I’m at Bernie Dodge’s presentation on the webquest
tool Questgarden. He’s addressing the problems with the original webquest tools (hand coding), too much skill required, and the need for resources that teachers don’t have. He’s addressing the pedagogical skills that teachers don’t have (constructivism, higher level thinking, coherence). Some of the other problems include lack of peer support or feedback and server storage. Webquests also tend to be never updated. Teachers also are scared by the time demands. Also there are excellent teachers who will never make a webquest.
On to Questgarden, uses a metaphor of a community garden for everyone to share information and resources. He debuted the tool in 2005 and opened it to everyone in September. It started with 300 users and now has about 29,000 users. There about 14,000 webquests that have over 500 words.
The features of Questgarden include step by step prompting, and it is browser based (preferably Firefox). It emphasizes the sharing of resources and advice. It is a WYSIWYG tool. Has the ability to upload pictures and supplementary files. Based on design patterns.
Dodge is going on the demonstrate the tool. webquest.org There are five stages to creating a webquest.
1. goals and context
2. task and assessment
4. final details
5. polish and publish
There are many tools to assist in creating webquests maybe most importantly there are links to many examples that have been already created with the same pattern or basic design as the user has chosen, and there is even a chat room for real time interaction with other teachers.
He is now showing some examples of finished webquests. The overall design is fairly straight forward and easily navigable for students. Several examples are making students move away from the computer and go out into the community to achieve some positive ends usually with an environmental or political problem. Another area of webquests incorporates TV themes (CSI Macbeth). Lastly he’s showing an example in which the Great Gatsby is incorporating a wiki to have the students collaboratively great a guide to studying the book. Some webquests are now also incorporating podcasts.
He was surprised with the extent in which there are kid created webquests. So far however they have not been successful.
Ultimately all good webquests in looking at Blooms taxonomy use the higher level thinking skills. The tool will be free until September 2006.
The new future features will include the ability to port the webquest to another server. Sites will be translated into other languages. Also there will be a peer rating and feedback. Integrated quiz/drill/game experiences. Also the ability to download someone elses’s Webquest into one’s server and the ability to tweak it to meet one’s needs. Also the two main sites webquest.org and webquest.edsu.edu will be merged into Drupal. RSS feeds for newly uploaded webquests. Lastly new design patterns will incorporate Web 2.0 tools including blogs, wikis, and podcasting to guide the user to use the tools in a way that makes sense. He will also for the next revision (after September 2006) incorporate new or recent tools including timelines, concept maps, and surveys.