A WebQuest is "an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the internet, optionally supplemented with videoconferencing" (Dodge, 1995a; Dodge, 1995b). This technology tool is a completely new experience for me, as I have never interacted or seen one before. When looking through, Scot Albred’s (2004) ‘Antarctic Ice to Water Australia’, and Tom March’s (n/d) ‘Freedom Fighter or Terrorist?’ WebQuests, I was able to gain considerable understandings of how they work, the content they should contain, and ideas of how I can use them in my profession. Both WebQuests showed such realistic, relevant and real life situations that would bring meaning and engagement to the given tasks. The Antarctic Iceberg expedition may not be as relevant today as it was when they were debating the decision. But it shows the aspects of the past options and decisions our country made towards defeating the drought, this is part of the history of our country. September 11, 2001 was the day the world was shaken by terrorist, but what is terrorism? The learners are faced with such a real life experience that could have had repercussions on their own life. It challenges them to step outside of their beliefs and take on an opposite perception, to deciphering what tourism actually is. Both these WebQuest are written with such a high standard that it guides the learners into self discovery and critical thinking.
WebQuests are excellent pedagogy tools that create a learner centered approach, not the traditional setting where the learners are all given the same task and content at the same time, and they all work at the same pace. Instead WebQuests contain one main focus and revolve around both individual and collaborative group work to decipher the main concept. This enables learners to take on different views of their choice and critically seek out different perspectives, beliefs, and challenges within that view point.
As a Learning Manager, when designing a WebQuest to be used in the classroom, I would create it as a learner centered task that aligns with Oliver’s (1999) learning framework. The WebQuest would have to be explicitly designed to identify “learning activities” that promote higher order thinking and critical analyses. Within each activity a group of relevant external links to “learning resources” would be assessable, showing the one website required rather than searching through multiple sites, this protects them from assessing unwanted sources. As the Learning Manager I would link the activities and resources into practical and explicit teaching support on the specific strategies required to complete the tasks. If used in the older grades, once the WebQuest had been scaffolded to suit their relevance, the learners would work through each stage at a pace that suits them and seek support only at their own discretion and during explicit teaching sessions. In the lower years, Oliver’s (1999) three elements would all work more closely together to help the learners’ conceptual understanding of WebQuests. Lessons would be more directed and consist of whole class, individually and group activities directed, but still with relevance and a real life concept that would challenge them into higher order thinking and critical analyses.
I have provided very basic example that I am not even sure if they will work, I think I might be giving the older years a little too much independency. As I have not used or created WebQuests before I am not sure of the best possible ways to use them. I am looking forward to reading my colleagues postings on this technology tool. To help me understand this concept more I found a YouTube series called “WebQuest 101 - Part 1: What is a WebQuest, Part 2: How to Make a WebQuest, Part 3: Questgarden and Part 4: Process, (YouTube, 2009)watch them. Let me know what you think.
Until my next learning experience
Oliver, R. (1999). Exploring strategies for online teaching and learning. Retrieved July 20, 2009, from: http://www.learningdesigns.uow.edu.au/project/learn_design.htm
YouTube. (2009). WebQuest 101. Accessed August 10, 2009, from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4rel5qOPvU