Thursday, February 10, 2011

Filtering Information and Fake Websites

Students using the Internet have quite a task ahead of them when they are researching.  When you type a search into Google, how many websites are listed?  Millions and sometimes billions!  If you search the phrase “Google”, you will have 3,480,000,000 websites at your fingertips to give you information, and just in case you were in a rush, it only took .15 seconds to find all of them.  Even if you search something specific, like “how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon”, there are still 1, 380, 000 websites that will let you know an answer that is found at the back of most recipe books.  How do we filter all of this information?  How do we decide what is legitimate or not?  It is no longer okay to say, “I found it on the Internet” (yes, I used to say that).  Even I could post false information on the Internet without realizing it was false.  In fact, after learning how to create websites today in class, perhaps I will try that this weekend!
When we were asked to look at the website for Mankato, I did not immediately realize it was a fake website.  Call me gullible, but if someone beside me hadn’t said, “what a fake website!”, I would have probably been planning my next vacation down to the hidden vacation Mecca of Mankato, Minnesota.  I’m mostly kidding, but I am definitely one of those people that needs to be a bit more cautious about where I find my information and whether it is legitimate or not. 
Over the years as I have done more and more Internet research, I have become more aware of what is authentic information but what still throws me off a bit are people that post false information that they believe to be true.  Not only is the information a bit skewed but also they are standing firmly behind their word. 
I guess this is why we need to be teaching our students to be responsible human beings even beyond using technology.  We need students that are capable to think and make clear decisions when they are faced with millions and billions of options.

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