Watch for Weeds
 
Gardens need constant attention. Internet activities also require your supervision. Weeds can creep up in unexpected places.
 
Watch for weeds by carefully evaluating the sites that students will use. Also, monitor student activities.

Sex is everywhere and roses have thorns. These are the basic truths of Internet and gardening. However, we don't quit because things aren't perfect. We just have to be careful in handling thorny roses. Some great sites link to questionable sites. For example, the Pirates Project was designed by a classroom teacher. Some of her links go to Geocities sites that contain advertising. Before using the activity with students, she always reminds students that they may find inappropriate looking links. These should be ignored in favor of the appropriate activities.
 
Pests are a problem. Some people buy a pest-eating plant. With Internet, you can buy filtering software, stick to "Safety Sites", or simply focus activities to appropriate sites. The choice is up to the teacher. Supervision is essential regardless of the safe-guards used to prevent problems.
 
Weeding is critical. Pull the weeds before they become a problem by teaching students evaluation skills. Go to the Evaluation for some good starting points.
 
Avoid the glitz! Beware of talking trees and other wild options. If a site requires special utilities or plug-ins for Shockwaves, Movies, MIDI files, ask yourself whether the information is work the time needed to download and install the special program. Many times it's faster to just use another source!
 
The key to effective weeding is a good set of evaluation criteria. Both teachers and students need to be critical evaluators of the Internet resources.
 

Use the CyberGuides evaluation form to evaluate a website. Next, evaluate the evaluation form. What other questions do you think are important to ask?
 
Explore some other evaluation guidelines and checklists. Use these to expand the CyberGuides form.

Developed by Annette Lamb, 4/99.