teen learning online

Teen Independent Learning Online: Visual Literacy Tools for Assessing Credibility
The Digital Edge, Innovations and Challenges, iDMAa 2009 Conference, Ball State, Muncie, IN. Fall 2009 Presented a paper and prototype.

According to research done by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University, teens tend to rely on the look and feel of online information to determine content credibility. As design software and image manipulation tools have become more available, average users can create content that looks professional and therefore trustworthy, however they may not be experts. Subtleties such as reserved tone, subdued color palette and balanced composition look professional to inexperienced teens who may interpret content as credible.

The Internet, which many high school teens utilize for academic research, offers multiple perspectives. (Rich,1) The Internet also allows anyone to participate in public discourse, positioning amateurs and experts at the same level of credibility. The flattening of source credibility is called “side-by-sideness” and is problematic for teens with limited cognitive abilities and life experiences to judge what they see.

Four types of assessment are used specifically in online environments relating to credibility: relationships over time (experienced), third party recommendations (reputed), cultural or media based assumptions (presumed) and the look and feel of information (surface). (Fogg, 131) Through the development of online tools, my paper and interface seek to assist students in critically sorting through complex visual information and evaluate the credibility of multiple perspectives.