Sep 17 2010

"Exposing What is True"

The second chapter of Warlick's Redefining Literacy 2.0 is entitled, “Exposing What is True.” In it, he discusses several tools and techniques that people use to identify the validity of resources found on the internet, as well as how to find the resources in the first place. Students, he says, used to be solely at the mercy of schools and libraries for all information pertaining to whatever topic they were studying. Since the schools and libraries purchased all the books and reference materials, they obviously would only choose materials that were reliable and high quality. When students used these materials, neither they nor their teachers were concerned in the least about the truthfulness of the sources.

In today’s modern age, however, when a large portion (if not large majority) of research is completed on the Internet, the validity of all sources is at question. Most sites have precautions set in place to prevent cyber-hackers from gaining control of their content, but even some of the most secure sites can be hacked, meaning that everything one reads online must be scrutinized and cross-referenced. While the Internet does a fairly decent job at self-policing and self-filtering (and companies like Google are making it increasingly so through their crowd-sourced ranking system), there are simply too many places people can go and get inundated with misinformation.

Warlick proposes a helpful acronym, S.E.A.R.C.H., that outlines the various steps one needs to complete in order to successfully find valuable resources on the web. Standing for Start, Edit, Advance, Refine, Cycle, and Harvest, this process is a good way to begin filtering out all of the plethora of information and finding sources that will help you in your research.

After finding several resources that may be of help, Warlick suggests six questions that one should ask when evaluating a source’s value, including “Does this make sense?” While his questions seem rather obvious to those who have been using and filtering data on the web for many years, it is easy to take these questions for granted, assuming that everyone not only knows how to ask them, but does so on a routine basis. This is a very large—and erroneous—assumption, especially to apply to a classroom setting. Just like students would not naturally know how to ride a bike without first being taught, they likewise will not naturally know how to evaluate the validity of an Internet source without first being taught.

One question that Warlick does not ask or answer, probably because it seems so obvious to him, is why we should even bother with “exposing what is true.” The massive juggernaut that is the Internet is—whether we like it or not—replacing the library’s place as the world’s hub of information.  If we do not keep each other accountable in using information responsibly, we are replacing the immutable pillars of academia that is the peer-reviewed library with a sand castle that can not withstand the smallest of turbulent waves.

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    • Jada Reed on September 18, 2010 at 1:14 pm
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    Ryan good job on your links! I have to say when I read the assignment I was really nervous to how I was going to figure out how to do it, but then when reading the chapter and it mentioned how to do it I was very relieved! I enjoyed your last paragraph, it really seems to say it all when it comes to exposing the truth.

    • pallender on September 20, 2010 at 6:25 pm
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    Ryan I agree with you on what you are saying about exposing the truth and check the validity of websites. Too many times in todays society, students want to believe everything they see or read on the internet. Every year I go through a lesson on internet truths and myths with my students. It is a surprise to some of the students when a site that they tell me is valid is proven invalid by looking back into the site and the authors.
    My only concern for the future is what happens if everyone believes all they read and see on the internet? Are we going to be a world where the library will become extinct? I hope not, as librarians do monitor what they have in the library.

    • amycooper on September 23, 2010 at 9:13 am
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    I agree Pam with what you said, “Are we going to be a world where the library will become extinct?”. I hope not considering I’m in this program because of my love of the library. I’m somewhat a traditionalist and so what I love about the library is the traditional stacks of books. I can’t imagine a world without books. I have no interest in a “kindle” or a “nook”, etc. I love to hold a book in my hand and look at the cover and turn the pages. Hopefully there are enough traditionalists out there to help balance all this out.

    Ryan, thanks for the link on evaluating a source!

  1. I know what you mean about the library going extinct, but frankly, I can’t even remember the last time I stepped into a library to actually *look at books*. It was either for a group meeting (a social activity), a faculty meeting, or to get on the Internet to do research there. I realize that I am 100% a child of the next generation, but that’s who we’re teaching here, folks.

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