This is me-now, Josh Krikke on Blogger. I hope you enjoy my reflections.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Module 7: WebQuest

Based on my inquiry, I think that effective WebQuests have a diversified purpose. The effectiveness of WebQuest is that they can match a teacher’s style and strengths. Some WebQuests are designed for efficiency—to reduce wasted classroom time, others are made to promote collaboration and create discussion among students. WebQuests can also promote higher level thinking, like analysis and opinion forming, while other WebQuests are set up to use Web technology to its highest potential. From my readings, I have seen that a WebQuest is much like an online lesson plan in which students can be self-directed and inquiry based. Like any good lesson, an effective WebQuest ought to have an introduction, a statement of task, a step-by-step process to complete task, a way to evaluate learning of the task, and a conclusion.
I might use WebQuest in the classroom for an inquiry-based novel study. Each student would be given the same novel and they would use WebQuest as a novel study guide. The WebQuest could incorporate links to websites about the author of the novel, require the creation of an Inspiration Concept Map based on plot, characters, or literary devices in the novel. It could have links to a discussion board in which students must submit a personal response to the story. Other students could view one another’s responses and would be asked to reply to 2 or 3 of their peer’s opinions. Bonus activities could be included for students to go beyond the requirements of the WebQuest tasks, and students would be active learners in their discovery of the novel. The WebQuest could be supplemented with class discussions based on WebQuest tasks.
One area of concern with Web-based learning is the need to ensure Internet safety in the classroom. I am sure students are well aware of the content available on the Internet, for as I read on the Media Awareness Network website, “Forty-five per cent of students use the Internet for homework, and two out of ten kids and teens have their own personal Web sites.” The Internet can hold misleading or incorrect information and students need to be taught skills in information analysis and proper search methods. There is pornography available on the Internet which students need to ask themselves what pornography teaches about sex and relationships and they, in response, ought to ask what their actions should be. Chat rooms, blogs, instant messaging, and discussion boards are public domains and they pose a threat to student privacy. Students need to understand what personal identification is safe and what is unsafe to publicize on the World Wide Web. There are Internet sites that promote dangerous or illegal activities, like the online recipe for the drug: Crystal Meth, and students need to recognizethe danger of utilizing the Internet in deviant ways. The best thing I, as a future educator, can do is raise student awareness of the potential dangers of the Internet, and allow students to express their opinions about Internet safety and come to their own judgements about how to use the Internet safely. After all, the Internet is the greatest resource we have available in our homes, jobsites, and schools and ought to be used for its richness rather than its deceptiveness.