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Read more about Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers

Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers

(18 reviews)

Mike Caulfield, Washington State University Vancouver

Copyright Year: 2017

Publisher: Mike Caulfield

Language: English

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Reviewed by Mary Anderson, Public Service & Integrated Learning Librarian, Central College on 8/26/21

Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers provides an excellent introduction to practical fact-checking strategies particularly for social media. Given this focus, it does not have a comprehensive approach to web literacy as a whole, but the four... read more

Reviewed by Deborah Walsh, Adjunct Professor, College of DuPage on 4/27/21

The textbook appears to adequately address established and recommended fact-checking techniques with regard to web information accuracy. It is well organized, and allows the user to find specific topics with a well-structured index. read more

Reviewed by Cynthia Cummings, Instructor, Bunker Hill Community College on 6/30/20

Caulfield's (2017) ‘Web Literacy for Student Fact Checkers’ is valuable reading for secondary and post-secondary students using the internet to complete their studies. Chapter reading and activities on fact-checking can be adapted for humanities... read more

Reviewed by Divonna Stebick, Associate Professor, Gettysburg College on 4/15/20

Caulfield's text goes deep into web literacies which is very helpful for those of us who teach information literacy skills to our students. His methods are simple, yet powerful to give students a strong platform for critiquing as they read and learn. read more

Reviewed by Eileen Wright, Reference Librarian/Archivist, Montana State University - Billings on 7/31/19

This is a highly focused textbook on web literacy and specifically social media platforms. The text is intended to supplement general information literacy concepts. It is quite comprehensive when discussing the mechanics of fact-checking... read more

Reviewed by greg zobel, Associate Professor, Western Oregon University on 4/15/19

Multiple activities addressing key components in web-based content and delivery. Would like to have seen more information about video generally speaking, and YouTube and Facebook specifically, but overall coverage is solid. Definitely works to... read more

Reviewed by Pam Gladis, Associate Professor of Library, Southwest Minnesota State University on 12/20/18

The book is comprehensive when considering web literacy in the context of reading and evaluating information found on the web. Other aspects of web literacy are not covered (e.g., synthesizing, designing, contributing, etc.). The author provides... read more

Reviewed by Luis Occena, Associate Professor, University of Missouri on 5/21/18

The book covers a wide variety of topics on fact checking on the web, and some related subjects. Not being an expert in this field, difficult to say if his coverage was comprehensive. read more

Reviewed by Britney Mann, Senior Academic Advisor I and Instructor, Oklahoma State University on 5/21/18

The book has a nice table of contents that clearly outlines the topics included. It covers a wide range of useful techniques and tips for web literacy, but is incomplete. read more

Reviewed by Amy Barlow, Assistant Professor and Reference Librarian, Rhode Island College on 3/27/18

In academic research, it is not uncommon for students to ask educators to assist them with source evaluation. This is a critical skill that students want to master. Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers is a practical textbook that provides both... read more

Reviewed by Michelle Walker, Liaison Librarian, University of Sunderland on 2/1/18

The aim of the book is to support students with fact checking online sources in a practical and engaging way and I think it achieves this aim well. Much of the introduction resonated with my experiences of teaching students and this is a useful... read more

Reviewed by Emily Rimland, Associate Librarian, Information Literacy Librarian and Learning Technologies Coordinator, Penn State on 2/1/18

It should be noted that web literacy here is meant as a specific subset of broader concepts such as information literacy or digital literacy. The text covers this specific "slice" of literacy well and provides concrete and specific examples of how... read more

Reviewed by Nina Battistini, MLIS, PhD, Librarian, Alexandria Technical & Community College on 2/1/18

This book convincingly argues that fact-checking on the web is a seldom taught but necessary skill. A variety of web literacy techniques are explored, using specific strategies with examples that are easy to replicate or practice in class, small... read more

Reviewed by Hailley Fargo, Student Engagement Librarian, Penn State University on 2/1/18

The author opens this text by saying this is a practical guide to aims to help readers/students get closer to the truth (pg. 5). The text, overall, does a good job of this mission. It covers many skills and attitudes to take when considering web... read more

Reviewed by Juliana Boner, Academic Librarian, Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Cambridge on 2/1/18

