Tag Archives: webquest

Learning Project, Final Reflection

So I managed to pull together a workable Webquest for my ECMP355  Learning Project but haven’t yet been able to try it out; I hope to be able to in the new year.  This will be my last formal reflection on my project for this term but I will update when I have a chance to elaborate, apply or re-create another webquest!

I’m very much a self-directed learner.  One who likes to teach herself things.  A visual learner.  One who likes to see things done but doesn’t have the attention span for long videos or movies.  I am a sitcom watcher, not a movie-goer.  The online class has been challenging for me because it is a long time for me to focus on a screen and voices.  But I was up for the challenge.

When teaching myself something, I generally know where my learning is going, but because my vision changes the further along I go, and the more ideas I come up with, I never really know what path I’ll be on.  I just know that when I get to where I need to be, I’ll know.  It’ll look and feel and sound right.  I don’t like to ask for help before I try to solve a problem myself.  I enjoy problem/challenge identification and the problem solving process to figure things out. Having to be transparent meant that I was very cognizant of every piece of information that I gathered for my project.   I did research online, saw people’s experiences via YouTube, spoke to teachers who have used Webquests, took information from our online and face-to-face ECMP355 classes and considered suggestions from people online during our class time.  Much of my learning was trial and error, and I think that because I was allowed to choose what I wanted to learn I was much more motivated.    I think that a project such as this one makes me realize that it is easy to rely on one way to learn something but if we use a variety of sources, we are able to get so much more, not the least of which is continuing to build a Personal Learning Network to exchange ideas in the future, as well.

I was the kid who started a million projects and didn’t finish them because I got bored of them.  Drove my parents crazy.  I am the adult who has bought all the materials and taught herself how to scrapbook, do stained glass stepping stones, do stamped card-making, cake and cupcake decorating, and a little bit of photography.  But never at the same time.  I do one, get bored, move on.  Now I’m driving my husband crazy.  My little ‘interest stashes’ all over the storage room are a bit out of control!   That is one of the reasons that I chose a learning project that would have a product that I could ‘end’ with.  I know that learning how to do a webquest doesn’t have to end.  It can always be developed at a different grade levels, use different types of problems and reach different levels of webquest taxonomy.  I was afraid that I would ‘give up’ or ‘get bored’ without a product in mind.

So being transparent was sometimes a challenge.  I would wake up at 3 in the morning with a GREAT idea and would jot it on a notepad on my bedside table.  Then I’d search out the information online the next day.  I didn’t document everytime I did that or I would be documenting All.  The.  Time.  I was surprised at the amount of learning that I got from various places, having been a person who was used to researching in books and articles.

I didn’t realize how much of a perfectionist I was until I had to be transparent.  It has been hard for me to break down the learning to my project publicly because I like to keep my process my ‘secret.’  I like people to see the sparkly, fabulous product or result of my learning endeavours but not the messy, unorganized process that I take to get there because that is inexplicable, even to me. I want them to see how brilliantly creative I am (What?  Too much?)  and not the struggles and frustrations that I went through to make it so.   I tried to be reflective and show those things for this project, though.

Our class was asked to contribute to the rubric or to help identify what we would look for in a successful learning project.  I contributed the following to our Google Doc for class discussion:

Self-evaluation/reflection
Regular updates via blog on progress (weekly?)
Identification of struggles/roadblocks
Resources
I am happy with my learning success, the process, and the product and I have been thankful for the opportunity to take part in this project.   I have also truly enjoyed following the  journeys of my classmates, Dean Shareski and those others in the web-world who have taken up Mr. Shareski’s challenge of the learning project, such as this one by Mr. Jared Nichol.  I wish everyone the best in their learning and would encourage them to continue on the path of being forever-learners.
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Webquest Rubric Development

A key part of a webquest is to include the tool that you would use to assess the learner’s progress.  I have decided to develop a rubric to include on mine.

I have used a variety of scaled assessment tools in my time as a teacher but since I have been away from the profession for a number of years I have never developed a rubric or had any professional development on doing so.  I started with some Googling, and specifically searched for rubric materials that were specific to Saskatchewan Education.  I came across this document and spent a fair amount of time reading it.

