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Sample Syllabus Copy

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Assignment: Improving Our Information Environment

Bad information about ____________ is everywhere, and many common searches on the web return misinformation. We can choose to see this situation in terms of the "information environment", and bad or poor quality information as "information pollution" that degrades the information environment we all share. But we don't have to accept this situation as inevitable. We can, as students and scholars, make the information environment better.

For the Improving Our Information Environment activity you will, along with your partner or group, identify a question about ____________ for which the current top Google results are either flawed or incomplete. You will write up that question and answer it for posting to the Digipo site ( www.digipo.io). If you wish, you can choose submit your question and answer for permanent inclusion on the site, which normally will result in your answer coming up in Google responses to the question you chose (permanent submission to the site is optional, not mandatory, and acceptance may be dependent on quality).

Your work will be assessed on the following criteria. These criteria are all derived from the goal of the assignment: to produce useful, accurate information that people can understand and feel they can trust.

  • Choice of question: Did you choose a question about which there is currently misinformation or a lack of information? Your completed assignment should show that the question is either matter of some disagreement or an issue on which there is no significant disagreement, but about which there is significant misinformation on the web.
  • Quality of explanation: In answering the question do you write with clarity while still showing the level of nuance the subject requires?
  • Quality of Sourcing: Do you source your support for the answer through the appropriate use of hyperlinks? Are your sources reliable, and do they tap into relevant expertise in the field? For statistical questions do you note both the source of the statistics and any relevant information about how they were collected and by whom?
  • Breadth of sourcing: Do you use a variety of sources, old and new, to show the points of scholarly consensus and disagreement? For statistical questions, do you provide multiple sources if required and available?
  • Style: Does your answer project authority through use of proper grammar, clear writing, and freedom from spelling errors? Where possible, do you make use of properly cited images, videos, and other media? Do you maintain a neutral, unemotional tone throughout?

Examples of previous exemplary work:

You can get started by reading the first four chapters of Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers. (Read through the chapter titled "Reading Laterally"; the four chapters should take about two hours total). This text shows you how to use the web to sort low quality sources from high quality ones, and trace information to its original souce.

The links to the documents you will use to compose your answers will be posted in Blackboard, as will more detailed grading criteria.


All Content released CC0 (Public Domain) by the Digital Polarization Initiative.

The Digital Polarization Initiative is a cross-institutional project that encourages students to investigate and verify the information they find online. Articles are student-produced, and should be checked for accuracy before citation as sources.

DigiPo members can edit this page

Photo Credit: Header photos generate in randomly. Check this page for a list of photography credits and licensing.

The Digital Polarization Initiative is a student-run project which allows university students to investigate questions of truth and authority on the web and publish their results. Learn more, or see our index. Photo credits here. DigiPo members can edit this page.