It can be argued that the greatest technological advance of man in the past 50 years is the development of the internet and technology. The internet is a global computer network where it allows people from all over the world to share information and communicate via the World Wide Web through a computer. It allows users to quickly and efficiently share documents, videos, interact with one another, learn from each other and even play games with other people despite the physical distance from each other. Since the rise of the internet, it has dramatically shaped education and how students learn and gain information.
Although there is a wealth of information online, there is also a large number of websites that has content that is not conductive to learning for students and this content may be unsuitable or irrelevant to what they students are learning. When students are trying to research or learn about one specific theme such as ‘Tourism in Antarctica’, wouldn’t it be easier and better for learning if all the best websites were all placed in a single location wherein the students can navigate through the content and become constructors of their own knowledge? This is possible in classrooms today through using ICT as a cognitive tool such as webquests.
You may wonder what is a webquest and how can it be used in the classroom? A webquest in an online inquiry project that enables students to use the internet to search for their information and builds on the students knowledge. A webquest is not limited to one website but has links to a number of websites and activities for the students to read through and complete and thus builds to the students learning. Webquests usually begins with a problem that the students have to solve about a particular issue and continues with a number of tasks that the students have to complete to gain the information necessary to solve the problem. The webquest is then concluded with a ‘real life’ task that takes the knowledge gathered and it is used in a real life situation. Furthermore, webquests are usually done in groups, where each person in the group takes on a role, such as a specific type of researcher, and the students have to work together as a collaborative and cooperative group and each member is valued for the knowledge that they have accumulated and shared with his or her peers.
The image below shows the pages that would be found in a typical webquest:
The students that are coming through the classrooms today are vastly different to previous generations because these students have grown up with technology around them, otherwise known as ‘digital natives’. This means that students are familiar with technology and learn from navigating through it and building their own knowledge. Furthermore, research has shown that students learn best through social constructivism where the teacher is a guide and students build from what they know and learn from research based approaches over traditional ways of learning such as route learning. By understanding this pedagogy, it becomes easy to see that webquests are beneficial ways for students to learn and is definitely a way that I will be teaching my class in the future. The following are reasons why i believe that webquests are advantageous to be used in the classroom and why ICT should be used as a cognitive tool:
- Webquests are actually easy to make and use. Before taking the class: ED4134 INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY FOR TEACHING AND LEARNING I have never used or made a webquest before, but there are a number of websites where a person can easily make a webquest for students to use such as wiki spaces or zunal.com. You can make a webquest about ANYTHING and it can be used in every key learning area, from math to HSIE to even drama and the arts!
- Webquests have a clear purpose and objective – there is a problem for students to solve and tasks for students to complete and when the students have competed the task, they have a fulfilled the objectives it has set out to achieve.
- It harness the power of the world wide web – through a webquest, a student can access the best websites to help the students complete the learning objectives without having to shift through unnecessary or irrelevant websites and information. It also keeps students on task and focused on understanding the information instead of searching for hours through the internet for it.
- It is student centred
- it allows for group quest and collaborative tasks – this means that students can work in small groups with specific roles and learn from one another
- it can extend students thinking so that the students go beyond just ‘knowing’ information onto higher levels of thinking such as synthesising and analysing ideas and allows for critical thinking.
- Through the use of webquests, students become more comtetent users of technology and computers
- Webquests have the ability to meets the variety of different learning styles and needs in the classrooms as it allows students to use resources that match their needs.
Dodge, b. (2007). What is a webquest? Taken from http://webquest.org/index.php accessed 18 May 2011.
image taken from: medt3401.blogspot.com