Post WebQuest Entry
[I remembered going through some examples of WebQuests on the net prior to working on mine and going to myself "Hey, it's so simple! I don't even need to read up that much!". Yeahhhh right. I can't believe I was deceived by what I saw. Apparently, a lot of thought and effort are needed when it comes to conceptualizing and creating a WebQuest. Oh well, as they say, you learn by doing.]
Our WebQuest started with the conceptualization phase where we turned to the current upper secondary textbooks for ideas on what to focus on for it. As we looked through the textbooks, we were hooked on the idea of creating a WebQuest for one of the case studies found there. Though the case study could evidently be found in the textbook, we wanted the kids to glean the information on their own instead of waiting for us to spoonfeed them with it. We wanted them to have the opportunity to look through the available content on the web and have a hand at researching.
Having found a focus on why we wanted the students to use the WebQuest, our main problem now lies in the fact that we lacked the syllabus focus. We had to ensure that the WebQuest was relevant to the syllabus. This focus turned out to be that students are supposed to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of development.
With these issues settled, we now had to think of a suitable case study for the students to work on. Obviously, we couldn't be doing the exact same case study found in the textbook as students could easily read off from it. This would defeat the whole purpose of ensuring that students have a hand at research. After thinking further, we decided to settle on the Three Gorges Dam as our case study. The main reason why the dam was chosen as a case study was because an abundance of information could be found regarding it. Not only that, there were lots of information pertaining to the content that we wanted to focus on. That is, the advantages and disadvantages of development. Hence, we found the Three Gorges Dam to be an apt case study for the students to work on.
With everything in place, we're now left with transferring all our ideas onto the website. We had chosen to use Microsoft Expression to create our WebQuest but little did we know that we had made a wrong move in chosing this platform. While the initial stages was a breeze due to the user-friendly interface that the program has, the problems arose when we uploaded our files onto Geocities. All our layout appeared haphazardly. They were out of place and the colours weren't as we intended it to be. Thinking that the issue lies in the CSS codes, we thus tried to edit that. However, the more we edited, the worst it got!
Therefore, imagine the look of disbelief and later, horror when we realized at 1130hrs on the project submission day itself that we might be facing the prospects of re-doing our site. Actually, that was what happened. We ended up having to cut and paste all our content from our Geocities site to the current one (hosted on WebQuest Portal). This took approximately 30-40 minutes.
With that done, we then looked through our site. Being able to view the WebQuest like that in itself brought a number of realizations to us. Firstly, we realized that the students might not get the full idea of what they were supposed to get out of the task given to them. While the task was to essentially find out the advantages and disadvantages of the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, this was actually only a platform that serves to highlight to them a larger issue at hand: that not all development is good. We hoped that the students were able to realize this reality attached to development as they find out the advantages and disadvantages of the construction of the dam. However, the nature of the task assigned to them might not instantly and explicitly bring out this awareness to the students. Therefore, we had to add an extra paragraph in the Introduction page to inform them that this was what they were supposed to gather at the end of their WebQuest journey. We also re-iterated this message in the Conclusion page to ensure that students are aware of this issue.
With this problem rectified, we went to on handle another problem that we feel was inherent in our WebQuest. That is, its ability to capture the students' interest. We tried to think of possible scenarios that we can use in our Introduction page. However, I think that both of us lacked sleep (slept for only one to two hours the night before) and were too tired by then to feel at all inspired. We thus decided to improve on the current introduction that we had instead of having an entirely new one. This improvement took the form of adding a video footage of the Yangtze River and the Three Gorges Dam.
Lastly, we were concerned over the issue of scaffolding. We were worried that there was insufficient scaffolding given to the students. Overcoming this issue entailed bringing ourselves down to their level. We had to read the scaffolding found on the Process page through their eyes. This was a rather challenging task as we had to try to pretend we're seeing the WebQuest for the first time and that we do not know anything about the case study being presented.
Upon hindsight, I realized that we should have asked someone else to read our WebQuest instead of doing it ourselves. That would have been a much better option when it comes to testing out whether enough scaffolding was given. In fact, it would have been better if we had asked someone else to go through the WebQuest and gather their inputs on the interest and value levels that they perceive can be gathered from our WebQuest.
That said, I feel that the whole process of creating this WebQuest has provided me with a valuable learning experience. Through this process, I was again brought to the awareness that students matter. Students, students, students. This was the running theme throughout the creation of this WebQuest from its conceptualization to its delivery phase. Questions of "Why do I want my students to use this WebQuest?", "Why would the WebQuest be relevant to them?", "Can they do this?", "Would they find the instructions too confusing?", "Would I be able to capture their interest?", "Would they get the content I'm trying to bring across?" among others constantly inundate my mind throughout the process.
At the end of it all, something which I thought was an easy task to carry out turned out to be quite difficult. It was difficult not only because of the considerations pertaining to students which I had to grapple with but also, due to the technical glitches I encountered along the way.
Despite all these, I think that I will adopt WebQuest for one of my lessons in future. Creating it has made me realize the value behind WebQuests which I was not aware of previously. Admittedly, I was not bought over by the idea of WebQuests when it was first introduced by Prof Chang earlier on in the semester. This view was further enhanced as I read up more on WebQuests over the net. I had felt that the word 'WebQuest' was merely a substitute for ICT-based lessons. Well, I was proven wrong. I now advocate the use of WebQuests in the classroom BUT there is one thing that I have reservations over.
Are we just going to get the students to complete the tasks found in the WebQuests or are we going to include the grades they receive on those tasks into their CAs? Afterall, the students did put in some effort in completing the tasks and I feel that this should be recognized. Also, what of students who deem the tasks they had to do for WebQuests as a waste of time? These students might not find the value in completing the WebQuests and as a result, might not benefit from it.
Well, seems that issues regarding WebQuests does not only lie in creating it but also, implementing it. Still, if these issues are ironed out properly, then the full benefits of WebQuests can definitely be reaped. Thus as mentioned earlier, I think that I will most likely adopt WebQuests for some of my lessons in future. Now, the problem would be to find the time to create one. Heh, of course it would be better if I can use some WebQuests already available. Specifically those done by my classmates? *hint hint*