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RDN'S Internet Detective - Wise up to the Web

16 Jun 2008
RDN'S Internet Detective - Wise up to the Web

Internet Detective, a free online tutorial designed to help students develop the critical thinking required for their Internet research, was launched on the Web on June 13th 2006 in the RDN Virtual Training Suite.

The tutorial offers practical advice on evaluating the quality of websites and highlights the need for care when selecting online information sources to inform university or college work.

"Students are increasingly turning to the Internet to find information for their coursework or assignments, but they can be naive in the sources they choose. There is concern among lecturers and librarians that students often degrade their work by referencing inappropriate information sources and by failing to use the key scholarly materials that they should be using." (Emma Place, University of Bristol, co- author of Internet Detective).

The tutorial adopts a film noir detective metaphor to offer a light-hearted guide to developing Internet skills to help with studying and research.

It takes around an hour to complete and is divided into the following five sections:

- What's the Story? - aims to help students recognise the need to develop advanced Internet skills for university and college work.

- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - explains why information quality is an issue on the web, especially for academic research, and raises awareness of Internet hoaxes and scams.

- Detective Work -gives hints and tips that help students evaluate information found on the Internet.

- Get on the Case - enables students to try out their Internet Detective skills with practical exercises.

- Keep the Right Side of the Law - warns students about the dangers of plagiarism, copyright and incorrect use of citations and referencing.

Internet Detective was originally developed in 1998 with funding from the European Union and was translated into a number of different languages by national libraries and research organizations. The original version was withdrawn in 2005, but there was a high demand for its return, as issues of information quality and overload on the Internet persist.

"We used the tutorial within the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) at Manchester Metropolitan University and it has been very popular with tutors from a range of subjects, including Information Science, Law, Science and Engineering. Our user-testing suggests the new tutorial will be useful for students of all subjects new to studying at university level, or returning to study after a break" (Margaret Kendall, co-author of Internet Detective).

The new version, which is available on the Web or as a VLE download, is part of the RDN Virtual Training Suite. It has been developed by staff from ILRT at the University of Bristol and the Manchester Metropolitan University with funding from JISC, the HEFCE Learn Higher project (CETL) and the Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Information and Computer Sciences.

The tutorial is the first new initiative from Intute (currently known as the RDN), which was launched by JISC on July 13th as a national guide to the best of the Web for education and research.

Internet Detective is free for everyone to access from:

Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies

First Floor - Block B East O'Rahilly Building University College Cork Ireland