Saturday, July 24, 2010

Week 5: Project-based Learning with WebQuest

“I wish to be one of your students”

I begin my post with this quotation to assert how lucky I am with my wonderful students. They not only make me feel proud of their achievements using the PBL, but also they convey their attitudes and experiences to other students to the degree that they wish to be like them.

In fact, project -based learning is considered a solution for many problems related to students. Many researchers (cited in Guo, 2007) point out that it engages them in the investigation of real life problems and develop their creativity, problem-solving and lifelong learning. Gaer (1998) also asserts that using such approach gives meaning to learning. This is what we search for. Finding meaning to learn is our ultimate GOAL. If students find such meaning, they will involve in their learning process not only to accomplish the required tasks in such projects, but also to find a relationship between their academic studies and the reality beyond classroom where experience plays a vital role.

I can never forget my students involving in the project I asked them to carry out. Many skills were developed either expected or not. They have learned how to surf the internet and use its resources effectively, how cite printed or electronic materials, how to use MS programs (e.g., Word, PowerPoint, Publisher) in a very good way, how to search for information in the library, how to search for information around them asking their teachers, parents and other members in their community and how to present their products. I’m so proud of them and they honestly deserved to win in the competition of INTEL on the Republic level.

When I read about WebQuest as a tool for using the project-based learning, I found it not different from what we have done in our project. It is designed to lead students through a web-based lesson that can range from one class period to one month in depth and duration. However, WebQuest is more than simply exploring information related to one’s content area on the internet (Woodard, 2008). According to March (2003), a true WebQuest requires more than students exploring the internet in relation to a class related topic. A WebQuest requires that students complete a thoughtful and thorough exploration of internet-based content in order to increase their understanding of a topic. This exploration can be used on multiple instructional levels, either allowing for students to work collaboratively or individually.

Thus, the instructional purpose for the WebQuest was to “use learner’s time, to focus on using information rather than looking for it, and to support learners’ thinking at the levels of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation” (Dodge, 1997).

This means that we should select more challenging and authentic tasks that require students explore more information using higher order skills like analyzing, synthesizing and creating.

Woodard (2008) in his article “WebQuest in the English Classroom”: suggested a very valuable list of tips for teachers using this tool in their classrooms. I wanted to share it with you:
  1. When designing your WebQuest, make sure to keep the six essential elements of the WebQuest in mind: 1) Introduction, 2) Task, 3) Information sources, 4) Process, 5) Guidance, and 6) Conclusion. By keeping these six ideas in mind, you will be able to create a more effective WebQuest than if you were to put together a worksheet with a list of website and questions. The true WebQuest allows for students to gain a deeper understanding of a topic by a thorough exploration and the opportunity to make conclusions!
  2. Make sure to select your resources carefully on the internet. It is easy to slip up and give your students an unreliable website to look at. In other words, be familiar with good education resources that are available on the internet.
  3. The best WebQuests that I have looked at gave students choice. When Students are given choice in the assignments you give them, they will be more highly motivated and engaged in the assignment.
  4. Give students your grading rubric at the beginning of the WebQuest, so that they know how they will be assessed on the assignment. Your expectations for you students should always be clear.
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