ICT as a cognitive tool (ie. Webquests)

The first time I had ever heard about a Webquest was in today’s lecture which made them sound quite interesting, especially for primary school students. They were described as “frameworks that allow for rich learning experiences”. Webquests are a discovery learning tool created online in the form of structured research project. They are cognitive tools that support individual and collaborative learning in the classroom environment. They are designed to be either short-term Webquests where they can be completed in 1 to 3 class periods, or long-term, requiring 1 week to 1 month of lessons.

Here is an example of an upper primary Webquest used to teach students about frog deformities…
http://projects.edtech.sandi.net/sessions/frogs/

Teachers use Webquests to provide scaffolded learning within a constructivist learning environment. According to Campbell’s (2011) lecture notes, Webquests can be used in the classroom when you want students to tackle complex or difficult questions, the subject area requires a deeper understanding and when students would benefit from collaborative learning engagements. The task is often posed as real-world experience which motivates the students and allows them to use their prior knowledge to apply to their assignment. The use of Webquests in the classroom enables the development of creativity by allowing students to present their work in various ways and use the internet and its resources to discover new and interesting information relevant to the task. The learning process is scaffolded to promote higher order thinking. Dodge (1995) describes the scaffold of a Webquest to include:

– Introduction
– Task (including what the end product will be)
– Information sources
– Process (divided into steps on how to reach the end product)
– Guidance/assessment (including a rubric)
– Conclusion

Although Dodge displays a great understanding of Webquests and provides examples of different types, I am concerned that it has not been updated since 1997 therefore is somewhat reliable. Dodge fails to note that Webquests can also include a Teacher’s Notes page and Credits/References page. Teacher’s Notes provide teachers with the learning stage, year level, outcomes and other important notes or instructions they may need before giving their students the Webquest to complete. The Credits/References page gives the location of where the information used to create the Webquest comes from.

McKenzie’s (2000)‘The Question is the answer’ discusses the affects of good research when producing a Webquest. This article explains how appropriate questioning when approaching research lead to affective learning. Appropriate and important questioning is based on asking

WHY?
HOW?
WHICH IS BEST?

Through having a research cycle it provides students with the ability to stay on task and to work efficiently. This article further discusses the benefits of research cycles and how they allow the researcher to be selective within their findings. Effective research cycles involve the following process by McKenzie (2000):

QUESTION– identifying and listening questions you need to explore.
PLAN– developing a strategy to find pertinent information rapidly.
GATHER– harvesting information which casts light on the key questions.
SORT, SIFT AND ANALYSE– rearranging the puzzle pieces, looking for patterns.
SYNTHESIZE– making sense of the puzzle pieces, getting the picture.
EVALUATE– figuring out what is missing, what else is needed.”

I found the reading by McKenzie to be very reliable and useful. It is appropriate for those who wish to further their knowledge on Webquests. The structure and layout of the article as well as the visual aids make it straightforward and easy to understand.

References

Dodge, B. (1995). Some Thoughts About WebQuests. Retrieved March 25, 2011 from
http://webquest.sdsu.edu/about_webquests.html

McKenzie, J (2000). The question is the answer. Retrieved March 24, 2011 from
http://questioning.org/module/module1.html

Solis, B. (1999) Freaky Frogs Webquest. Retrieved March 22, 2011 from
http://projects.edtech.sandi.net/sessions/frogs/

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: