Using Web Quests in the Classroom
I really had no idea what a Web Quest was and I actually had never heard of it before this course. I needed to do a lot of reading to totally understand what they were and why you would use them in the classroom? I found it very difficult to grasp the concept of this technology. So to help myself out I explored some of the Web Quests going around. I found that they were all very similar in structure and provided students with a lot of scaffolding to point them in the right direction. One of the Web Quests that really caught my eye was “World Cultures Web Quest” which is found at http://bestwebquests.com/bwq/wqdetail.asp?siteid=196. These examples helped me to recognise how to use them within the classroom and the options are endless.
What is a Web Quest?
Libutti (2004) states that Web Quests are lesson plans based on an inquiry- orientated process with most, if not all, of the activities and related resources involving navigation of the Internet. Web Quests include everything that is right in modern education; they are student centered, discovery based, open ended, conducive to high order thinking, and best of all, appealing to even the most disengaged students (Thompson, 2007). Thompson (2007) states that a Web Quest is a way for students to integrate the information they find through their search on the Web into a creative product that stimulates them to think deeply about a topic that interests them.
Theory- Engagement Theory
Libutti (2004) states that Web Quests encourage students to control their own learning experience by evaluating the resources discovered in relationship to the specific task. Students have the opportunity to work in small, cooperative learning groups focused towards a synthesis project (Libutti, 2004). Small group collaboration in conjunction with meaningful learning is known to provide students with an engaging and authentic learning experience within the classroom. I think Web Quests create this opportunity for students. Kearsley and Schneiderman (1999) also support this statement by stating that the fundamental idea that is underlying the Engagement Theory is that students must be meaningfully engaged in learning activities through interaction with others and worthwhile tasks.
Web Quests can also promote critical thinking through tasks that allow students to logically proceed through the process of building on knowledge as it is discovered (Libutti, 2004). Not only do they promote critical thinking but special needs students can also benefit from Web Quests as the detailed process steps help the students by providing consistent and logical structures for learning (Libutti, 2004).
There are always going to be some implications when using a new technology in the classroom so teachers need to be aware and cater for these to make sure all students are still engaged in meaningful learning. The internet is a very unpredictable technology to use in the classroom and teachers must be wary of this. Some implications that could interrupt the students learning when using Web Quests could be:
· Students could use inaccurate information
· Computer access for all students
· Computer access for all students
Also using Web Quests can allow students to become complacent so teachers have to be aware that Web Quests are only a tool in helping students to learn new skills. Killen (2006) states that Web Quests are simply another learning tool and the goal is not for students to do them forever but to ultimately fade the use of this scaffolding so that in the end students are self-initiated, expert learners.
One of the major concerns in creating a Web Quest is the time taken to prepare it. It is very time consuming not only to create it and cover the curriculum but to also teach the students how to manoeuvre their way around the Web. However I think if teachers are prepared to expend the time to prepare fully it will be a very worthwhile learning experience for students. These are just some implications that could occur when using Web Quests. Teachers must be cognisant that many things can happen when using technology in the classroom so it is vital to be ready for the unpredictable.
Johnson, D., Muddux, C. & Liu, L (2001) Integration of Technology in the Classroom: Routledge; United States of America.
Kearsley, G & Schneiderman, B (1999) Engagement Theory - A framework for technology-based teaching and learning: Accessed August 4th 2009 http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm
Killen, R (2006) Effective Teaching Strategies: Social Science Press; Australia
Libutti, P (2004) Digital Resources and Librarians: Association of College and Research Libraries; United States of America.
Thompson, J (2007) The First – Year Teachers Survival Guide: Wiley Publishing Inc, Indianapolis