Evaluating Online Curriculum Resources
- Thursday, November 01, 2001
Often, the Information Superhighway seems more like an Information Traffic Jam. There is so much information out there much of it junk that it is sometimes difficult to locate what you really want. Once you do find what appears to be a good resource, how do you evaluate it? How can you be sure the information is accurate? How do you know if an online course, a curriculum guide, or an activity will work with your child?
The Internet is a little like a huge library except that many of the books and materials have no editor. Anyone can post almost anything on the Internet. Furthermore, there is no equivalent of a librarys card catalog. Even the best and most comprehensive search engines only search a small fraction of the material that is actually available on the Internet, and, of course, new materials are posted every day. Therefore, once you have located a potential educational resource, it is extremely important to be able to adequately evaluate both the accuracy and the usefulness of any online materials, before using them with your children.
It is essential for any home-schooling family to analyze Internet curriculum materials in two ways. First, any potential online curriculum resource should be evaluated to ascertain that it is both reputable and accurate. You probably have noticed that Web site addresses often end in .com, .edu, .gov, or .org. This signifies what type of Web site it is.
.com Web sites are sponsored by commercial enterprises. Often the materials available on the Web sites are very good; however, you need to keep clearly in mind that the purpose of the site is to promote or sell a product.
.edu Web sites are sponsored by educational institutions, public and private, pre-K through college. These sites usually provide accurate information, but you need to remember that all educational institutions have their own unique individual philosophies, which are reflected in the materials they provide. You will need to weigh whether or not the philosophies represented match your own, or at least are not in clear opposition to your own beliefs.
.gov Web sites are sponsored by the U. S. government. These sites provide official government information and tax-supported resources, ranging from the Library of Congress to the Smithsonian, from NASA to IRS forms.
.org Web sites are sponsored by organizations of many types. If the organization is a reputable one, usually information on the Web site is checked for reasonable accuracy. However, because organizations of all types have a distinct purpose and mission, you can expect the materials presented on an organizations Web site to directly reflect that purpose, and probably that bias.
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