WebQuests were developed in 1995 by Bernie Dodge and Tom March as a way to engage students in Internet research. Since then, teachers across the nation have used these guided tours through the web to introduce both research strategies and proper use of the Internet to their students.
Regarding WebQuests Maureen Yoder states, “Directly relevant to the curriculum and interesting and motivating to both teachers and students, they add spice to a lesson and direct a more responsible use of the Internet” (1999)
Students are given a set of Internet sites to visit to collect information about a specific topic related to the class curriculum. The teacher gives the class the process to follow and the desired result. Once they have collected the necessary information, students evaluate their findings and report to the teacher. As a conclusion, the class reviews the findings and discusses the results.
Students gain a more “real world” perspective of the core topic and can evaluate “conflicting views and… inaccurate information” (Yoder, 1999). In an effort to achieve higher level thinking on a subject, WebQuests can allow students to:
Bring contemporary world problems into the classroom
Create a product
Deal with life’s realities
Spark the imagination
Yoder, M. (1999). The Student WebQuest [ Electronic Version ]. Learning and Leading With Technology, 7-9, 52-53.
I feel that WebQuests are very useful in the Elementary classroom and I am excited to try them out as a teacher. This article got me thinking about all of the reasons why WebQuests are helpful for students.
First, it gets them actively involved in the topic. Using technology in a way that engages students in the subject is more compelling and exciting than listening to lecture!
Secondly, students can experience activities and discussions that could not be found inside the classroom. Using WebQuests opens up the possibilities to both teachers and students for more meaningful learning. For example, instead of reading in a textbook about ancient art, the students can get up-close and in-depth through the Louvre website!
Students are exposed to different and differing opinions. By evaluating these viewpoints, students get a more detailed and thoughtful result.
In conclusion of the article Yoder states, “WebQuests can invigorate and enliven a class. The Internet is becoming an increasingly important and useful resource, and teachers can harness its potential rather than be overwhelmed and discouraged by its enormous size. “ (1999)
The Topic- Make sure that students are clear about the subject covered and how it relates to the current curriculum
The Task- Explain to students what result is expected. Are they charged with objective reporting, persuasion, making judgements, etc.?
The Process- Give the students guidelines to follow and the steps they should use to complete the activity.
The Resources- Allow students to visit only the sites previously determined. These sites may be chosen by the student, the teacher, or both. Make sure to check out the sites before the students to gage their appropriateness to both the subject covered and the age of the students.
The Evaluation- Most often the use of a rubric is the best way to assess a WebQuest as each student will gather differing information.
Starr, L. (2000, updated 2009, January 8). Creating A WebQuest: I’s Easier Than You Think. Education World. Retrieved December 3, 2009, from http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech/tech011.shtml
This article gave me many resources to use when creating a WebQuest. I will use the resources sited within the article to create thoughtful and creative WebQuests for my students. I found the following aspects of the article to be of particular interest:
WebQuests are meant to capture the imagination and free-thinking spirit of students, so it’s important to be creative with WebQuests. While the topic must tie into current curriculum, they are intended to excite the students. Make them fun and meaningful in a real world way!
WebQuests allow the students to interact not only in the classroom, but with students and educators across the globe. Says Kenton Letkeman, resource-based learning consultant, “Communication, group work, problem solving, and critical and creative thinking skills are becoming far more important in today’s world”. The use of WebQuests allows students to cultivate these skills.
WebQuests give students an opportunity to access relevant information and promote higher level thinking while promoting responsible use of the Internet.
It is impossible to remove inappropriate content on the web, but there are ways to protect students in the classroom.
Acceptable use policies- Create a contract outlining the responsibilities each student and staff member must follow when accessing the web. There must be specific consequences for not following the guidelines. The use of digital media is a necessity in today’s schools, therefore there must be a code of conduct required and consequences which do not take away the use of such media.
Teachers must be aware of the online content in the classroom. It is not acceptable to be seated at a desk while students are online, teachers must patrol students and evaluate what content students are accessing. When students know that the teacher is aware, they are less likely to attempt to access inappropriate content.
Filtering- Most schools use filtering software which will block access to sites known to be inappropriate. Care must be taken, however, with such software as they often block acceptable and useful websites!
This is a very serious situation in which students use the internet to threaten or harm another student. There must be a strict “zero-tolerance” policy in place against cyberbullying which details specific consequences for such acts. More information can be obtained at www.cyberbully.org
Children do not always know with whom they are in contact on the web, which makes the Internet attractive to predators. Internet filters can eliminate this to an extent, but children need to be aware of the dangers and know that they should talk to a trusted adult if they feel uncomfortable about online activity.
Teachers must be knowledgeable about the Internet so that they may focus attention on the task at hand. Children who are not given direction are most likely to be the ones who get into trouble online. Make sure there is no time to mindlessly search the Internet.
Poole, B. (2009, April 3). Risks Involved In Integrating the Internet Into the K-12 Curriculum. Education World. Retrieved December 3, 2009, from http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/columnists/poole/poole018.shtml.
While we live in a world connected by the internet and the technology of the web is necessary for meaningful learning, we must be proactive in protecting our children from the risks involved. As Poole stated in the article, “Teachers are charged with maintaining a safe environment in their classroom.” (2009). This is not only true in the physical classroom, but also in the learning space of the Internet. The goal of the teacher is to maintain an environment that is both safe and useful by making use of the tools available.
Start a dialogue with students about their responsibilities while online. State the consequences for misuse of the internet and stay consistent with the consequences. Students will use the Internet for the rest of their lives and it is important to build a foundation of responsibility while online.
Make students feel comfortable in talking to you if they feel threatened or are being harmed in any way online. Talk to students about how to recognize cyber threats and what to do if they are being harmed.
Create an environment where learning is fun and engaging and where there is no need for inappropriate use of the Internet. Prepare interesting web-based lessons that hold the attention of students.
Our world is getting “smaller” as we use the web and other technology to link us to our global community. Education is no longer limited to the confines of a classroom or a traditional library. We as teachers have the challenge of creating learners who can adapt to their growing and changing community and are prepared to enter a global society. The use of WebQuests in the classroom opens up a number of opportunities for students. They are able to explore new cultures and observe different viewpoints. They can experience activities that could never happen inside a classroom. But in a larger sense, WebQuests allow students to hone their online skills and to become responsible citizens of the online community. WebQuests are a valuable tool in today’s educational process which can create a sense of adventure and a thirst for knowledge while