After reading it, I searched out a number of sample rubrics and based on those and what I read, I tailored one as best as I could, with my project in mind.  It took a long time!  I was actually surprised how long it took for me to finish it.   I tried to get the wording *just* right so that it was clear and detailed but not overwhelming.  I also included a section in my rubric for self-evaluation by the student.

My rubric can be found here.

I have forwarded it to the teacher who will share my webquest with her class for her feedback on its effectiveness.

A new point of view

We had a great online session in my ECMP355 class with Sylvia Martinez discussing Gaming in Education  last week and near the end of her presentation one of the guest ‘students’ in our class, Neil Stephenson, commented on webquests not being a very effective learning tool, being mostly an “internet fact grab” and “not embodying principals of good learning.”

I am a little bit sad to say that looking at the webquest that I have learned how to create and that I have developed, that I think I could have done a lot better in that area.   I was attempting to use some higher-level thinking skills and I wanted there to be evaluation and comparisons, presentations and critical thinking, but after hearing Ms. Martinez’s presentation about gaming in the classroom, I am wishing that I had heard of this earlier because I would have made game programming my learning project!

So, this would be the learning portion of the program:  I don’t think Webquests are useless. I believe they have their place and I have seen a number of excellent examples on the internet. I know my website isn’t ‘excellent’ but for a first attempt, I am happy with how it turned out.  That said, after seeing Ms Martinez’s presentation and giving gaming more thought, I think that there are a lot of excellent concepts that could be taught using many applications of gaming.

I am going to have a look at the Scratch website that was provided and I may attempt to create a game to supplement my webquest.

Maybe.

The other thing I’ve recognized, lately,  is that I had initially tried to create a project for a Grade Two classroom so I adjusted the location of the information to be easier to find and more age-appropriate by using information gathered on Google Docs.  Now that I am trying to implement it with a higher level class, I think I would have done it much differently, by linking to actual websites, since they would have more of an ability to navigate and read for information in those places.  I won’t change my project at this stage of the game, but would be more wary of those things if I were to do it again.

Learning one step at a time

Last week I posted that I would be making contact with Bernie Dodge, creator of the webquest model.  Well, Interwebz, I managed to find the nerve and to send him an email.  I think that as part of my learning project, I have been very hesitant to share any of the product because I haven’t had any feedback, except the comparisons that I have made to other webquests on the ‘net and informal feedback from a couple of teachers who I have been working with to share with their classes.  Feedback is what motivates me.  I want to know where I can improve and what I can do better.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d also like to hear what I’m doing well!  I am sure that Mr. Dodge is a very busy man, but I hope that he will be able to take a peek at my webquest and provide some feedback for me.

And I hope it’s not too bad, for my first attempt!

Here is a copy of my email, in search of feedback and opinions:

Hi, Mr. Dodge!

I am a student of Dean Shareski’s at the University of Regina, taking an ECMP355 class.  He had mentioned to you via Twitter a while back that I had decided for my learning project for this term to develop and implement a Webquest.  I was very intrigued by this learning method and have looked at many, many examples on the web, have watched YouTube videos of information and have, of course, read a great deal of the information on your webquest.org site.

I am going to preface this by saying that all of my ‘learning’ for this and the research for setting up this webquest has been completely self-directed and self-researched.  I have let only two other people peek at the project that I am working on because I know that I am very ‘green’ to this type of project, and coupled with the fact that after 10 years of teaching I have been away from the profession for 10 years, I am a bit out of practice on my application of levels of thinking and I have never developed a rubric, so I know that this project lacks ‘polish.’  Our learning project was to be transparent in our learning and I have tried to journal my process on my blog, www.tolearnandconnect.wordpress.com under the category, “Project Webquest.”  The intent was not to necessarily come up with a product, but to become aware and to dissect the way we learn and our process along the way.

