You will be working in pairs at one computer to complete the online parts of the WebQuest. Two pairs will form a group of four students at certain times during the WebQuest to complete offline activities, which involve sharing, discussing, and synthesizing your findings from the web. Finally, we will come together as a full class at the end of the WebQuest.
Step I: Discovering WebQuests
1. Using the links provided below, write answers on your worksheet to the following questions. Use your own words. Each pair in the group of four will work with the links for either Pair 1 or Pair 2. The links for each pair are different and provide different information. Each pair should answer as many of the questions below as you can in the time limit you are given. When time is up, you will have a chance to get together with the other pair in your group to fill in any of the missing gaps and compare your answers.
- What is a WebQuest? How would you define it to someone who was unfamiliar with this model?
- What two types of WebQuests are generally referred to and how are they different? What different WebQuest designs are there?
- What are the important design features of a WebQuest and what is the rationale for including these features?
- What is meant by "scaffolding" in a WebQuest? Give a concrete example.
- What are the benefits of inquiry-based learning, collaborative learning, and developing learners' higher-order thinking skills?
- How would you know a good WebQuest if you saw one?
- In what ways are WebQuests similar and different from traditional textbook-based activities?
- Why were they thought up in the first place?
- What is meant by the "constructivist approach"? Think back to the article you read for today: what is the socio-constructivist approach?
- What is the usefulness of WebQuests for FL teaching/learning? Why would you use WebQuests in class?
Group 1 Links
- WebQuests (video)
- Why WebQuests?
- The Building Blocks of a WebQuest
- What topics lend themselves to WebQuests?
- Types of WebQuests
Group 2 Links
- What is a WebQuest?
- The Three R's of WebQuests
- What is Inquiry-based Learning?
- Benefits of Collaborative Learning
- Scaffolding WebQuests
2. When time is up, meet with the other pair in your group of four to discuss and compare your answers and fill in any gaps.
Step II: Evaluating WebQuests
1. Now that you have considered what WebQuests are, in this step you are going to examine some existing WebQuests for foreign/second language learning. Creating WebQuests from scratch can be time consuming, so it benefits you to search for existing WebQuests in your TL to see what's already been done and is available. For this activity, since your group members may represent different target languages, we'll be looking at WebQuests for learners of English as a foreign/second language. Your goal in this step is to answer the following questions:
- Which one of the three example WebQuests listed below is the best one? Why?
- Which one is the worst? Why?
- What do best and worst mean to you?
2. Each participant has a hard copy of the WebQuest Evaluation Worksheet. In your groups of four, you should assign each person one of the following roles:
- The Efficiency Expert: You value time a great deal. You believe that too much time is wasted in today's classrooms on unfocused activity and learners not knowing what they should be doing at a given moment. To you, a good WebQuest is one that delivers the most learning bang for the buck. If it's a short, unambitious activity that teaches a small thing well, then you like it. If it's a longterm activity, it had better deliver a deep understanding of the topic it covers, in your view.
- The Affiliator: To you, the best learning activities are those in which students learn to work together. WebQuests that force collaboration and create a need for discussion and consensus are the best in your view. If a WebQuest could be done by a student working alone, it leaves you cold.
- The Altitudinist: Higher level thinking is everything to you. There's too much emphasis on factual recall in schools today. The only justification for bringing technology into schools is if it opens up the possibility that students will have to analyze information, synthesize multiple perspectives, and take a stance on the merits of something. You also value sites that allow for some creative expression on the part of the learner.
- The Technophile: You love the internet! To you, the best WebQuest is one that makes the best use of the technology of the Web. If a WebQuest has attractive colors and lots of links to interesting sites, you love it. If it makes minimal use of the Web, you'd rather use a worksheet.
3. You'll examine three of the four sites below and individually use the table on the WebQuest worksheet to jot down some notes of your opinions from the perspective of your role. Two WebQuests focus on English as a Second Language and the other two on Spanish and French as a Foreign Language. You'll need to examine the three site fairly quickly. Don't spend more than 5 minutes on any one site.
4. When everyone in the group has seen all the sites, it's time to get together to answer the questions. One way to proceed is to go around and ask each team member for the best and worst from their assigned perspective. Pay close attention to all of the perspectives, even if you think you might disagree with them.
5. There will probably not be complete consensus, so the next step is to work out a consensus through discussion and compromise. Try to combine your perspectives and see if you can agree on what's best for the learner and for learning a foreign language. DO NOT JUST VOTE AND DECLARE A WINNER. Instead, begin to put aside your individual perspective and come to an agreement that takes into account all four perspectives.
6. One person in each group should record the group's thoughts.
7. When time is over, be prepared to report your results to the whole class.
Step III: Final Recommendations
Now comes the moment of truth, the final step. Can you, could you, would you, justify, at least in part, the expense of your school's new computer lab knowing what you know now about WebQuests and their potential as a learning tool for foreign language learners?
Discuss the answer to this question with the four members of your group and briefly outline some of the talking points that you can use with your principal to demonstrate the usefulness (or lack of usefulness) of WebQuests for FL teaching and learning. Be ready to report your talking points to the rest of the class.