The widespread use of the Internet and the Web as educational tools, despite the fact that they were not designed for educational purposes, raises the question whether students possess the ability to effectively cope with the rapidly changing online information environment. However, this presupposes first that teachers have to become dialectical readers of the Web and approach it critiquely. In this light, the objectives of the present study were twofold. First, we aimed at investigating the way in which a teacher can utilize web resources in the educational process, and especially in the Greek language instruction. The teacher provided the students with web resources as lesson material, after she was involved in a critical ‘dialogue’ with them. The second aim was to investigate the way students interpret critically and communicate effectively the content of those web resources by producing new constructions and representations of reality, and interacting with various systems of meanings and multiple channels of communication.
The discussions that took place during the intervention in relation to the given resources and the texts produced by the students, provided evidence that the later reached a degree of competence which enabled them to exhibit critical thinking skills towards web resources. These findings highlight the need for implementing critical literacy on the Web, by both teachers and students, in order not to take web information for granted, but challenge it. In conclusion, the study results pointed the urgent need for both teachers and students to establish and cultivate a critical stance towards web information resources.
Twenty two sixth-grade students who attended a state primary school in the city of Thessaloniki, northern Greece, participated in the study. The materials used consisted of web resources about the issue of “Employment”, as well as the texts produced by the students at the end of the teaching intervention. The web resources were selected according to their a) objectivity, b) authority, c) purpose and the way they involved students with learning process, d) content, e) currency and, f) suitability for the students’ age. The students in the context of their working groups were called to study the material they were given and drew up new texts, in order to make a newspaper at the end. The most interesting aspect of the intervention program was that the student textbook was not employed during the instructional process.