Getting a college education has certainly broadened my view of the world and helped me to expand my way of thinking. My school has provided me with the resources that I need in order to expand my overall knowledge.
However, college can only do so much for you, and if you’re like me, you probably want to expand your knowledge even more. Here are some things that I have done in order to supplement my education on the internet.
Run Content Specific Searches
If you need to do research for a history course, make sure that you refine your searches so that you will get results relating to the history of a topic. Unfortunately, vague searches aren’t going to get you where you need to go.
Any time I run a search for a specific topic, I make sure that I include every important aspect of the topic. For instance, if I want to learn more about Britain’s policy of appeasement during World War II, I won’t simply search for “History of World War II”, but I will search using the specific term “appeasement”.
Check Your Sources, and Check Them Again
The internet has a wealth of information that’s available to everyone, but it has just as much misinformation as it does credible information. It’s very easy to end up on a site that seems credible but actually isn’t.
Any content that you read online ought to have links to other credible sources. If it doesn’t have any cited sources, that’s your first clue that it might not be a credible site.
I always run searches for the specific site in order to see what others are saying about them, which also helps to weed out the bad sites.
Wikipedia Isn’t Necessarily Your Enemy
You can’t cite a Wikipedia in your paper, but looking at the Wikipedia page for a specific topic is usually a good idea. At the very bottom of any Wikipedia article, there is a list of sources for the article. This can be extremely helpful when it comes to locating your own sources for your paper.
While my professors have made sure that I know not to cite Wiki articles, they’ve also expressed that Wikipedia is a good way to find my own sources.
Cross-Reference Online Sources With Your Curriculum Literature
With any paper, you’re generally going to be asked to use an assigned text as one source and then find your own sources on your own. If a source that you found online contradicts your assigned reading, there might be a problem.
Talk to Your Professor
Whenever I’m unsure as to whether or not a specific online source is credible, I always show it to my professor and talk to him or her about it. This not only helps to train me to find credible sources, but it also ensures that I will not use a source that isn’t credible in any paper that I write.