Thursday, August 6, 2009

Web Quests

March (2004) describes a Web Quest as a scaffold learning structure that uses links to essential resources on the World Wide Web. It includes an authentic task to motivate students' investigation of an open-ended question, development of individual expertise, and participation in a group process that transforms newly acquired information into a more sophisticated understanding. March's definition correlates exactly with Kearsey's and Shndiderman's Engagement Theory who imply that learning activities occur in a group context, are project based and have an authentic focus.
Dodge, (2007) claims tens of thousands of teachers have embraced Web Quests as a way to make good use of the Internet while engaging their students in the kinds of thinking that the 21st century requires. The fundamental idea of the Engagement Theory framework is that students must be meaningfully engaged in learning activities through interaction with others and worth while tasks linked to technology based learning and teaching.

The first web quest depicted in this section is Antarctica Ice to Water Australia. It provided background information regarding Australia's drought and the possible suggested solutions. The task was clearly published. It consisted of a specific question "should Australia harvest ice bergs from Antarctica to replenish the flow in the Murray river". The web quest then provides the information of how this question is going to be answered and the goals to be achieved. The topic is very well researched, the developer has a comprehensive understanding regarding this topic. The activities were specific and I liked how it provided the links for students to visit to find out the information on Antarctica. It takes the students directly to the information they need to answer the question. The collaboration of this activity saves time, keeps the students motivated and at the conclusion they have the most eight important issues related to Antarctica. Like any environmental issue there are multiple opinions and perspectives. It is a great idea for each group to assume the role of an environmentalist, farmer, hydrologist engineer etc. This highlights the different concerns related to the community. This web quest is informative, interactive, motivating, inspiring and educating. The task of developing such a web quest is time consuming but once complete it can be utilised each year and shared among colleagues. It could contain assessment tasks across a range of key learning areas with in a unit of work.

The Freedom Fighter or Terrorist web quest engages you from the start with the video links. The focus question is clearly stated at the beginning; "What is terrorism? Is there such a thing as a just cause?" Again Tom March provided specific links to the information, if students were left to google in general a lot of time would be taken up actually navigation your way to the specific information. The students have a common understanding of what terrorism is they then look at specific examples and apply the definitions to the real world. The focus question is complex and collaborative learning allows different groups of students to be involved in solving a complex question. This web quest in comparison to Anarctica Ice to water Australia has less visual cues, it contain much more text. I presume it was designed for an upper high school class. The personal reflection section is a thought provoking way to conclude the quest. The students can write about the big idea, the truth and the emotion. Islam Remembers September 11 contains powerful,inspiring, sickening images. The war continues and terrorism continues.

The specific elements of a web quest provide for a learner; creativity, high order thinking and natural curiosity which contribute to motivation to learn. Intrinsic motivation is facilitated on tasks that learners perceive as interesting and personally relevant and meaningful, appropriate in complexity and difficulty to the learners abilities(McInerney & McInernrey, 2006). Teacher's can encourage and support learners' natural curiosity and motivation to learn by attending to individual differences. This delivery technology has tremendous implications for the class room, once the initial out lay of time and research is spent developing the web quest it can be a valuable resource to utilise repeatedly, changes can be made for different year groups and additions can be included for the gifted and talented students. If each teacher developed one web quest and posted it on a nation wide blog then we could have a wealth of resources to share.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tash
    Web quests do take a while to set up however like you I think the rewards are well worth it. Because students do generally take on authentic roles in web quests there is that true engagement with learning and I think students will stay on task without teacher guidance. It would be fantastic if there was a web quest bank that could be accessed by all teachers.