Some people would call me lazy, I prefer the term efficient myself. Here I am, having to write a blog piece about something that is both technological and pedagogical, and my teacher has also asked me and my classmates to design a WebQuest. Genius! I will do the research I need to get going on my WebQuest project and use that information to write my weekly blog about the pedagogical applications of ICT (Information and Communication Technology). As long as I am concerned, that is efficiency at its finest!
In order to get started, I think it is important to define what WebQuests are. They were designed by Bernie Dodge, a professor at San Diego State University in the mid 1990s and have been used in different fields ever since. In short, WebQuests are wrapped around a doable and interesting task that requires higher level thinking and that makes good use of the web. An ideal WebQuest will have learners go on different sites so that they can find the information they need. Learners will then need to process the information they gathered in order to understand it and then be able to present it to their peers.
WebQuests can cover any type of subjects. The site WebQuest.org gives examples of WebQuests, templates and WebQuest categories that teachers can use in order to design their very own. The examples cover a wide variety of topics and cover many different fields (history, biology and geography). Other sites provide examples of WebQuests while others give tools so that teachers can use in order to build their own webquests. I would argue that a good way to get started would be to start with an existing WebQuest, adapt it to your needs and then present it to the teacher. A lot of WebQuest authors think that way since they state that their WebQuests are available for others to use as long as they mention original authorship.
As long as I am concerned, WebQuests offer great possibilities and have many advantages. Since WebQuests are often group projects, they help students organize and share their work. Students learn about a subject, but they also learn to interact and work with others. Since my kids love their computers and everything that they can find on the web, giving them the opportunity to do just that in a class project is a sure way to get them interested. To me, the greatest advantage of a WebQuest is the fact that it blends many areas of knowledge. In an English class context, it blends the knowledge and learning of English with the use of ICT. If I take the WebQuest I am currently designing, I can add the subjects of science (mainly physics) and philosphy to that mix. By studying one topic (English), the learners end up covering many others.
WebQuests have numerous advantages and I am looking forward to trying them out with my future students. They also present an interesting chalenge : make sure that the students get to analyze, synthesize, solve problems, create something new and judge a situation. Coming up with an activity that does all that is a problem I look forward to solve.