Yesterday was Martin Luther King day, and I was home with my wife and daughter – that’s what happens when we all either work for or attend school. My daughter was telling me about the classes she has coming up for second semester, and we ended up talking about Internet research. She told me that they aren’t allowed to use Wikipedia, or websites that are from .COM domains. Rather, they are to use .ORG, .NET, or .GOV domains because those are reputable sources of information (nevermind the fact that Wikipedia is a .ORG domain).
I disagree with not being allowed to use Wikipedia, but that’s another story. I take issue with the fact that students are (incorrectly) being told that .ORG, .NET, and .GOV sites should be treated as reputable sources. To illustrate this point to my daughter, I showed her the http://www.martinlutherking.org (I’m not linking to it due to the horrible content) website which is run by a white supremacist group. The information on that site is quite different than what she has learned in school, and I told her that according to her school, that website would be a reputable source of information.
To further drive my point home, I took her to GoDaddy.com and searched for domains that we could register. We decided that cruiseohio.com would probably not be taken. Low and behold, they offered us the .NET, and .ORG versions of the domain as well.
I am not sure where her teachers heard that .ORG and .NET domains should be treated as reputable, but I’m working on finding out. If we are going to teach children how to determine if a website is credible or not, they should at least be given a fighting chance – not misled from the start.
DISCLAIMER: My daughter is 12 years-old and is NEVER wrong. I’m taking her word for this but am going to do my homework to be certain.