Help Students Navigate Our Digital Landscape

I love using this video with my 6th graders to introduce the topic of validity as they navigate our digital landscape. It helps to debunk their belief that everything they find online is true.

Our students are spending increasing amounts of time online to complete assignments. To help students develop as researchers and readers of digital texts, it’s important that they can distinguish some key features on a website that can demonstrate its trustworthiness.

So how can students tell if a website is credible? Here are six indicators that experts suggest students pay attention to in order to determine credibility.

Author – Is there a name provided or is there a veil of anonymity?

Date    – How recent has the site been updated?

Sources – Does the author provide where her/his information comes from? Are other sources used or does the author position her/himself as the expert? If so, what qualities this author to be an expert?

Type of Site – Is it a blog, run by an individual, not necessarily an expert? Or is it an online periodical like

Site Design – An organized, attractive site indicates time and care.

Writing Style – Are there mechanical errors? Is there a professional or casual tone to the writing?

In addition to students developing the skills they’ll need to determine the validity of digital texts and sources, it is essential that they understand what it means to be good digital citizens. As we celebrate digital learning this week and in the weeks ahead, an emphasis on safety is key.  This includes which sites students can visit, who students are permitted to correspond with, and teaching students to communicate respectfully. Developing clear ground rules that are reviewed routinely and posted can help students participate responsibly as digital learners.


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