Thinking Thru Linking

General Tips on Picking Links
Hotlists & Scrapbooks · Treasure Hunts · Subject Samplers · Concept Builders · Webquests

Two Views of Thinking thru Linking

The title of this page carries an intended double meaning:

Instructional designers should think through how they use Internet links
The Internet holds such a wealth of possibilities that it is important to diagnostically choose the right kind of site to achieve the intended instructional goal.

Thinking links should be developed in the minds of learners using the pages
Students should engage in thinking that connects to prior knowledge, creates links to other content areas, extends their cognitive schema, and prompts the construction of new meaning.

Note: for more background on these activity formats, read Working the Web for Education.

Tips on Picking Links

Don't look to the Web as if it's an encyclopedia. Whenever possible try to pick sites that make it the bizarre and powerful resource that it is. Try to choose sites that are:
Current - The Washington Post

Authentic - The Government of Tibet in Exile

Rich - Rainforest Action Network

Controversial - Mimsy Were the Borogoves: The Self-Defense Tuskegee

Powerful - Contacting Congress - ZIP to It

Relevant - U.S. National Debt Clock

Media Rich - CNN's Video Almanac

When you find a good site, a couple tips are:

Match Internet links to your learners' interest and ability levels.
Searching for China: a WebQuest vs. Does the Tiger Eat her Cubs?

Choose the page, not the Website
Samuel F. B. Morse's first message vs. Library of Congress

Look for ways to manipulate the site for instructional impact
The National Debt Clock in Look Who's Footing the Bill!

Topic Hotlists and Multimedia Scrapbooks

Instructional Goal:
Provide learners with a wide range or resources that will allow for expansion research and individual interests. Hotlists collect Web sites and divide them into sub-categories. Multimedia Scrapbooks are very similar, but they divide the collected Web sites by media type. These resources are then available to learners as raw material to use their own multimedia stacks, presentations, and newsletters.

China on the Net

Examples of Web sites to Look for when designing Hotlists and Scrapbooks
The main things to look for are comprehensive sites. Since there is no instructional goal specified within a Topic Hotlist or Mutlimedia Scrapbook, the resources are collected to supplement a unit of study and provide an abundance and variety of information so that students can explore based upon their own research goals. This by definition means you're trying to provide breadth and depth for a range of learners and their interests.

Life Magazine

The National Gallery of Art

CIA World Fact Book

Oyez, Oyez, Oyez

The Library of Congress' The African American Mosiac

Treasure Hunts

Instructional Goal:
Whereas Hotlists provide a wide array of information sources, Treasure Hunts target specific knowledge acquisition outcomes. Designers identify key areas within the domain being studied and collect Web sites that contain significant information. Questions prompt learners toward acquiring the new knowledge.

Interactive Black History Treasure Hunt

The Treasures of China

Examples of Web sites to Look for when designing Treasure Hunts
Because the goal is knowledge acquisition, informative Web pages, not sites, should be collected. Point learners to a page and send them in the right direction by providing questions that encourage reading for meaning.

The Dalai Lama's Speech Accepting the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize

"Negotiating and Building Effective Working Relationships with People in China"

"On the Pulse of the Morning", by Maya Angelou

Oregon Trail Family Biographies and Diaries

High Altitude Illnesses

Subject Sampler

Instructional Goal:
Engage students in aspects of a topic that they find personally interesting or motivating as a strategy for developing positive attitudes and affective connection to the topic.

My China

Sampling African America

Examples of Web sites to Look for when designing Subject Samplers
The main things to look for are sites that evoke human interest. They may touch our emotions, excite our imaginations, or make us particularly feel our humanity. Regardless, there's something about these sites that turn our perspectives toward reflection.

from the Moonlit Road, folktales

Powerful Days in Black and White, images from the Civil Rights Movement

Robert Kennedy's Speech on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Death

Chinese Proverbs, by Haiwang Yuan

The Splendors of Imperial China from the Asian Art Museums of San Francisco

Concept Builder

Instructional Goal:
Prompt concept development in students by selecting sets of Web sites that illustrate the critical attributes of a particular concept or subject. Designers may choose to strictly apply the Concept Attainment strategy or create an immersion experience from which students can construct new schema by viewing related examples.

Religious Leader role from Searching for China

Byzantine Period from the No Fear o' Eras activity in Eyes on Art

Examples of Web sites to Look for when designing Concept Builders
The main things to look for are sets of sites that share significant commonalities. You may choose to include non-examples as a spark to student perceptions and discrimination. I usually look for three examples for each concept. The kinds of sites you want hold many examples from which you can choose.

Online Icons: Byzantine images

World War II Propaganda, Cartoons, Film, Music, & Art

Thumbnails of many paintings by Jan Vermeer


Instructional Goal:
To prompt learners to inquire and construct meaning through collaborative research and decision making. Learners are supported by extensive Internet and other resources and prompted to higher order thinking by cognitive scaffolding.

Searching for China: a Unit WebQuest

Tuskegee Tragedy

Examples of Web sites to Look for when designing WebQuests
Look for sites that illustrate diverse perspectives because WebQuests target higher level thinking and a collection of Web sites grouped by opposing or overlapping roles will create a thick sense of complexity and multiple truths. This may be because the topic is controversial, but it may also be that the topic is so large or connected to other issues that it requires a team approach. Here's where we want sites that pose strong opinions so students can critque and discriminate.

Hate in the News

America's Children: How Are They Doing?

How Hot [Radioactive] are You?

Conspiracy or Unnatural Disaster?

First written, January 1996. Last revised April 2003.