Part 1: MeL Database Compare/Contrast
||InfoTrac Junior Edition
|| InfoTrac Student Edition
| I did a simple search for frogs in both databases. Then I did a search on texting. Below I will examine the appropriateness, useablity, content, and credibility for each database’s articles.
||Frogs: Age appropriate magazine articles from magazines like Highlights for Children and Scholastic News. I still had to sift through the articles, though, as some were stories and editor’s notes and not actual information about frogs.Texting: Lots and lots of information and relevant articles from sources that are geared for younger students.
||Frogs: This search led to a mix of children’s book reviews along with articles about frogs. This might be off putting to some high school students as they would have to do a bit more sifting. This just might not be the right database tool for the job, but I’m certain there are others that would work and be much better than searching Google.Texting: Just like the Junior Edition, this edition had tons of information that was directed at a slightly older audience.
||For both searches, this was pretty user friendly, but I noticed that some of the images were omitted, which might deter some students. The articles were a good length for elementary students, though.
||The articles, especially for texting, were very user-friendly and easy to use for a research project.
||I love that there are magazine articles, news article, audio and video clips, and books and images. Students would have to sift through some of the information to make sure they were getting facts if they were doing a research report, but they would have to do this on Google too. There seems to be more content on texting than there is on frogs…probably because this database is geared toward current event and pop culture information.
|| Same as the Junior Edition…
||Every resource has a citation! And because these are databases, students and teachers can feel comfortable knowing that the information they find is reliable and has been published elsewhere before being housed in the database. If there were factual errors, they would be discovered and edited immediately. There is no chance of a hoax article here.
|| Same as Junior Edition…
|In conclusion, I think these databases are great for pop culture and current events type research. If students are looking for topics that are more general science topics or social studies topics, they would probably want to use a different database. But overall, these were much better resources to use than a Google search, as all the information is reliable and accurate (and the citations are provided too!).
Part 2: Advanced Student MeL Database
I did a search for greenhouse gasses and global warming on Academic OneFile.
Appropriateness: All of the articles are actually about greenhouse gas emissions…if I had done a Google search, I would have gotten some articles and websites about greenhouse gas emissions, and a whole lot of biased information or commercial advertising for products having to do with greenhouse gas emissions. Some of these resources in the database may be a bit advanced for struggling readers, but I could find another database for those students or I could pair them with a more advanced student.
Usability: Again, all the information is about greenhouse gas emissions. Depending on what type of information students need, there are news articles, videos, magazine articles, and academic journals about the topic. They could use the journals for background information and the news articles to examine what is happening around the world in relation to their search. The news articles seem much more helpful to me than a Google search would be; the academic journals may be a bit much for high school students, but I think some of the other resources, like the videos, would be very helpful.
Content: The content has been researched and proven reliable. It is professionally written and its purpose is to educate the readers/viewers of it. Compared to a Google search, this material is much more meaty and the search has more relevant results.
Credibility: Every resource is from a reliable news organization, magazine, academic journal, etc. Students and teachers can rest assured that the information they find is accurate; when compared to a Google search, every article (even if not exactly pertinent to what students are looking for) can be vetted, whereas a Google search may yield some questionable results.
Part 3: Bogus/Hoax Websites and CARRDSS
Dog Island: This site seems like it could be real since it gives statistics, and if you don’t look carefully, you might be taken by it. But, when you look closely at it, you can tell it’s not real. To begin, the Credibility is questionable. There are adds all over and if you scroll to the bottom of the page, there is a disclaimer next to the copyright. When you click on the disclaimer, it tells you up front that the site is created in jest and is not real.
As for Accuracy, well, the disclaimer tells you the site isn’t real, so the information is clearly not accurate. But if you miss the disclaimer and peruse the site, you’ll see that there really isn’t any information. It talks about legislation but gives no details. It tells about the number of large, medium, and small dogs, but gives no details as to what defines each category. There are just too many missing details for the information to be accurate and Reliable. Also, if you click on the links for the Press information about Dog Island, none of the links go to articles about Dog Island. And this link goes to a site that is in Japanese, but is supposedly a link to a radio station in Escanaba, Michigan. Clearly not a reliable Source Behind the Text that supports the page. In fact, none of the links that navigate outside the page are useful sources of information for Dog Island or for dogs in general.
