____

c. Does the graph cover a strange time interval? To better explain this question, since the graph ends at the year 2015, why does it begin at 1998 instead of 1995 which would be a full 20 year period?

d. Why do you think Newsmax chose 1998 as their starting year for their data (hint: Research El Niño 1998)? Was 1998 an unusually warm year? Yes___ No ____

3. Visit this government website and view the graph on the right: http://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/global-tempera...

Does this graph from the government website confirm what the Newsmax Media site graph shows? Yes____ No ____

4. On the Newsmax site, look at the photo showing the polar ice changes in the Arctic. Now compare the photos to the interactive photo shown on the government website at http://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/arctic-sea-ice....

Newsmax photos:


Nasa.gov interactive time series photo:


a. Do you think the Newsmax photos have been used to create a false belief that the polar ice caps are not melting? Yes____ No _____

5. Just because a website claims that its data comes from the government, does this mean you can trust the website (in this case, can you trust Newsmax?) Yes____ No ____

6. Would it be better to obtain your data about climate change from a .gov website or a .com website? .gov____ .com_____

7. Should you always be skeptical of partisan websites (like newsmax.com or the HuffingtonPost.com) even if a trusted loved one emailed you or texted you the link?

Yes____ No____

8. Briefly review all your answers above and decide whether you would trust Newsmax media. Yes___ No____

Source: Newsmax.com; nasa.gov

Website Evaluation Form

This is a form you can use to help you determine if the website you are using is legitimate or not. Feel free to use this in the future to help you learn which sites you can trust.

Webpage Evaluation

Topic of paper:

Name of website:

URL:

Who wrote this? (Authorship)

Who wrote the page, and can you contact that person?

Is this person qualified to write this document?

Is there an institution or organization responsible for the content?

Why? (Purpose)

What is the purpose of the document?

Does anybody care? (Readership/Currency)

When was the page produced/last updated?

Who is reading this page? Who is the intended audience?

Remember…Always be skeptical!

Was this page originally intended for publication on the web or somewhere else? If somewhere else, where?

Who wrote this? (Authorship)

Who wrote the page, and can you contact that person?

Email address – What comes after the @ sign?

Physical address – Real or PO Box?

Phone number – Landline or cell phone?

Is this person qualified to write this document?

What credentials are listed for the author(s) and the credentials be verified?

Is there a reference list? Is the reference list cited correctly?

Is the information clearly presented in a professional-looking way?

Are there mistakes in spelling or word usage?

Is there an institution or organization responsible for the content?

  • Where is the document hosted? (Check URL)
  • Have you heard of this entity before?
  • Does it correspond to the name of the site?
  • Does the institution have credentials separate from the author?
  • Is the author separate from the webmaster?

Why? (Purpose)

What is the purpose of the document?

  • Who is paying for the website? (whois.net)
  • Who is making money off of this document? How?
  • Is the content biased?
  • Is there advertising on the pages or links to merchant sites?
  • How detailed is the information?
  • What opinions are expressed by the author?
  • Is this site a hoax, satire, or on a mission against something?

Does anybody care? (Readership/Currency)

When was the page produced/last updated?

Check for dead/irrelevant links.

Check for a “last updated” stamp. [CAUTION: Undated statistical information is no better than anonymous information. Don’t use it without confirmation from a recognized reputable source.]

Ask – is the information on this page outdated in any way?

Evaluate the links – do they complement the document’s theme?

Is the content appropriate to your assignment?

Look for copyright information and permissions to reproduce.

How long has this page been online? How has it changed? (www.archive.org)

Who is reading this page? Who is the intended audience?

What kind of traffic does the page have? (alexa.com)

How many external pages are linking to this one?

Is this page being tagged?

Google the author’s name and/or the name of the site.

Remember…Always be skeptical!

The Internet is the ultimate vehicle of free speech. If something about the page doesn’t “feel” right, go find a more reliable source.

  • Know the difference between a “web page” and a page found on the web. (Google “flirting” then Google Scholar “flirting”. See the difference?)
  • Was this page originally intended for publication on the web or somewhere else? If somewhere else, where?
  • Subject all information found on the internet to the same critical standards you would any other source—external verification.

Source: Source: Southern Adventist University, McKee Library