Authentic Learning via the WebQuest
The image of a boy holding a gun to his head may horrify us, but do we choose reality? Should schools deal with such topics? The Last Spin is a short story written by Evan Hunter. The story focuses on changing attitudes, having control, and teenage gangs. The author believes that learning to know your enemy provides many powerful lessons about war and peace and the struggle for territorial power. The story of The Last Spin may spin many of us to our senses about the need for control.
Who is in Control?
In many schools around the world, a good teacher is someone who controls the students and manages discipline in class. The administration does not want to deal with student problems. However, teachers are losing control when it comes managing students in the classroom. Teachers may be competing with technology when it comes to getting students’ attention. Apparently many students are finding school boring. The only way they can stay awake in the classroom is by accessing the Internet, Facebook, video games, and using electronic gadgets. Therefore, many teachers view computers, cell phones, and the Internet as competition.
Students of all ages are constantly using the Internet on their cell phones and other mobile devices in and out of the classroom. They seem to be very competent with texting their friends, playing games, and surfing the Internet. Teachers fear that students are more competent with technology than they are. The idea of integrating electronic devices and the Internet into the classroom scares teachers because it means less control. Are teachers going to lose control to social media or will they join their students in their own territory?
Twitter in a History Class
Los Angeles history teacher Enrique Legaspi got his shy students to participate and learn history. He used Twitter to engage his students.
Daring to Use Technology
I wonder how many teachers would feel comfortable using Twitter or Facebook in their classes. Kelly Walsh uses Facebook in her classes and suggests others do the same. She claims that it makes sense to use what students find fun and engaging in the classroom. Yet, there’s a MOOC in the making on Facebook. The University of Prince Edward Island must have heard my suggestion and is going to start a MOOC on Facebook.
One Step at a Time
If you are a teacher, who needs to feel in control and thinks students are ahead in how they use technology, you should try a WebQuest and go one step at a time. I created my first literature-based WebQuest in 2003 as a way to control how my high school students were using the Internet in the computer room. I wanted them to lead and control every step of the way. This may sound terrible, but the process helped me gain the confidence I now have to use Facebook, Twitter, and other web technologies in my face-to-face classes.
“A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the web. The model was developed by Bernie Dodge at San Diego State University in February, 1995 with early input from SDSU/Pacific Bell Fellow Tom March” (WebQuest resources). The WebQuest offers teachers a systematic way to engage students in project-based learning through a controlled use of the Internet. Teachers and parents involved in homeschooling or in the flipped classroom can learn how to create their own WebQuests and engage students. Find our more about WebQuests and how you can create yours on a course on WizIQ and in this webinar.
Parts of a WebQuest
A WebQuest is divided into 6 major parts (learn about each part):
Each part of the WebQuest has a specific role that helps students focus and learn because today’s students need constant challenges in order to focus. WebQuests are problem-based learning activities that engage students in learning. Students can participate in experiential (hands on) learning activities that promote social skills via teamwork, higher order critical thinking skills via inquiry and problem-based learning, and technological skills via the Internet and Microsoft applications. Students can now be motivated to become lifelong learners through the use of WebQuests.
My first WebQuest was based on The Giver by Lois Lowry. I have given many workshops both face-to-face and fully online on how to create and use WebQuests with students. You are invited to enroll in a self-paced (with ongoing feedback) course on how to create and use WebQuests on WizIQ.
My next WebQuest was based on a short story called The Last Spin by Evan Hunter. My English language students were very pleased with the WebQuest. They found reading in a foreign language engaging and easier to manage due to the tasks of the WebQuest. Doing a WebQuest engaged them in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The added value was that they could also work in teams, use higher order thinking skills, and use their creativity.
Gain Confidence and Learn Together
Teachers and students can gain trust by using technology one step at a time in the classroom. Parents, students and teachers should realize that the Internet has many functions. It is not only for entertainment and to access information. It is a powerful tool that can bring teachers and students together for instruction and learning. The WebQuest is one method that teachers can bring technology into the classroom for learning.