Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A quest for knowledge.

Jousting Knight.jpg
WebQuests. I previously had them in the same category as IWBs. I had heard of them, I knew that they existed, but I had never seen one. So, I set out on a quest of my own - my own crusade for the Grail (enlightenment).

March (2003) describes a WebQuest as "a scaffolded learning structure that uses links to essential resources on the World Wide Web and an authentic task to motivate students' investigations"

What I have found on my quest is that a true WebQuest is the best example that demonstrates the richness of learning with ICTs:
  • It is social constructivism in action - WebQuests contain scaffolded activities and collaborative group projects where students actively learn with each other.
  • It is student centred learning. March (1998) states that WebQuests bridge the gap between direct instruction and student centred learning.
  • Having an authentic task and using open ended questions require students to problem solve and demonstrate their thinking and how they have made meaning
  • It is Engagement Theory as students, in groups, take on roles to solve problems in an authentic motivating task which connects learners to the real world
  • WebQuests demonstrate the Learning Design Sequence (Oliver, 1999) in that web activities are provided for students to investigate and problem solve. The web resources provide articles, references, different points of view and interactivity - all the while having collaborative peer and teacher support.
How could I use this in my Early Childhood classroom? I went in search of a WebQuest that I could either use, or adapt to a specific topic. In my first year, my Year 2 students had to do a powerpoint presentation on animals before a visit to Australia Zoo. If they had done the WebQuest below (it would have been changed to be about animals at Australia Zoo), how much more meaningful could their learning have been?

There has been a break out at the zoo!

In setting up a WebQuest there are a number of criteria to make it far more than just a "treasure hunt" for information. There is a new set of the three R's to consider - is it real, rich and relevant. While setting them up will take time and effort (but then again, when doesn't good planning take up time?) if set up properly, what a great learning tool they will be!

My Quest goes on . . .

Kearsley, G. & Shneiderman, B. (1999) Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Downloaded 5 July 2009 from

March, T (1998) The WebQuest Design Process. Downloaded August, 2009 from

March, T (2003) What WebQuests Are (Really). Downloaded August, 2009 from

Oliver, R. Exploring strategies for online teaching and learning. Distance Education. (1999) Vol 20 (2) p 240- 254.

The Learning Design Construct. Downloaded July 2009 from

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