The Importance of Quality in Online Media Sources

With the growing use of online media in the classroom, it is very important to look at just what students are accessing in order to complete assignments. We have come a long way from using book sources exclusively, and it seems as though most of our sources for papers are now peer-reviewed journals or online sites. While the amount of information available at our fingertips has grown, it has also become less credible due to the overflow of sites without credibility. Many sites are simply biased opinions without any information to back up the claims they are making. Due to this influx of information to sift through to find credible sources, students may find themselves using sources that do not actually have any quality to them. Examining information quality is important so we know the information we have is actual evidence rather than a biased opinion. When we use information that is biased, we lose much of the credibility of our sources. If the sources we use are not credible, it can be considered just as bad or worse than not having any sources at all. A lack of credible sources is detrimental to a student since it discredits their work. It also shows a lack of research or understanding of research on their part if they did not take the time to make sure sources are of good quality. That being said, it is important to know how to find sources that are credible for research purposes. Finding “legitimate” information on the internet is somewhat tricky depending on the sources you use. One of the best ways to assess the legitimacy of a source is to check the references provided by the source. If no references are listed, the site is probably not legitimate (or the creator is lazy and does not care about legitimacy to viewers). If the information is presented in a professional manner with many cited sources, then it is probably legitimate. Students should be made aware of the credibility of search engines and sites before they attempt to search for anything online. Some search engines post their results based on sponsorship (Google often puts sites that pay them at the top of the list), regardless of legitimacy. It is important to make sure you are using a reliable engine such as a scholar format rather than simply searching through random websites online. It is also better to make sure things are peer-reviewed before considering their use since they will have more credit than a website without any citations or resources available. Being digitally literate is key in surviving today’s business world. People understand markets based on online information, or learn about popular culture by viewing what kids are checking online. This can help with advertising or knowing your audience in today’s world. Being digitally literate also helps with keeping up to date with new systems (such as updates to APA or MLA style) since the updates can be seen immediately online rather than waiting for a new version to be published.

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About Kori Birch

Student in the Liberal Arts program focusing on Communication, particularly online communication and its effects on the classroom environment.