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Based on the issues addressed in the literature, as well as our own experiences with real library Internet-based assignments, our goal is to examine these practical problems, and suggest solutions by way of actual hands-on assignments that librarians and instructors can either use immediately, or easily modify to suit their own particular needs.Our approach to designing these assignments centered on defining appropriate goals - for both librarians, instructors, and students - for teaching Internet research skills.
Well-constructed assignments will also address the universal concern that "students and teachers need to recognize the current limitations of information found on the Internet." (Schrock, 1999) The first step towards building good Internet related assignments is to recognize relevant pitfalls in searching and evaluation.
By taking stock of Internet-related assignments that we regularly encounter in our library and the ones we have located from other institutions, we have grouped the assignments into three types.
The explanations and examples included in this paper can be used as either pieces or modules of a broader library instruction programme, or as stand-alone assignments designed around particular classes or curricula.
Library literature includes much on the problems of using the Internet for academic research (Cornell, 1999; Janes, 1999) and the fallibility of current search engine technology (Notess, 2000), as well as the importance of building strong librarian/instructor relationships (Kotter, 1999; Stebelman, 1999).
Internet information resources are fast seeping into the common consciousness of academia, taking their place alongside traditional academic resources in core research assignments.
Instructors at all course levels incorporate the Internet through such techniques as posting course syllabi and readings on the Web, using interactive course design packages such as Web CT and First Class, and using communication tools like chat software and Web bulletin boards.
New library assignments reflect this shift as well, with term papers and research projects asking students to use Web sites as an information resource, in addition to the standard literature of periodicals and monographs.
But the many pitfalls the library profession has learned in its own metamorphosis during the past decade are often repeated in these newer course assignments.
Often, we find that students and even faculty are facing this whole new ideology of information without the appropriate tools to discern facts from fictions.
Without publishers and editors as filters, Web information can be served up quickly and often with an apparently validating beauty, with tabloids appearing on equal ground with encyclopedias.