Spot the hoax when evaluating web content

Spot the hoax when evaluating web contentSpotting a hoax websiteSome rights reserved

How can we identify which websites are true or false or hoax or myth? Have a look at this Youtube clip about the North American house hippo.

To what extent do students believe that because something is on the internet it must be true?  

Strategies you might use to discuss this issue include using hoax sites to check students detective skills and providing them with evaluation templates to compare sites on the same topic. For example, a group of Year 9 students at Wortley High School in England was tested with three hoax sites. You can view what happened in this Youtube clip: Secondary ICT - Web literacy.

To help your students to develop their critical thinking skills when surfing the web, consider the following ideas:

Using hoax sites to evaluate content

Providing website evaluation checklists

Verifying information through triangulation

  • Check the material against more than two sources to verify the details and to deepen and widen understanding
  • Try to determine if the content is fact, opinion, or propaganda. See: 21st Century Information Fluency: Accuracy
  • You can also find out the owner of a website at Whois
  • What mix of primary (first-hand) and secondary sources of information are given including links to other sites
  • Go to Google and enter in the search field: link: This will check how many sites and which sites (reputable ones?) link to the one you're on.  

Consider how activities like the above can empower your students to apply their knowledge and skills across the curriculum and when at home.

Further information

Image: The Hoax, by ransomtech on Flickr

By Gail Cochrane

Gail is a Facilitator (National Capability) with Services to Schools based in Hamilton.

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