Sunday, March 7, 2010

Inquiry-based Webquest

From wikipedia, Inquiry (also enquiry) is any process that has the aim of augmenting knowledge, resolving doubt, or solving a problem. How can this be translated to developing a Webquest? At the beginning of this project, I thought I had a pretty good understanding of what an Inquiry-based Webquest should entail. After all, I had dealt with solving difficult problems in my previous career. I knew right away I wanted to develop a Webquest that would be interesting to the students, a topic they could relate to, and I had a general idea of the skills I wanted the students to gain from the task. Putting it together was a challenge. The in-class brainstorming of ideas necessary for Inquiry-based projects became quite useful in developing my Webquest.

So many times in the past, I have experienced teachers locating Webquests on topics being addressed in the classroom, only to be disappointed in the final product. Many of the webquests I examined had broken links or were simply fill in the blank worksheet types of activities. I can understand using this type of webquest with younger students to teach them how to locate information on the Internet. Unfortunately, most of these webquest indicated they were for much older students. The broken link issue is something that happens more frequently than we would like. Many teachers do not spend the time checking every link to make sure they are live as it takes time, yet it is one of the most important aspects of the Webquest. If the information is not available, of what use is the Webquest?

To develop an Inquiry-based Webquest takes a tremendous amount of time but the rewards will be tremendous. Letting students evaluate information, using technology tools and their own creativity allows them to be accountable for the task and the results. The task I chose is a real world problem, something that is in the news constantly and needs to be addressed by the students when they are young. Giving students the ability to work collaboratively on a topic that is familiar to them is just one way to hook them in to inquiry-based learning.
It is well known that students will make a better effort if the topic is something that is of interest to them.

I understand that this type of activity is not always possible, primarily because of the time involved in creating the project. I do see many uses and benefits for inquiry-based webquests. I am appreciative I had the opportunity to develop a true inquiry-based webquest. It certainly made me reflect on developing a project that students would be interested in, yet, meet many of the requirements of the curriculum at the same time.