Time for Re-invention?
As #RemoteLearning #DistanceLearning and #COVIDEdu dominate education these days, I’ve been posting videos on WebQuests as a way to help. I will continue to do this. Happily, people have been getting in touch to share ideas and needs. Two main responses come up:
- WebQuests? We did those years ago. How about something new?
- WebQuests were great. Why aren’t people using them today?
Both responses are understandable. As pedagogically sound as the WebQuest format is, like just about all new ideas, especially in education, what was seen as “paradigm shifts” often become mere “pendulum swings.” We thought we were changing the world from rote learning to deep understanding. But in the bustle of school life, routines can overwhelm any new way of doing things.
The Downsides of WebQuests
That said, I’ve created enough WebQuests and led that many more PL workshops to know that a few things make WebQuests pretty challenging:
- They take time to create – mostly in two ways: finding rich online resources and designing the group process.
- Understanding “understanding” – everybody “gets” knowledge. It’s the acquisition of new information. But folks aren’t typically so clear on how understanding requires the use of knowledge. And this “construction of new meaning” goes right to the heart of Piaget’s assimilation and accommodation. We all learned this in Teacher Ed, but it took me a pretty long time to really get it.
- The class time they take – When you have students check their background knowledge, then divide in teams to take on specific roles, and in these roles, to develop particular mastery before bringing this expertise back to their groups, at which time a jigsaw synthesis must occur, then…. you get the idea. This is why I’ve always see WebQuests as a central, once / semester kind of experience, not daily fare.
Enter the … “QuickQuest?”
I really love that the Web is full of great learning resources. I find them inspiring. People, non-profits, cultural groups, media companies, you name them, put out really amazing content. We educators are so lucky to be teaching in this era of rich resources (and good bandwidth?). So here’s my approach:
- I start with a topic worthy of students (this can be from the gut or curriculum standards)
- I take about 30 minutes to search around the Web to see if any Real, Rich and Relevant resources exist for the topic.
- If so, I know I’m onto something good and I keep at it. This usually means a little lateral searching to find things that might extend or deepen how students engage with the topic.
- If I’m not finding anything inspiring in 30 minutes, but feel like I’m close, I do more searching. If I feel like the topic’s a dead-end, I’ll call it quits and go with the usual fare.
So let’s see how this works in real life:
I was contacted by a teacher looking for a WebQuest on “Life Cycles” for Years 3-4 science students. I took a look through a database I have of “BestWebQuests,” but didn’t turn up anything. I’d been playing with this mini WebQuest / QuickQuest / PDQ Quest (yes, “pretty darn quick,” but also “pedagogically-driven query”) idea and took the “Life Cycles” request as a challenge.
The result is what I’m tentatively calling a QuickQuest. It’s supported by slides and a student activity page. You can get the Life Cycles example for free from my TeachersPayTeachers store.
Let’s Hear from You!
Please use the poll, comments below, my contact page or Twitter (@NextEraEd) to
- Give feedback about the name
- Suggest topics and I’ll see about making “QuickQuests” on them!