This would definitely not be a Relevant site if I was doing a search for dogs; maybe if I was searching for dog friendly vacation places, but even then, I would quickly find upon reading that humans are not allowed on Dog Island, which would put up red flags in my mind about the site being real. It also uses the word, “Dogologists,” which is not a real word. A quick Google search will bring up sites that are for dog training businesses, as well as the Urban Dictionary’s definition of the word. Definitely not reliable or relevant.
The Date on the site is today’s date and the copyright date is 2013, so that would not be an easy indicator that the information is real…you definitely have to read the information to figure that out. Finally, there seems to be no Purpose to the site (unless you read the disclaimer, which states the site is to make people happy) and there is no real Scope. The information is not very detailed, the links lack any information to support the site, and if you try to get more information there really isn’t any to be found.
The Republic of Molossia: Being a social studies teacher, I know Molossia is not a real country. And to verify, I would use a site like the CIA World Factbook to verify. But students might not want to go this far…
To start with Credibility, the URL is not even an official sounding country URL. It is a .org and ends with /countryeng.html. From that alone, I would question whether or not the site was credible. (http://www.molossia.org/countryeng.html) Additionally, the “Ministry of Propaganda” is the one who created the site. When you click on the link for it, it is a mailto: link that opens up your email to compose a message. Plus, the word propaganda should be a big red flag since the purpose of propaganda is to get people to believe in a cause or in something that may or may not be real.
The site claims the country is “still at war” with “East Germany.” East Germany no longer exists, thereby calling the Accuracy and Reliability of information into question.
If you click on the links on the menu to find information out about the country, they provide information, but it’s clearly very silly. For example, the page about the Molossian Navy says,
We tried having an Army, but the US Olympic Committee used it against us. We tried having an Air Force, but the plane never flew, and anyway it was too small to fit anyone inside. So, here in the depths of the desert, we have created the Molossian Navy. Yes, the Navy. And we even have three boats.
Our goal with the Molossian Navy is to explore those watery places that dot the western landscape like gems in the sand. There are actually quite a few lakes and reservoirs through the western desert, and we have set our sights to explore as many as possible. In addition, our Navy stands ready to defend Molossia whenever necessary, through the means of our valiant Naval Infantry.
Clearly this information doesn’t make any sense and is made up for fun; it is definitely not reliable or accurate.
As for Relevance, if you were searching for information about a made up country, then this would be perfect! But if you happened to mistype the name of a country like Malaysia or Mongolia, you might stumble across this site. Or if students are non-native speakers or have difficulty with reading and/or spelling, they may run across this site and they would have to use the other elements of the CARRDSS systems to verify that this site is what they want. Additionally, if you were searching for the ancient Greek state of Molossia, then this site would not be relevant to what you needed, and it even makes a disclaimer at the bottom of the homepage stating such.
The Date on the site seems to be current, so this would not be an immediate red flag about the content of the site, but the Sources that the site links to that are supposed to provide media information about the country don’t link to actual pages. And there don’t seem to be any links that provide information about who made the content other than the one for the Ministry of Propaganda that I mentioned above.
Finally, the Scope and Purpose of the site seem to be to provide made up information and stories about a made up country. Reading some of the links on the homepage, as well as information on the homepage itself seem to suggest that someone just made everything up since all the information is a bit preposterous.
Overall, I think the CARRDSS system is a great way to review a website and it’s also pretty quick. I will definitely plan on using this system with my students in the future and will probably create a page on my class website about how to quickly evaluate web information.
Part 4: Citation Tools
Katz, Lawrence F., and Kevin M. Murphy. “Changes in relative wages, 1963–1987: supply and demand factors.” The quarterly journal of economics 107.1 (1992): 35-78.