|Beacon Learning Center Tutorial |
Principles of Website Evaluation
The explosion of the World Wide Web presents learners with an unprecedented source of learning. The subsequent emergence of educational Websites—designed specifically to train learners in a specific topic or skill—similarly offers instructors a wealth of materials to enhance and extend their instruction. But not every educational Website is of the highest quality. Many offer out-of-date information. Some show a clear bias that calls into question the accuracy of their content.
For educational Websites to be effectively integrated into classrooms, educators need to develop specific criteria for assessing the quality of Website content and presentation. This tutorial proposes structured guidelines for evaluating educational Websites.
Educational Websites must present high quality information that is both current and accurate. These sites must be targeted toward specific age groups. Their language and complexity must be age-appropriate for the targeted learners. Site materials must be organized in small, logical modules for easy comprehension and long-term retention. This is especially true for sites containing large quantities of information. Perhaps most important of all, quality educational Websites must offer links to other equally valuable Web resources, thus beginning the navigation process which will grow into a "web" of resources for learners.
Consider the following questions when evaluating the content of educational Websites:
Educational Websites must present their materials in well-organized, attractive formats. Overly busy Web design distracts from learning, leaving the learner with cognitive overload. Navigation controls must be clearly labeled to guarantee ease of use. Colors and fonts must be chosen for maximum "readability." Graphics and multimedia files must enhance the site's message rather than simply adding "dazzle" to an otherwise dull Website.
Consider the following questions when evaluating the presentation format of educational Websites:
The missing ingredient in most educational Websites is interaction. Static Web pages of text and graphics can never fully engage the learner in active learning. Online quizzes and games can breathe life into a "dead" Website and reinforce learning. Online journals and student portfolios move an educational Website toward performance-based and authentic assessment. Threaded discussions and chat rooms introduce the kinds of discourse necessary for higher-level learning.
Consider the following questions when evaluating the interaction of educational Websites:
Practice Website evaluation with this easy-to-use Web form.