Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Webby WebQuests

I'm back from a short hiatus to tell you about the most recent project I've been working on. I recently took a seminar on how to integrate technology into curriculum using WebQuests. As an aspiring Educational Technology Specialist, I decided that I should create a WebQuest for my final project that would be usable, so I recruited my husband and his 4th grade class to be my guinea pigs.

But, let me take a step back. If you are at all interested in using technology in the classroom, I suspect you have heard of WebQuests, but I believe there may be some misconceptions about what they really are. Some people think they are just eFieldTrips. Some people think they are just a way to collect Web resources for a project. But, strictly speaking, a WebQuest is more than that.

A WebQuest is a learning platform designed specifically to take advantage of Web resources in a more focused way for students. All WebQuests ideally follow the same format. They identify a realistic task that will help students achieve the learning goals desired. The process section is where the majority of the work is done and it has 3 main steps.
  1. Set the background knowledge needed to accomplish the task.
  2. Break up into groups which will be assigned different roles. It's beneficial if some of the roles conflict with each other. Each group will research the roles using the identified web resources and do an activity to check for understanding.
  3. Come back together as a class to complete the task. The WebQuest should end with a call to action.
A WebQuest should take advantage of all that the Web offers over printed, traditional material. So things like research data, archival primary sources, multimedia, communication & conversations, and publishing/participation are a big part of it. Now, obviously, some schools are going to block things like YouTube but hopefully if enough of us start including them in educational ways, this will change. For now, my advice is to make sure the content from these sources enhances the overall content but is not absolutely required to fulfill the real-world like task. Hence, the WebQuest should be "Webby" not "Schooly".

Are you ready to see mine now? You might have gotten an idea what it's about from the picture above.

Colonial Values and America Today

My goal was to make history relevant for students today through a culminating unit on American history and how colonial values have shaped America. So, feel free to peruse around this WebQuest, ask me questions, and try it out for yourself!

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