This text covers the area of web literacy appropriately. It is comprehensive in terms of searching the web. Topics such as scholarly journals are touched on lightly, but the focus is on web searching. The table of contents is thorough, and the... read more

Reviewed by Danisha Baker-Whitaker, MLIS, PhD Student, North Carolina State University on 6/20/17

This text fulfills its promise to provide students with engaging, relevant, and practical methods to verify information shared on the internet. It lays out a logical and digestible plan to assist students uncover truth, or at least trace the... read more

Reviewed by Lauren Goode, Digital Services Librarian, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, William & Mary on 6/20/17

This text comprehensive in it's coverage of how to evaluate the vast reaches of the internet, at least in the scope of popular websites, social media, and some academic sources. The table of contents is well laid out and a user can quickly... read more

Reviewed by Daniel Ayala, Instructor, Chemeketa Community College on 6/20/17

This text assumes that the student has a familiarity with the Internet and basic search engine queries. I have found that today’s undergraduates have a greater level of comfort with tablet and smartphone interfaces than more historically... read more

Table of Contents

Part I. Four Strategies and a Habit

  • 1. Why This Book?
  • 2. Four Strategies
  • 3. Building a Fact-Checking Habit by Checking Your Emotions

Part II. Look for Previous Work

  • 4. How to Use Previous Work
  • 5. Fact-checking Sites
  • 6. Wikipedia

Part III. Go Upstream

  • 7. Go Upstream to Find the Source
  • 8. Identifying Sponsored Content
  • 9. Activity: Spot Sponsored Content
  • 10. Understanding Syndication
  • 11. Tracking the Source of Viral Content
  • 12. Tracking the Source of Viral Photos
  • 13. Using Google Reverse Image Search
  • 14. Filtering by Time and Place to Find the Original
  • 15. Activity: Trace Viral Photos Upstream

Part IV. Read Laterally

  • 16. What "Reading Laterally" Means
  • 17. Evaluating a Website or Publication's Authority
  • 18. Basic Techniques: Domain Searches, WHOIS
  • 19. Activity: Evaluate a Site
  • 20. Stupid Journal Tricks
  • 21. Finding a Journal's Impact Factor
  • 22. Using Google Scholar to Check Author Expertise
  • 23. How to Think About Research
  • 24. Finding High Quality Secondary Sources
  • 25. Choosing Your Experts First
  • 26. Evaluating News Sources
  • 27. National Newspapers of Record
  • 28. Activity: Expert or Crank?
  • 29. Activity: Find Top Authorities for a Subject

Part V. Field Guide

  • 30. Verifying Twitter Identity
  • 31. Activity: Verify a Twitter Account
  • 32. Using the Wayback Machine to Check for Page Changes
  • 33. Finding Out When a Page Was Published Using Google
  • 34. Using Google Books to Track Down Quotes
  • 35. Searching TV Transcripts with the Internet Archive
  • 36. Using Buzzsumo To Find Highly Viral Stories

Part VI. Field Guide (Unfinished Articles)

  • 37. Unfinished Articles
  • 38. Finding Out Who Owns a Server
  • 39. Finding Out When a Site Was Launched
  • 40. Avoiding Confirmation Bias In Searches
  • 41. Finding the Best Possible Opposition
  • 42. Advanced Wikipedia
  • 43. Promoted Tweets

Ancillary Material

Submit ancillary resource

About the Book

The web gives us many such strategies and tactics and tools, which, properly used, can get students closer to the truth of a statement or image within seconds. For some reason we have decided not to teach students these specific techniques. As many people have noted, the web is both the largest propaganda machine ever created and the most amazing fact-checking tool ever invented. But if we haven't taught our students those capabilities is it any surprise that propaganda is winning?

This is an unabashedly practical guide for the student fact-checker. It supplements generic information literacy with the specific web-based techniques that can get you closer to the truth on the web more quickly.

About the Contributors


Mike Caulfield is currently the director of blended and networked learning at Washington State University Vancouver, and the editor of the New Horizons column for the OpenCourseWare Consortium.

Before that he was employed by Keene State College as an instructional designer,  and by MIT as director of community outreach for the OpenCourseWare Consortium.

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