A WebQuest reflection

For my this blog post  I thought I would post a reflection on the WebQuest I created for the Tech assignment. Originally I was going to include a reflection as part of the assignment but space and word count prevented that. So I thought this would be the ideal place.

Why a WebQuest?

First developed by Dodge (1995) to take advantage of new developments in technology and to create a stimulating and collaborative forum for learners, WebQuests linked task based learning to the web.

Although I had little background information I could see that there seemed to be potential for my own learners. Specifically I wanted to use more authentic materials in the class and I thought this would be a good way. I could develop an overall task and ask learners to research via the web different parts of it. I was also interested in point made by Chao (2006) who discusses that the use of a WebQuest by teachers was a very different experience to their usual teaching activities, specifically in the area of reading. In the WebQuest material is read and then transformed into another form, rather than the standard class activity of reading to find answers to posed questions. This idea of understanding and then analysing the text and then doing something with it proved to be appealing to me.

I decided to to use a real life task, as class trip as my starting point and thought about my aims and objectives. I then had to do some research in what platform I would deliver the WebQuest. My initial investigations led me to Google Sites. There are templates for WebQuests available enabling professional looking online materials to be created. However, although I consider myself fairly tech savvy, it was actually quite user unfriendly. There was also only limited opportunity for multi modality.

 

Screenshot (79)

After a few attempts I decided against using Google and looked instead at creating the WebQuest in PowerPoint. Although it has it’s detractors (Clark, 2008; Penciner, 2013; Knight, 2015) when used as a purely presentation tool, which tend to be overlong, as a medium it is something that I personally enjoy using.

The decision made to use PowerPoint, I set about teaching myself how to create a webquest. This went beyond my previous experiences with the software. I had only made fairly straightforward presentations before, featuring a couple of slides. This required me to embed links to online sources as well as media files, text transcripts and audio files. I also needed to learn how to insert hyperlinks, homepage buttons and links to pages in a non-linear manner. A clip that I found useful, though really simple was the one below showing me how to use slide master which I had never used.

Once started it was fairly straight forward. The hardest part was keeping track of the slides and which should link to which. As this was an activity for two people it become more complex remembering which page had to link to which page. However, I persevered and ultimately ended up with my very own WebQuest, which you can view below.

Screenshot (80).png

So what did I learn?

Planning is the Key. Although I established my goals and objectives for the task, they continued to develop during the creation. I thought it was finished and then while writing the rationale, I thought of something else and tweaked it. Things that to be honest I really should have thought about when I started, how would learners be assessed? How would they know which button to press? Where were the answers to questions. So although I went the long way around it, it was definitely a learning curve and developing another one would be much easier after this first one.

Good points about the webquest

Although it didn’t seem it, it was actually fairly straightforward to make.

PowerPoint allows you to embed all manner of things, allowing for multi modality

It allows for collaborative learning

It looks professional and can run on pc’s, laptops and now iPads

Bad points about webquest

To be honest the only negative I can think of is that you really need to think of your content and the level of instruction that you are giving to learners. Part of the reason for using the WebQuest was to use authentic materials which are ungraded. This means however, that as suggested by Graves (2010), that tasks and instructions should themselves by carefully graded with tasks scaffolded in order to enable learners to progress.

Conclusion

This was a really enjoyable experience for me to create interactive materials for my learners. As mentioned it was a learning curve, but once I had mastered the necessary skills it was fairly straightforward to create the WebQuest. It has given me the confidence now to be able to incorporate and make these materials myself and I would advise anyone to give it a go, you may suprise yourself!

References

Clark, J. (2008). Powerpoint and Pedagogy: Maintaining Student Interest in University Lectures. College Teaching, Vol. 56 (1), 39-45

Chao, C. (2006). How WebQuests send technology to the background. In P. Hubbard, M. Levy, & (Eds), Teacher Education in CALL (pp. 220-234). n.p.: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Dodge, B. (1995). WebQuests: A technique for Internet-based learning. Distance Educator 1 (2), 10-13.

Graves, K. (2000). Designing language courses: a guide for teachers. London: Heinle & Heinle.

Knight, M. (2015). The Ubiquitousness of PowerPoint. Business Communication Quarterly Vol 78 (3), 271 – 272.

Penciner, R. (2013). Does PowerPoint enhance learning? Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine Vol 15 (3), 109 – 112.

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