Writings

Tom March has been writing about the interaction between the Web and education since 1995. The collection below should provide some “big picture” vision as well as practical details for the day-to-day educator. Please contact us if you’d like to re-produce any of these writings for in-service workshops.

For information specific to WebQuests, go to that page. In-person Support can bring these articles to life.

Intriguing ourselves to Death… – Published at ozline.com, January 22, 2008
As challenging as many in education would consider “engaging” students, this isn’t enough. The point is not to repeat the worn lament that kids use technology as a distraction. First off, we all do! Second, the challenge is not to avoid getting intrigued (which some see as the answer), but doing something with it. We need to change education from focusing on inconsequential tasks that push students to technologies as a means to find distraction, amusement and, yes, intrigue. We must help with the next step: to help students frame learning into experiences that “amount to something,” that “matter.” My thinking on how to do this involves CEQ·ALL, which begins with a foundation of intrinsic motivation and builds achievement through sincere effort to achieve “Quality,” ending with enthusiastic attitudes and creations that demonstrate the joy of learning.
Revisiting WebQuests in a Web 2 World – Published in Interactive Educational Multimedia, IEM, 2007, 15
The WebQuest was launched in 1995 to scaffold advanced cognition by integrating the “ill-structured” nature of the World Wide Web with a process that guides novices through decisions and experiences that characterize experts’ behaviors. Recently, the Web has morphed into Web 2.0 with its social networking sites, blogs, wikis and podcasts. Given this richness, revisiting WebQuests is in order. This paper reviews the critical attributes of true WebQuests and reviews recent research in thinking routines and intrinsic motivation to recommend new paths for WebQuests that could scaffold student use of Web 2.0 environments, enabling a shift toward authentic personal learning.
Why ClassPortals? – Published 2006
Students yearn for learning that is Real, Rich and Relevant. The artificial kinds of classroom activities that only ever happen in schools undermine a joy for learning which is always connected to the Real world of consequence. The limitation of time, space and consciousness create a pre-digested, segmented experience where “richness” serves as a distraction or nuisance. Finally, in a culture focused on demographically pegging each individual’s whims, a passive mass production approach guarantees irrelevance. A ClassPortal creates a purpose and shared mission that puts students and teachers together in a group endeavor that inherently promotes Real, Rich and Relevant learning.
The New WWW: Whatever, Whenever, Wherever – Published in ASCD’s Educational Leadership
A new world of personalized, device-delivered digital content and functionality hovers just over the broadband horizon. The New WWW – offering us whatever we want, whenever and wherever we want it – may seem like just an extension of our already-technology-enhanced contemporary life. In some ways, it is. But such a wireless stream of media gratification is actually a radical departure from typical human experience. And as tantalizing as this ready access to our hearts’ desires may be, it creates great challenges for our children. To counteract the New WWW’s potentially harmful impact on youth, educators must use technology to create learning experiences that are real, rich, and relevant.
The Learning Power of WebQuests – Published in ASCD’s Educational Leadership
A well-designed WebQuest combines research-supported theories with effective use of the Internet to promote dependable instructional practices.
What WebQuests Are (Really!)
This is an unabridged version of “The Learning Power” published in ASCD’s Educational Leadership. It’s on our BestWebQuests site.
Class Act Portals published in EQ from the Curriculum Corporaton
2005 marks the 10th anniversary of many people’s first experience of the World Wide Web. In that decade “WWW dot” has transformed the way we live, work and play. Yet research reveals that less than half of teachers who have Internet access in their classrooms use it for instructional purposes. Avoiding the Web hurts both students and teachers because its most valuable attribute for education is that it can make learning more Real, Rich, and Relevant. The purpose of this article is to raise a call to action for all teachers in all states and all systems throughout the world to make 2005 the year that we infuse a New 3Rs for all students.
What’s on the Web for Educators? printed in the CUE Newsletter, 1995
Viewing the Web as a whole or Web sites by the million is sure to overwhelm any dedicated educator. Try these seven ways to view the content of the Web as it relates to common learning applications.
Working the Web for Education, printed in the CUE Newsletter 1997
The theory and practice of integrating the Web for learning. This is the original article that discusses Zen in the Art of teaching with the Web and five activity formats for achieving learning goals with the Web.
Ten Stages of Working the Web for Education
Find yourself or your school on this continuum. This article can help you plan professional development sessions.