That being said, I want a product.  I want to be able to use this webquest in a classroom and I have already arranged with a teacher to allow me to introduce it to her class, soon.  I am interested in your opinion on my first attempt at a webquest.  I would love for you to read this blog post that I made, first, before you see my website, to give you an idea of how nervous I am about sending this email:  www.tolearnandconnect.wordpress.com/2011/10/18/playing-the-homecoming/

Many of the things that I have tried to incorporate (Zooburst, Google Docs, Google Sites) are things that I have learned and have been experimenting with in my ECMP355 class.  I am interested in hearing how you feel those things contribute to or detract from the effectiveness of this webquest.

I appreciate your time and hope that you will have a few minutes to look over what I have done so far and to give me some constructive criticism.  The webquest URL is www.sites.google.com/site/letsgoowlingkids/

Thanks, again, most appreciatively!

Trina Crawford

I hope that he will be able to respond to me and until then I won’t be editing my webquest.

Upon further reflection of my learning, I have determined that I am quite happy learning independently.  I like being able to self-direct my discoveries and search through sources, finding ones that I enjoy using and being able to skip over ones that aren’t as appealing to me.   I am a bit of a perfectionist.  I change things and manipulate and rewrite things until I am very happy with them, and I hope that the process that I am learning so much about will result in a product that will be useful for others and will have some ‘wow-factor’ for them as well.

I think that webquests leave so much room for creativity and implementation of different mediums.   I have a short attention span.  I am enjoying this project because within the large framework of the webquest I have been challenged to learn and experiment with such things as Zooburst and Google Docs and Sites.  I have enjoyed each small (not always so small and sometimes very frustrating!) step on this journey.   My next step in the learning process will be to attempt the development of an effective rubric for assessment.  This is something I have never done, so I am off to do some research, one small step at a time!

Always have a Plan B.

I sent the draft of my webquest to the teacher who I was going to be working with.  As I had suspected, it’s too challenging for a Grade Two classroom.  I was really excited with the prospect of working with my daughter’s class but as I have learned from Bernie Dodge’s material, webquests are generally most appropriate for the over Grade Three groups.  At this time, I am not going to change my project, but I am going to try to change my audience.  I will approach a Grade Four or Five teacher to see if they have kids who would benefit from this type of project.

I think when you are learning something new that it is important to seek feedback as you go along.  I’m glad I did because it reinforced my gut-feeling that I would have been presenting something that was not grade-appropriate.

I will wait to see if I have a new group of volunteers!

Here’s a clip that I am using for the introduction portion of my Webquest.  I was inspired to try Zooburst after our session with Alan Levine a few weeks ago.  It is best viewed in “Fullscreen mode.”

Playing “The Homecoming”

When my friend Katie was quite young and had started learning to play the piano, she was attempting to master a very well-known piece of music by a well known Canadian musician.  Since I can’t remember exactly what piece it was, I am going to take some artistic license here and pretend that it was The Homecoming by Hagood Hardy.  (Yes, Katie, I know.  It’s incorrect.  But it serves the story well, even if it is a semi-fictional account.)

As luck would have it, Katie ended up at an occasion in the company of Mr. Hardy, a piano, and her parents.  Her parents INSISTED that she play the Homecoming for Mr. Hardy.  Katie still talks about how nervous she was, having to perform such a beautiful piece of music for the man who had written and recorded it.

When I initially told Mr. Shareski, our instructor for ECMP355, that I was planning on learning how to build and implement a Webquest, he put me in touch with Bernie Dodge, who is the creator of the Webquest model and a Professor of Educational Technology at San Diego State University, using Twitter. I think I know how Katie felt, a little bit.  I am nervous that I won’t do this justice.  I know that I must contact Mr. Dodge because this is an amazing opportunity to network with someone who is a visionary and who could provide valuable feedback.

I am making good progress, I think, starting to really think about the Webquest Taxonomy and what elements I will try to incorporate into the quest.  I have been using Google Sites for my Webquest and have found a template that has a general outline of each of the sections of the Webquest, so I’m trying to stick pretty closely to those while also referring to Mr. Dodge’s website as well.

It’s time for me to play The Homecoming.  I pledge that by this time next week I will have gotten up the nerve to contact Mr. Dodge.  You can hold me to that.

Some great resources

I’ve found some great resources on Youtube to help me with my Webquest development:

What is a Webquest?

How to Make a Webquest

Questgarden

There are additional ones, but for now these have the information I need.