WebQuests are an online tool for learning. According to Bernie Dodge, WebQuest expert, they are a classroom-based lesson in which most or all of the information that students explore and evaluate comes from the World Wide Web. WebQuests are a great way to promote 21st Century skills. They are also a great way to teach students how to use web-based resources effectively.
Resources for WebQuests:
Engage learners in motivating, standards-based activities that promote deep thinking and creative communications. When you combine quality Internet resources and effective technology tools with the power of Web 2.0 applications, learning comes alive for students. WebQuests are an inquiry-based approach to addressing standards that place emphasis on motivating assignments, authentic assessments, and developing independent readers and writers. In this workshop, you’ll learn to locate, evaluate, adapt, use, create, and co-produce your own WebQuests.
Wikis are a great tool for student projects. Teachers often think of them when they want students to do something collaborative, but, wikis are also a great tool for individual work; particularly for research papers.
Working in a wiki makes it easy for students gather background research. The commenting features are a great way for peers and teachers to provide constructive feedback and suggest additional resources in real-time, as the paper is evolving, instead of waiting until the end of an assignment to offer feedback. Most wikis have automatic revisioning features, too, which save before and after versions each time a change is made to the wiki.
Wikis provide a way for students to incorporate different types of media into a research paper or project. Adding pictures, links, video and other media into a paper provides opportunities for students to express themselves in multiple ways tapping into their higher-level thinking connecting images, music, and video to the research and writing they are doing. Students today live in a multimedia world and research papers in wiki format are a way for them to connect the world they live in outside of school with the assignments they need to complete to get through school, and, hopefully, a way of engaging them in the work they are doing in the classroom.
Research paper wikis are easy and enjoyable. Furthermore, the dull and tedious task of conveying factual information is brought to life in a wiki by adding the interactivity of the internet to research.
Michael Wesch, Cultural Anthropologist and Associate Professor at Kansas State University, often discusses the importance of moving from what he describes as “Knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able.”
We are sharing information and knowledge all of the time – shouldn’t we be teaching (letting) students do the same? Literacies in today’s world include connecting, organizing, sharing, collaborating. It is important to understand how to use the tools and software available to us, but we also need to recognize how the tools are using (and changing) us.
Media are not just tools, not just a means of communication; media is shaping many aspects of our lives and how we connect with one another. As Media changes, our relationships change, and, our culture changes. Students today need to have different literacies than they did in the past; skills on how to find content, sort it, organize it, and criticize it. They need to be taught how to be critical thinkers!
Web 2.0 is linking people not just information. We are using and sharing information in new ways:
- User-generated content
- User-generated filtering
- User-generated organization
- User-generated distribution
- User-generated ratings
This is not happening in many schools. We can see this in the spaces we design:
- What the walls say (classroom spaces)
- To learn is to acquire information
- Information is scarce
- Trust authority for good information
- Authorized information is beyond discussion
- Obey the authority
- Follow along
The web can enable individuals to find their voice and contribute in meaningful ways. We are seeing this all the time with citizen journalists and citizen media, which is often unleashed when regular media collapses.
Things to think about in a web-enabled world:
As people, we search for meaning and significance. If we can unlock the creativity in our students, we can help them become meaning makers. Isn’t that what education is really about?
Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) allow learners to direct their own learning and educational goals. Taking advantage of Web 2.0 technologies, PLEs allow learners to be active co-creators of knowledge.
The main idea behind a PLE is that learning is continual and the goal is to provide tools to support that learning. It also recognizes the role of individuals in organizing their own learning. The pedagogy behind the PLE is that it offers a portal to the world, through which learners can explore and create, according to their own interests and directions, interacting at all times with their friends and community.
What About my PLN (Personal Learning Network)? Why Networks?
It is the organization of the network that supports learning, and that if the network is designed appropriately, it will organize itself – just as we see happening in Web 2.0 communities – in order to best support learning. Thus, when we talk about ‘learning networks’ we are talking about networks in two distinct ways:
- the use of networks to support learning, and
- networks that learn.
Don’t forget about Communities: Share, Share, That’s Fair!
Learning occurs in communities where the practice of learning is the participation in the community. A learning activity is, in essence, a conversation undertaken between the learner and other members of the community. This conversation, in the Web 2.0 era, consists not only of words but of images, video, multimedia and more. This conversation forms a rich tapestry of resources, dynamic and interconnected, created not only by experts, but by all members of the community, including learners.
Learning happens when students collaborate, communicate and cooperate and it is about creating an environment that enables those activities. Social Software can transform learning into a dynamic experience. learners become contributors, not passive recipients of information. Whether participating in a blog site, collaborating on a wiki assignment, or commenting on a podcast, users are actively engaged in content creation, community cultivation, and discussion moderation.
Resources: “Emerging tools for Learning Report” produced by BECTA in 2007.
Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World is a report on the impact on higher education of students’ widespread use of Web 2.0 technologies. The report was published in March 2009 by the Committee of Inquiry into the Changing Learner Experience.
The report concluded that today’s learners exist in a digital age which implies access to, and use of, a range of Social Web tools and software that provide gateways to a multiplicity of interactive resources for information, entertainment and, not least, communication.
Key findings of the report included:
- The digital divide, the division between the digital ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’, has not been entirely overcome and persists in several dimensions: in access to, and engagement with, technology; the capability of the technology; and in individual competence.
- Use of Web 2.0 technologies is nevertheless high and pervasive across all age groups from 11 to 15 upwards.
- Using Web 2.0 technologies leads to development of a new sense of communities of interest and networks, and also of a clear notion of boundaries in web space – for example personal space (messages), group space (social networking sites such as Facebook) and publishing space (blogs and social media sites such as YouTube).
- There is an area within the boundaries of the so-called group space that could be developed to support learning and teaching.
- The processes of engaging with Web 2.0 technologies develop a skill set that matches both to views on 21st century learning skills and to those on 21st-century employability skills – communication, collaboration, creativity, leadership and technology proficiency.
- Information literacies, including searching, retrieving, critically evaluating information from a range of appropriate sources and also attributing it – represent a significant and growing deficit area.
Read the entire report (including recommendations) online: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/publications/heweb20rptv1.pdf.