Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Process of WebQuests

I've been participating in a workshop on webquests and recently responded to a post related to the process section of a webquest (slightly adapted)...

I tend to be a bit ambivalent when it comes to the process section of a webquest because of what the webquest is set out to do versus how it is actually being implemented (and this may be the reason why I have only technically applied a webquest once over the last five years).  Webquests are intended to address a real-life problem or is considered to be an authentic task in and of itself.  But most real-life problems are ill-defined and requires a process that results only after a period of interaction, openness, and diversity acceptance - all of which usually are absent when procedures are presented before students begin the task.

I agree that a teacher must be prepared and should anticipate problems that might hinder the educative experience, but I wonder if "frontloading" too much information for a given task can lessen its value.  I feel that a failed project can occur when teachers are not accustomed to taking on a facilitative role that requires special care in guiding the students through an ambiguous situation.  That is, the teacher must understand the ambiguity of the problem so through proper assistance, students can work through levels of uncertainty.  As an EFL teacher educator, even NNS, preservice educators can be a bit uncomfortable about working through an ill-defined problem, but isn't this what we should prepare them for?

I continue to search for balance when it comes to providing information a prior and providing the intervention (i.e., support, didactic instruction, guidance, etc.) needed in order for students to be successful.  This searching is an ongoing learning process for me and one that I enjoy as I seek to improve how I teach and learn.