Using the Internet for Study
The internet is a good source of information when studying for written or oral exams. This information can be used to learn and to support your study.
However, much of the information on the internet is in some way incorrect.
Incorrect information has a negative impact on learning and exam results. It is important to be able to distinguish between information that is of use to us and incorrect information, that is of no use to us.
Incorrect information is information that is wrong, out of date or inaccurate.
Websites may contain information that is incorrect for any of these reasons:
wrong – the facts stated are incorrect
out of date – the facts may have been correct when the website was produced, but are no longer correct
inaccurate – the facts may be largely correct, but may contain some errors
When information is correct, it is ‘reliable’. Reliable information is a good and a useful studying aid. The less reliable the information, the less useful it is.
Factors to consider when using information from the internet
Incorrect information, when analysing information as being correct, there are certain factors to look for:
Source – who has produced the information? Information from an authoritative, well-known organisation or person is likely to be correct. Information from wikis, blogs and YouTube may be less valuable because they may not authoritative – anyone can update a wiki or write a blog. As such, they may contain incorrect information. Examples of reliable sources of information are M Notices produced by the MCA, MSO or MAIB reports etc.
Opinion or fact – does the website state facts or opinions? Opinions are points of view, not facts. Whilst opinions should be considered and may be interesting, as information they have less value than facts.
Statements without facts – does the website contain statements that cannot be backed up by facts? Such statements are opinions, and have little value.
Date of publication – when was the website was last updated? Websites that have not been updated for a long time may no longer be accurate.