Saturday, April 19, 2008

(real) Webquests

Tom March and Bernie Dodge have very specific requirements for webquests. Tom summarizes it as:

"A WebQuest is a scaffolded learning structure that uses links to essential resources on the World Wide Web and an authentic task to motivate students’ investigation of a central, open-ended question, development of individual expertise and participation in a final group process that attempts to transform newly acquired information into a more sophisticated understanding. The best WebQuests do this in a way that inspires students to see richer thematic relationships, facilitate a contribution to the real world of learning and reflect on their own metacognitive processes." from here.

Tom and Bernie separate "real" webquests from other web based activities by insisting that scaffolding and knowledge transformation occur. This is all well and good, but development of webquests to meet such requirements is daunting. Tom later states:

"’s taken the Web and related communications technologies to chip away at the Berlin Wall of traditional education to make the above strategies not just good ideas, but essential."

He then goes on to jab at what must be horrible teachers that still incorporate "traditional education" into classrooms. We know here that Tom is a technoelitist. I believe most teachers now use an inquiry approach to teaching, especially science teachers. We develop and deploy differentiated inquiry instruction without the use of technology. Teachers aren't programmers, and they are not going to spend days developing the wonderful webquests Tom expects them to. Teachers who do use technology in the classroom to do lessons that make brochures or plan a vacation should be commended on their efforts and not ridiculed as being "traditionalist". This is a starting point for teachers. Teachers need to develop technology skills just as students do. Through later refinement and risk-taking the teacher may later develop more constructivist methods in their use of technology. Yes, Tom, many of us teachers are not technoconstructivists, but many of us are technotraditionalists working hard to use technology to teach better.

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