Website evaluation is now part of the TL skill set; described by James Herring as a key activity or one of the core competencies for a TL - and that it is increasingly important that teachers and TLs become EXPERTS IN WEBSITE EVALUATION.
And as collaboration is such a fundamental part of the TL role this is an area in which sharing and working with colleagues is going to become more and more vital in order to positively influence the teaching and learning that occurs within the school setting.
Some things need to be kept in mind:
- what are the learning needs of the students and what are the desired learning outcomes?
- SPECIFICITY is key when it comes to the task of website evaluation
- Website evaluation is highly dependent upon the given CONTEXT
- TL need to focus on matching the learning needs of the students to what the websites can offer
- REMEMBER TO BE STUDENT FOCUSED
James Herring in his books Improving Students' Web Use and Information Literacy - A guide for teachers and teacher librarians (2011) Facet Publishing : London. outlines THREE important areas for website criteria and it is important to remember that when looking at websites you need to look at ALL THREE AREAS - that a judgement needs to be base don the BALANCE of criteria in relation to a particular website.
- educational criteria - this is really the MOST IMPORTANT of all the criteria for the TL. Think about what is the purpose of the website? Is it for a student or a teacher resource? Within the class what is the range of reading levels? and comprehension levels? Does the site allow activities for student engagement and allow for differentiation? Can this site challenge students to extend themselves?
- reliability criteria - this is quite complex but is asking Is this site reliable? Do I trust this site? The needs of the students and teachers need to be kept in mind and what the key question is based on bias? Who is the author? Do I trust the author(s)? Is the content opinion based?
- technical criteria - this deals with how well designed the sites are? Many evaluation criteria stress the importance of technical aspects but it needs to be balanced in terms of the educational needs of the students - Are my students going to get lost in this site? Does the technical aspects of the site meet the education needs of some or all of the students?