MultiMedia Schools

Discovering Your Topic
The Importance of Keeping Things in Context. Textbooks, encyclopedia, and other traditional sources are great for getting to the content of the courses you teach. Use the Web for that trickier bit of re-contextualizing the topic in the complex mesh that is the World (Wide Web).
Grow What You Know
Smart software should help you grow what you know, not get in your way. Try a Ready.. Fire! Aim… approach to curriculum design.
Wouldn’t You Rather Gather?
Skip Search Engines and Find Sites Faster. Because it’s a challenge, we often think we need to learn sophisticated, arcane, search strategies. Happily, the Web has matured enough that if you know where to go, you can frequently skip the search and harvest links others have already found for you.
Thinking Through Linking
Finding Education’s Name for the Web. Al Gore got us thinking about the Web and “The Information Super Highway.” This was helpful in mobilizing interest and resources, but the expression is more detour than road map for those involved in promoting the Web’s use in education.
Link Like You Mean It!
Selecting Web Sites to Support Intentional Learning Outcomes. Depending on the learning goal you have for a Web-based activity, you probably want to look for sites that support that approach. Learn about Info Rich, Emotive and Perturbing sites among others.
Are We There Yet?
Isn’t it silly to think driving a car would ensure a great family vacation? Isn’t it just as silly to think using a computer guarantees learning achievement? This parable compares technology integration to a family auto vacation.

WebQuests for  Learning

Why WebQuests?
Some background on the pedagogical reasons to try WebQuests. WebQuests have become the most popular approach for integrating the Web with classroom learning activities. Read about some educational theories that suggest this is a good idea.
The WebQuest Design Process
An elaboration of the process Tom March uses / teaches for creating WebQuests. Move through three main phases of inherent in developing a WebQuest. Each of the phases have been integrated into Web-and-Flow Interactive.
WebQuests 101
By sifting through a stack of WebQuests you should have a clear idea of not only what defines this particular type of Web-based learning activity, but also what aspects contribute to making a great WebQuest. Using an evaluation rubric can help highlight exemplary WebQuests.
The 3 R’s of WebQuests
To write WebQuests that engender a spirit of true learning and avoid “playing school,” apply a filter of “The New 3 R’s.” If a WebQuest-in-the-making isn’t Real, Rich, and Relevant, work hard to make sure that it is. This column offers a reflection on several WebQuests to see how they could be improved by accenting the 3 R’s.
“You Are Here”
It’s natural to feel a little lost amidst the maze of variables involved in using technology with students. All we can do is start where we are. This checklist for implementing Web-based activities might serve as a roadside kiosk to let you know “You are Here!”
Retooling Schooling
In an earlier age, it may have made sense to model schools after the productions lines transforming the business world. Reduced costs and greater efficiency seemed beneficial. But then again, is learning really a matter of bolting on new bits?

Previous Publications

“Reflections on a Drive-By Caning,” article submitted for the “My Turn” column, Newsweek Magazine, New York, NY.

“Using R.E.A.L. World technologies,” created and led this in-service to train teachers on Microsoft Word, PageMaker, and Persuasion, Poway High School, 1994

“The R.E.A.L. World Community Outreach Project,” presentation at the Computer Using Educators Conference, Palm Springs, CA, 1994

“Computer-Guided Writing,” Master’s thesis, 1993, SDSU

“The Writer’s Guide,” a guided-writing software program designed with Bernie J. Dodge, San Diego State University, 1992 – 93

“Computer-Guided Writing,” presentation at the Computer Using Educators Conference, Palm Springs, CA, 1993

“Teaching in the R.E.A.L. World” presentation at the Computer Using Educators Conference, Palm Springs, CA, 1993

“The Art of Teaching,” a multimedia-enhanced keynote speech presented at the Poway Unified School District’s “Mentor Dinner,” Rancho Bernardo Inn, 1993

“Class Acts with Simple Stacks,” presentation at the California League of Middle Schools, Monterey, CA, 1992

“Teaching in a Multimedia World,” presentation at the Computer Using Educators Conference, Palm Springs, CA, 1992

“Going Hyper,” designed and led this in-service training, Poway Unified School District, 1992

“Comp 2: A Rad Plan,” wrote a grant and chaired the committee that created a semester-long curriculum for 10th grade students, 1992

“The New American School,” presentation to the Poway Unified School Board, 1991

“Technically Speaking,” a monthly column in the Poway High School Principal’s Newsletter, 1990 – 91

“American Studies,” wrote a grant and chaired the committee that created an interdisciplinary handbook of primary source documents bridging U.S. History and American Literature for 11th grade students, 1989/90

“Teachers’ Pets,” poem published in the No Street Poet’s Voice, San Diego, CA, 1988

“His Boy Elroy,” a full-length motion picture screenplay, 1985

“Hey, Hey, We’re the Busboys,” concert preview, Phoenix New Times, 1983

“Donald Fagan: The Night Fly,” record review, Phoenix New Times, 1983

“Problematic Plasmatics,” reflection & record review, Madcity Music Guide, Madison, WI, 1981

“Sax Solo,” poem published in The Madison Review, Fall, 1980

 

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