The power or curse of the internet… What is valid, accurate, and legitimate? [update]

Updated within the post.  See the [update] indicators.

Ok, I was playing with Google Reader – Play tonight while reviewing some of my feeds, and tripped across this…

 

http://www.youtube.com/v/hpoAtwVyzZI&fs=1

 

Now on the surface, the video is really well done.  Although, I wonder what Lee LeFever (Common Craft) feels about others mimicking his style and format… The whiteboard simplicity works wonders regardless of the topic…

The information looks very legitimate, but I am not a chemist to confirm what is in the video is accurate, however, in looking into Wellness Works, I honestly get more concerned.  I keep asking myself: How do I know if this information and company is legitimate? Is this information accurate? Can I verify this information in some way?

Based on appearances alone, the website is very professional and contains quite a bit of information. However, I simply cannot figure out what individuals / companies are actually behind or part of this company.  What are their credentials to be a valid source of information.  Take this for example:

“Our Team of Experts”

“Wellness Works was developed out of an understanding that changing lives requires more than just information. Our programs are the result of the combined energies of our well-rounded team of experts from several disciplines of workplace improvement. Our talented team has been changing lives for decades in the fields of Nutrition, Exercise Physiology, Behavioral Science, and Education. Individual members hold advanced degrees in their field as well as certifications from the American College of Sports Medicine, National Academy of Sports Medicine, The American Council on Exercise, and The National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Through the strength and experience of our team, your organization can reduce healthcare spending and improve productivity by adopting a culture of wellness.”

But who are you? No names, vague affiliations, references to advanced degrees, but who are you? Honestly, the entire site is like this.  Seemingly good information, by questionable credibility and legitimacy… Pulling a quick “whois” from Internic, I learned that the “registrant” for the site was godaddy.com. Because I use godaddy.com for my site registrations as well, it was easy for me to learn WHO actually registered wellness-works.net.

WhoIs Search Results
So, now I have learned a couple more pieces of information. Both a contact (Josh Little) and a different company name (Maestro Learning). This also coincides with a clue on the Wellness Works website as well.

Http___www.wellness-works.net_about.html
Taking a look at the Maestro eLearning site, I keep on digging for information. Again, this is another well built professional looking site. The fact that they have a client list of well know companies, testimonials, begins to lend better background on legitimacy, but not much more information that I really had before. What else will the site tell me? Looking at the “About” page I find a bit more qualifying and cross verification information:

“Maestro was created out of the idea that “there has to be something better.” This conclusion was drawn after an exhaustive search for an eLearning partner by the founder of the company, Josh Little, during his tenure as a National Training Manager for a major medical device company.”

Well, here is the first reference to a specific person (Josh Little) who is actually working for this company. However, vague reference to a “major medical device company” again causes (should cause) legitimacy concerns. The remainder of the information similar to the Wellness-Works site is vague and general as well. So, I still need more information to get any sort of comfort level

At the bottom of the site, there are links to social networking sites… Getting better in a way, but can’t anyone start a youtube or twitter account?

Maestro eLearning | ContactNow, Linkedin is a business level social networking site. Typically individuals with Linkedin accounts are going to do all they can to represent themselves as accurately as possible because of the very nature of the Linkedin’s network. So, let’s look there. Bingo. Tangible information about the real people who are at least behind Maestro eLearning:

 

Maestro eLearning Company Profile | LinkedIn
Josh’s Bio:

Josh Little | LinkedIn
Legitimacy and credibility for Maestro eLearning is climbing rapidly. Now let’s look at the Facebook site:

Maestro eLearning | Facebook
The latest post, with photo’s of Josh Little with Michigan’s Governor. Additionally scrolling up and down the Facebook page we see reference links to news sites, articles, honors and more. Maestro eLearning is a very legitimate company, one of the top 50 companies to watch in Michigan actually. Very cool. But where does that leave us in our search for credibility and legitimacy for Wellness Works? After all that was the entire idea… how to we verify the credibility of a video we saw posted on YouTube…

In all honesty, we are not that much closer, but I would venture to guess that most individuals would lean toward a “gut” feel that says because of the affiliated “parent” organizations credibility one can be pretty confident that we have a good source of wellness information in Wellness Works.

[update: We still have to check the validity of the information contained in the video… Are there other sites where we can cross-check this information?

  • What Google searches would you recommend to validate the video information?
  • Healthcare? Chemistry? pH? Acid and Alkaline foods?
  • What about the pH statistical claims of 6.8 to 7.3?
  • How about the Litmus Paper test?

end of update]

Now, here we are at the end of a post that started out as a simple link to a good quality video with interesting information about nutrition. I was going to chalk this up to to “random coolness” initially, before I started wondering WHO was behind the video logo… However after a 20 minute focused internet search, I have learned so much more it turned into an hour long blog post delving into two companies that I never knew existed.

I will finish with a couple of education questions:

  • Can you do research like this?
  • Can your students”
  • Are you asking them to?
  • Are you teaching them the skills necessary to accomplish something line this?
  • Do we dismiss questioning and dep learning because surface presentation “looks professional”?
  • [update: Is the information contained in the video valid just because research indicates that the site is?]
  • What would your recommendations be for Wellness Works?

The curse of the internet is that anyone can create just about anything at will… however, the power of the internet is the ability learn much more than just what we see on the surface…

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3 thoughts on “The power or curse of the internet… What is valid, accurate, and legitimate? [update]

  1. Scott,
    You needed to take your search for validity one step further. You researched the “logo” and the producer of the video, but you also needed to check on the validity of the information presented. Can you find corroborating information on other sites? What supporting information can be found as well. When teaching adults to search for information on the Web, I have to make sure they not only check for site legitimacy, but also information accuracy.
    Add those to your list for educators. Great post!

  2. Thanks for the comment Michelle. I completely agree… By midnight I think that I just got tired, and I didn’t look to do the most basic of things… Attempt to validate the actual information within the video. I will update the post with the information and question she suggests. Good catch and thanks.

  3. Hey Scott,

    Great piece on how to dig in and become a true learning – one who takes the pursuit into their own hands. At first, I was alarmed to see my information (including my home phone number) on your post. While I recognize this is public information, I was concerned that this was some sort of attack. As I read your post, I understand your mission. I also understand your concerns with the ambiguous nature of the Wellness Works content. Chris Johnson of On Target Living is a nutritionist who has done extensive research in this area. We worked with Chris when creating the content. You can find him or learn more from his books at http://ontargetliving.com.

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