ETL 501. Topic 3. Critical Evaluation of Print & Electronic Resources

Key criteria for evaluating websites:

Educational: How suitable is the website for the purpose? Does the site meet the TL’s or teacher’s purpose?

  • What is the range of reading levels of the student group for whom the website is being considered?
  • Language level plus clarity of language.
  • Does the site contain activities for students?
  • Does the site allow for differentiation?
  • Will the site extend the learning of the student group?
  • Cognitive level
  •  Age appropriateness
  •  Curriculum relevance
  • Range of media

Technical: The technical aspects of the site. Examples:

  • Quick to load, good use of colour and layout, clear text,  (and is at an appropriate language level)
  • Quick to load, good use of colour and layout, (range of media)
  • Quick to load, good use of colour and layout, range of media, (plus criteria such as level and clarity of language)


  • Cost,
  • Download time (bandwidth)
  • Navigation
  • Design and layout
  • Use of colour (colour blindness?)
  • Use of images (captions, copyright?)
    • Use of good colour and space (use of white space and chunking the text into small paragraphs).


  • Currency (date of publication)
  • Authority (of the author)
  • Content accuracy
  • Bias or opinion
  • Longevity (of the site)
  • Type of site (government, organisation, personal or blog
  • Duty of care (links offsite)

Cyberguide Ratings:

Evaluate this tool as a guide to assessing the educational value of a site. Does this list cover all the criteria that you might apply? How would you rate this tool? What criteria might you add?

Educational Criteria:

  • This site is good in regards to technical and reliability criteria but fails to mention reading levels, age appropriateness, cognitive levels, , language level, curriculum relevance,  differentiation, activities for students, extending learning or a range of media. It isn’t a balanced website evaluation tool to use.

Website Evaluation –Forum

Reliability Criteria:


  • What is the site’s date of publication?
  • Who is the author and are they reputable?
  • Is the content accurate and up-to-date?
  • Is the content biased and does it give a balanced opinion?
  • How long has the site existed? Needs to be up-dated or fairly new?
  • Is it an educational site, government, organisation or personal site like a blog?
  • Are there any links that go offsite and are they appropriate for student use?


  • In relation to a particular topic: What date was the data collected or is it current?
  • What is the efficiency of the site and is it necessary to use the site at a particular time of day to prevent overload by a group of students?
  • Is there a bibliography to find and compare additional information on the topic?
  • Are there any requirements for use on the site that require registration?

Technical Criteria:

  • Do any pictures or photographs on the page add to the information?
  • Is the format standard and readable with your browser?
  • Are the links clearly visable or annotated and explanatory?
  • On supporting pages is there a link back to the Home Page?
  • Is there a table on the page? If it is turned off is there alternate text available?
  • Are there headings and sub-headings on the page? If so, are they helpful?

In your group forum under the Website Evaluation thread, use the readings to discuss your thoughts on website evaluation. Remember to consider the three areas of educational quality/relevancy, reliability and technical aspects. What you are doing here is adding extra criteria to your selection criteria that you explored in ETL503 Collection Development.


I think the three areas of educational, technical and reliability criteria are excellent aspects to consider and use when selecting website evaluation models for students and staff.  I particularly liked Schrock’s The ABC’s of Website Evaluation (2002) and her Guide to Everything site where I found several impressive readings and evaluation models. I have added some more questions in the reliability and technical areas for consideration.


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