I have been finding this subject, ETL501 The Information Environment, much more manageable and practical than the last. I actually feel up to date on the reading and on top of the assignment. What a treat! The forums are well organised, with groups of people being asked to contribute each week, so we are not inundated with posts. I expected a little more contribution on the forum from our subject co-ordinator James Herring but I’m now used to the idea that it really is a place for us to share our learning and I suppose he only needs to add something if we are really stuck or wrong. When it comes to the assignment, James is prompt to answer questions and provide guidance.
The assignment has been very useful. We need to evaluate two sets of website evaluation criteria and then use them to evaluate four websites on a topic of our choice. Even if I don’t do well in the assignment (and I am still lacking confidence after my disastrous first experience) I will have got so much out of it. I’ve read widely and looked at so many criteria that the key points are firmly in my head. I go with Alexander and Tate’s (1999) reliability elements: authority, accuracy, objectivity, currency, coverage and audience. Then I add some of Herring’s (2004) and Schrock‘s (1999) educational criteria: relevance, suitability, language level and overall appeal, as well as their suggestions for technical criteria: design, stability, navigation, speed of loading, graphics, level of advertising and need for plug-ins.
One of the sets of criteria I evaluated came from the American Library Association (2009) and it’s comprehensive and clear, but it’s possibly a little repetitive and there are a lot of points. I like a set of criteria which is a manageable size, even though it’s hard to cover everything, and somehow memorable. What I don’t like though, in something like Neutral Bay Public’s CCs, is that the natural grouping of criteria gets lost in the effort to make them fit a memorable concept. That’s why I didn’t love Schrock’s ABC, even though it’s so thorough, because it’s a bit scattered. So there’s a challenge for me, to create my own brilliant set!
The other thing that struck me in doing this assignment is that finding the right websites for a very specific purpose is actually very hard! I chose Minibeasts as my topic, and settled on a Year One level, as that’s a level I know well, and I thought it would be easy – there were so many relevant sites! Once I came to evaluate them though, I found that most were too difficult and some that were just right, content-wise, were horribly designed and didn’t work well on a technical level. Of course the easy thing to do would be to adjust my pretend task upwards to make it a year 3/4 task, but no, I’m taking this on as a challenge now.
I’m looking forward to the second assignment, where we design a pathfinder on our topic on a website or a wiki. I can’t wait to get into a school and actually do this stuff for people who will use it.