Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Must.Write.My.Assignment.

My ETL501 Assignment is due on Monday 7th September. Less than two weeks away. I must
  1. Critically evaluate 2 sets of website evaluation criteria.
  2. Critically evaluate 4 websites in relation to a specified topic.

Topic 4 (of ETL501) is titled Critical Evaluation of Print and Electronic Resources, and it's where most of the information needed for the assignment is.

Herring (my lecturer, and author of our text the internet and information skills: a guide for teachers and school librarians) suggests that when evaluating websites, we need to consider

  • technical criteria (does it work?)
  • reliability criteria (can we trust it?)
  • educational criteria (is it suitable for our purpose and audience?)

In The ABC's of Website Evaluation, Kathy Schrock (guru of website evaluation) discusses many aspects of the website that should be assessed, including:

authority, bias, citations, dates, efficiency, fallacy, graphics, information availability, links, navigability, ...

The difficulty is that both these authoritative sources of information about website evaluation are written in prose form, albeit with dot points included. When comparing other sets of website evaluation criteria with these sources, we must read and consider carefully, as there is no quick checklist to consult.

In fact, the whole first part of the assignment can become a bit of a circular argument: we have a set of criteria for website evaluation that we are evaluating, and what criteria are we using for our evaluation, and have we evaluated the criteria that we are using to evaluate the criteria...

There are lots and lots of sets of website evaluation criteria out there. Finding a couple of sets to evaluate is not a problem. Making sure that my evaluation is clear and concise is the issue.

For the second part of the assignment, I am going to consider a topic from the Stage 5 (Years 9 and 10) Mathematics syllabus (NSW). Mathematics!!! (I hear you gasp!) Yes, folks, maths. I am a maths teacher, and the section of the course that I'm thinking about is PAS5.3.4 'Draws and interprets a variety of graphs including parabolas, cubics, exponentials and circles and applies coordinate geometry techniques to solve problems.'

This topic can be time-consuming and difficult to teach. It involves a lot of graphs, which, if hand drawn, take a long time and are prone to errors. The syllabus itself advises 'Graphics calculators and various computer programs facilitate the investigation of the shapes of curves and the effect on the equation of multiplying by, or adding, a constant.' That is mathematics speak for "A good website/computer application can make graphing quick and easy. The results are right before your eyes! A lot of different equations can be graphed in a short amount of time, and their similarities, differences and any patterns can be investigated. The effect on the graph of changing certain parts of the equation can be seen quickly."

So what I am looking for is some websites that provide opportunities for students to graph equations. But more than that, I'm looking for websites that provide some sort of structured investigation, have an interactive component, and a certain level of animation! But what I have to remember is that the point of the assignment is NOT to find 4 wonderful websites that meet my needs. The point of the assignment is to use website evaluation criteria to evaluate 4 websites that I do find.

Wish me luck, and any suggestions for websites can be left in the comments and will be very much appreciated!

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