Western Civilization Webography

by John Ottenhoff, Associated Colleges of the Midwest

westciv.gifProfessor T. Mills Kelly, Associate Director of the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, and several colleagues have created an impressive Webography with student reviews of resources for western civilization courses.

Description from the site at http://chnm.gmu.edu/webography/index.php:

Each website in the Project database has been reviewed by one or more students, and has a rating attached to it, based upon a series of criteria, including the site’s accuracy, currency, and objectivity. In addition, each record includes a brief word annotation, describing the contents of the site and its strengths and weaknesses. All records are fully searchable, either by keyword or according to a pre-determined scheme.

The project addresses several of the issues raised by the increasing use by undergraduate students of web-based sources for their research and writing. Too often students use web-based sources uncritically or at least without sufficient regard for the quality of the sources they find on the web. When they use sources of dubious value, instructors and students end up dissatisfied–the instructors with the quality of their students’ work, and the students with their grades.

But what if both students and instructors embraced the sources available on the web, making the analysis of these sources a central problem in a course? The Webography Project provides a vehicle for just that sort of approach to teaching and learning.