In any collaborative planning with teachers, one of the first points of discussion after deciding upon the inquiry question and how the product and/or process will be evaluated, is that of key resources that will be accessed by students. Not that many years ago, we would have integrated knowledge of specific key print resources to be used, depending upon the topic or assignment.
So, are all students becoming critical consumers of Internet sources? Are we purposefully integrating the teaching of strategies students need to critically evaluate sources of information before they select them off the Internet?
At a school with a 24/7 access to technology, however, it goes without saying that online resources will be accessed, if not exclusively, certainly most often. So, will it be an open Internet search, or will it involve websites pre-selected by the teacher? Younger students are most often steered toward the online databases available to Alberta students through the Alberta Learning website (Online Reference Centre), as well as “kid-friendly” search engines to do Internet searches. These two guidelines usually are all that are required to ensure students are accessing reliable resources.
However, even at the younger grades, evaluative criteria for Internet resources are continually being introduced and required as an integral aspect of online inquiry. As students advance through the grades, so too must their evaluative skills and knowledge. There are many online evaluative tools available, but as our teachers and students become more experienced, I notice that the evaluative criteria are becoming more astute, practical, quick and effective. They are often shared among teachers, and thus students gradually become equipped with an evolving, and deepening toolbox of evaluative strategies necessary for being wise consumers of information sources on the Internet.