3 Crucial Principles for Student Online Research

1.  All students and parents should have a content filter/accountability system. 

Our family’s favorite is Covenant Eyes which allows for age-appropriate content filtering. The program also saves a searchable record of all internet activity. We all get pulled astray. It’s a fact of nature, and accountability is a strong method to counter our nature.  Covenant Eyes will not allow the internet to open without logging in, and after it logs in it records all sites and pictures viewed. Each child can have their unique login information and filtering options.

(I’m so confident about Covenant Eyes, I’ve asked to sponsor them on my website. So, although I may get a kickback if you join through these links, I only tell you about it because I believe it is essential for every family to use).


 

2. All students should be taught about online predators and dangers.

My children were required to become “certified to use the internet” by going through NetSmartKids web materials, which have materials for younger as well as older children.

Alternately Carnegie Cyber Academy can be helpful.

DVD options  The Safe Side: Internet Safety


 

3. All students should know how to recognize credibility of a website.

History research requires credible sources, so fan-sites and armchair historian sites are not as valuable and most often have no unique primary sources for you. When you do a Search online,

“Look Before You Click”:

*Site address reflects academic credibility

It should have a short web address. It should probably end with .org instead of .com, though that is not always an indicator. Free sites are always suspect.

*Site name often reflects academic credibility

*It should have a site name that is specific to history. Museum sites. Academic sites.  Reading the blurb that shows up on the search page can show you the type of site you will be visiting.

* Lots of random ads undermines academic credibility

If you see a site with a lot of ads for random products, not related to history, you should suspect the site, and move on to another site. Website owners whose main purpose is revenue will sell space on their page that filters information according to YOUR previous search history, showing your personalized ads. This reveals that the purpose of the website is to sell, not to inform, thereby undermining academic credibility.

BUT If the ads are directly related to the material presented–specifically recommended books on the topic, articles to download, materials that will help you–you may consider purchasing them and supporting the site’s owner whose primary purpose is to inform.

*Avoiding blogs and forums enables the finding of credible sources

Not very many people make it their intention to connect students to primary source information on history.  Because of this, blogs should be avoided.  Forums are opinion-driven sites, and very rarely will you be using your time wisely when you spend time skimming forums.