How to properly inform your students to find sources

Understand TLDs

Remember that:

But, at the same time, remember that:

Simply put, a domain’s TLD does not actually mean anything.

The Internet is a big place

The Internet is a big place, it’s a big part of today’s society, and it’s not going anywhere.

By not teaching students (well, anyone really) to properly use it, and instead teaching bullshit, you are actively harming an entire generation of people. You wouldn’t tell your students to only trust books that have black text on a white background, because that’s obviously stupid and wrong. So why are you doing the same thing with the Internet?

Teach students to recognize credible sources and not credible sources

This should be standard curriculum wherever you live, but if it isn’t please work it in. The Internet means that we have more information available to us than ever before. With that information comes the job of distinguishing good and bad sources.

Timecube isn’t a good source (unless you’re writing a paper on Timecube). Yet, it has a lot of the same qualities of a good source. It has lots of writing, and even has infographics, but all the writing is complete bullshit. Most bad sources aren’t as obvious, and you need to be able to tell them apart. Otherwise, you’re another person posting a block of text on their Wall prevents Facebook from harvesting all their data.

Intentionally deceptive fake sources don’t happen that often. They do happen, but they also get sorted out relatively quickly, and aren’t a significant problem. (see also: “the quickest way to get the correct answer on the Internet is to ask the question and give a wrong answer”). Unintentionally deceptive fake sources happen very often. But, most of the time they’re from people who just don’t know what they’re talking about. Recognize bias.

Wikipedia is a great source for information, when used correctly. Sure, the Wikipedia page for Benjamin Franklin might have wrong information. But, you can check the page’s sources for finding information. And, you can take a quick look at the page’s edit history. And many pages on Wikipedia, especially popular or notable ones, are protected.

Hopefully you’ll take this information and help yourself and others to properly find and utilize sources.

Thank you for your time.

© Zach Mertes and Daemon Schmidt 2015. Licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.
(removal of the above notice is illegal, make note above it if you modify this work).