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Posts Tagged ‘ECI834’

The best WebQuests inspire students to see richer thematic relationships, to contribute to the real world of learning, and to reflect on their own metacognitive processes.” (Tom March, “The Learning Power of Webquests”, 2004)

Webquests essentially provide student directed, real life scenarios where students inquire, engage themselves and apply higher, critical thinking skills that are applied to authentic problems. Students are expected to transform their research into a socially constructed end product that warrants feedback and further transformations of knowledge from a wider audience. Students develop key technological skills that aid students in feeling their ideas and thoughts are valued. The best part of these quests is that they can lift restrictions on when and where students need to learn. Learning should be ongoing and intrinsically motivated and doesn’t have to take place in a designated room at a designated time to make the learning real.

Dan Pink’s take on Motivation:

Creating Webquests in a Chemistry class of 32 students will be a bit of a challenge for me as most of my curriculum is heavily theory based with an expectation to incorporate at least 20 hours of practical (lab) work intermixed within each unit. Longer webquests require students to have  strong working skill sets which incorporates, prerequisite knowledge, strong work ethic, thinking and organizational skills. With the blend of students that I get in my classes every semester, I am curious as to how I could use Webquests effectively to tap into the variety of multiple intelligences of my students but then again, these Webquests might bring out creativity in some students that struggle with scientific theory.

As far as applicability of Webquests which are essentially subsets of Problem Based Learning, my School Board’s new initiative is to incorporate “Structural Innovation” (problem based learning) into our teaching strategies. The only problem with this is that outcomes need to be addressed clearly and requires a bit of a paradigm shift in order for real learning to take place as the curriculum should serve as a guide rather than gospel.

Both problem based learning and Webquests are deeply entrenched in (Social) Constructivist learning theories presented by Dewey, Piaget and Vygotsky. The central idea behind these theories is that human learning is constructed and that learners build new knowledge upon the foundation of previous learning. http://www.sedl.org/pubs/sedletter/v09n03/practice.html where each new conception of the world is mediated by prior-constructed realities that we take for granted. http://carbon.cudenver.edu/~mryder/savage.html#def_constructivism.

As far as the amount of time and guidance that is needed for each of my 32 students presents a bit of a challenge as I need to be well versed in interdisciplinary knowledge and I need daily access to technology in a school of 1400 students.

The outline of a structured Webquest could include: an introduction, separate tasks to intice the learner into project, a variety of informational sources, a description of the process (clear steps to follow), guidance on how to organize information and a conclusion which brings closure and summary of what they learned. (Dodge).

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Thoughts About Technology and Teaching

What a great era to be teaching in. On one hand we have an all access pass to any and all information we could ever want, we can use word processing tools as well as Web2.0 tools to facilitate our daily teachings which empower us to cater to multiple intelligences within our classrooms. Our primary objective needs to be to teach kids life skills to learn for themselves. Lifelong learning has been made easier as we have the opportunity to access and to contribute to the growing amount of knowledge online via collaboration and communication in our personal learning networks and as a collective consciousness as seen with Wikipedia for example.

As educators, I feel it is our responsibility to stay current with the changing landscapes in technological practices. Not only does it make our jobs easier and allows us to present curricular material in a creative, up-to-date manner but it also provides a connection between what students are using and what they require in today’s society in order to become successful.

The need for educators to relinquish some control in the classroom is a must. All too often we race to complete curricular objectives and ignore what education should be about and that is to teach students how to learn and to problem solve issues that we face in society today. The transformation from teacher driven classrooms into student centered, activity based (problem solving) activities parallels a real life outlook on learning and teaches our students important social, independent and vocational skills while maintaining a degree of consistency with today’s exponential technological growth. We shouldn’t fear the unknown instead we should create and incorporate knowledge that will ultimately allow us to overcome the challenges of the unknown.

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