Monday, October 14, 2013

Web Quality (or Primary Sources) Game

For the longest time I've wanted to figure out a way to spice up my instruction regarding web evaluation. I wanted to do something that would emphasize the evaluation criteria and the need for students to dig deeper into their evaluation and reflection process when doing online research.  I have used my Wikipedia example in the past (found on slide 12 in the presentation below--you may wish to make it full screen to check out those circled parts; that definitely helps students think about the changing nature of information on the web--especially community edited information), but wanted something more interactive.

That's when the idea to do "Telephone Pictionary" or "Teletionary" or "Pictaphone" came to me. Though it's really well suited for explaining primary resources, this activity can also hammer home the importance of knowing where your information is coming from, just as a general concept.  I typed 8 different sayings into a table in MS word and cut the pages in half lengthwise (below).

Then I cut squares out of folded in half cardstock (I used construction paper for my first semester with this game, but it just didn't hold up so I switched to cardstock) so that only 2 boxes would show.

Every student starts with the given prompt and then draws a picture. They cover up the prompt so that just their picture shows and pass it along to the next person in the line, who then writes a new caption based on their interpretation of the drawing. They cover up the picture so that only their caption shows and pass it along to the next person. This continues in a cycle until all boxes are filled.  We then discuss how the messages and pictures changed over time (usually with lots of giggling as some of the changes can be pretty silly...), and then we tie it back in to research and web quality (outlined in the presentation below).

After we go through the web evaluation criteria I show the students how to use Google's advanced search tool, and then they're off to complete the web evaluation checklist (digitized using Google Forms--the link is on slide 18) for 2 websites related to their paper topics. Usually this activity works best with classes that are 80 minutes long (our Tues./Thurs. classes), but with a few modifications we have made this work in 50 minute classes. 

I have had several professors compliment me on this activity and note how their students' web search skills improved noticeably after this lesson. I think the activity helps students remember that they really need to look more closely at the resources they are selecting.  

What fun games do you use in your library instruction? 


  1. I love this activity. I have used it many times and students love it and it gets the point across quite well. Cara deserves a lot of credit for thinking of something so unique. Try it at your institution too!

    1. Thanks, Dan! I like hearing about how it goes in your instruction sessions and I'd love to see how other institutions put their own spin on it, too!