There is no question that students today have been exposed to a great deal of technology, and, in general, they feel comfortable using it in their everyday lives. That being the case, Wheeler et al state that “it has never been more imperative for educators to understand how to adapt new technologies and software into real teaching contexts.” (Wheeler, et al.) How can we as teachers apply this knowledge in our classrooms? The ISTE NETS Standard 2 calls teachers to “design or adapt relevant learning experiences” using “contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning…” In order to make learning relevant and meaningful to students, we should be using an avenue with which they are comfortable—the internet and other computer technology.
This use of technology in the classroom has also altered the way that teachers teach. These resources have allowed teachers to implement more “student-led collaborative learning where teachers adopt a supportive role,” according to Wheeler. This alteration of teaching further addresses the ISTE NETS Standard 2 as students can “pursue their individual curiosities and become active participants…managing their own learning, and assessing their own progress.” Salomon & Perkins, as quoted by Niederhauser and Lindstrom, say that this shift means that the learner will find an “active engagement in assembling, extending, restoring, interpreting…constructing knowledge out of raw materials of experience and provided information.”
One way that teachers can address this issue is by using WebQuests. A WebQuest, as defined by “QuestGarden” is designed “to create lessons that make good use of the web, engage learners in applying higher level thinking to authentic problems, and use everyone’s time well.” Using WebQuests gives students the opportunity to learn at their own pace with methods that work best for their learning style. The activities can also be designed in a way that students are encouraged to learn about something that really interests them, all the while practicing their computer and internet skills.
For part of this standard, I have begun creating a WebQuest assignment. Although far from finished, the goal of this assignment is to guide students through the process of choosing a research topic that will be interesting for them and meaningful for the class. The project towards which they will be working is in line with the 9th/10th grade World History CBA (Classroom Based Assessment).
Guided inquiry made semi-easy. Retrieved from http://questgarden.com/.
Niederhauser, D., Lindstrom, D. (2006). Addressing the NETS for students through constructivist technology use in K-12 classrooms. J. Educational Computing Research, 34(1), 91-128.
Wheeler, S., Yeomans, P., & Wheeler, D. (2008). The good, the bad, and the wiki: Evaluating student-generated content for collaborative learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39 (6), 987-995.