WebQuests (ICT Integration)
Selecting a WebQuest Project
Writing a WebQuest is time-consuming and challenging, at least the first time. To make the most of your efforts and to maximize your chances for satisfaction and success, you should choose your WebQuest projects well. There are four filters that your idea must pass through.
The WebQuest should:
- be tied to curriculum assessment standards;
- replace a lesson that you're not totally satisfied with;
- make good use of the resources;
- require a degree of understanding that goes beyond mere comprehension.
There are great lesson ideas that will not pass through all of these filters. They might make for terrific classroom activities, but they won't make terrific WebQuests. Your task now is to juggle possible ideas until they meet all four criteria.
We'll discuss each of the four in more detail below.
1. Curriculum Assessment Standards
One temptation that ICT-using teachers often succumb to is to do things just because they are using ICT. We've all seen computer rooms filled with learners creating animations or comic strips or games or PowerPoint presentations that sang and danced and used every feature of the software. Once you get past the novelty, you might ask yourself what learners learn from such things. Sometimes the "glitz" has an learning outcome that is well thought out, other times not.
It is wise to spend your time creating lessons that can be tied to assessment standards that others recognize as important. Don't let the ICT tail wag the curricular dog.
2. Creative Discontent
Creating your first WebQuest is going to take a fair amount of time. (Your second will go more quickly and will be of higher quality, but let's get through the first one first.) Since that's so, you should choose as your project something that you've taught before and have never been fully satisfied with. The WebQuest you design should replace something and improve upon it rather than being yet another add-on in an already crowded year. When the going gets rough, you'll draw energy from the fact that your newborn WebQuest will make a part of your teaching more effective and enjoyable.
3. Using the Resources Well
Resources add a unique dimension to teaching. They bring in information that is relevant and to the point. They allow for colorful pictures, sound and animation. You should choose a project that could not be done solely with text book materials. Pick something that couldn't be done as well without new resources.
Not everything we teach requires deep understanding. Some things are best taught with direct instruction because there's no room for creativity and no need for synthesis, analysis or judgement. The eleven-times table, the definitions of parts of speech, input and output devices... these are not good material for WebQuests. Choose content and assessment standards that invite creativity, that have multiple layers, can have multiple interpretations or be seen from multiple perspectives. In short, pick material that requires students to transform information that they gather into something different.
How do you deal with these four filters? Set aside some quiet time to think about your teaching, the assessment standards, and the kinds of resources you've found so far. Then go through the process as outlined here. When you can't answer YES, either modify your idea or pick another one. When you can answer YES to all four questions, you're ready to go on to the next stage.
© Bernie Dodge, 1999. May be freely used by non-profit, public educational institutions
This article has been adapted for a South African offline audience.