Centre for Educational Multimedia
     
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DEEWR

WebQuests

Connectedness

Teachers outline several aspects of connectedness through the use of WebQuests at CSDE. Education Queensland identifies a high level of connectedness when the students' linguistic, cultural and world knowledge is linked to the abstract outcomes of the lesson. The link between the children's everyday experiences and the abstract critique of their practices was exemplified in the WebQuests from CSDE.

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The students who were involved in it became so engaged with the unit that they actually worked through their Christmas holidays which kept me quite busy as well because I had to respond to their emails and their discussion forum topics as well. (Teacher, CSDE)

One measure of student connectedness is the extent to which they engage in the curriculum during the school holidays. The important pedagogical element in this example is how WebQuests are used by the teacher as a way of liberating the time-space students historically associated with school.

This teacher has shown how a well-designed WebQuest that connects to the interests of the students has the capacity to engage them after the close of school at the end of the year. Both students and teachers are learning about the capacity of virtually supporting learning in time-place that is different to classrooms in red brick school buildings. This learning is vital if the time and space of the classroom undergoes a reconfiguration through asynchronous use of ICT, as demonstrated by this teacher and his students.

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Another example of connectedness in this Webquest is the engagement of students in debates on sustainability.

The WebQuest provides the teacher with an opportunity to apprentice the students into the contested practices of finding solutions to their open ended investigations. Embedded in the WebQuests developed by this teacher is a strong connectedness to place. Through their investigation of the savannah and then the reef, most students are connecting to the issues of sustaining important places in Far North Queensland.

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This same connectedness to place may have driven student motivation in another WebQuest about developing a local park.

The interesting thing about this particular unit is the depth to which the students became involved. (Jim, Middle school teacher, Cairns school of Distance Education)

The teacher mentions the importance of having learning across the curriculum (LAC). Even though he suggested this one has a focus on maths there is obviously a strong social approach to the design of the park, bringing maths into context. Teachers might look for WebQuests that have primary focus on one discipline while connecting in other ways across the curriculum to other disciplines. After all real world problems are not pre-packaged with curriculum discipline tags. The more opportunities students have to work across the curriculum with real world problems the more engaged students will become in their own learning pathways.

The above video touches on the real authenticity in these learning tasks associated with WebQuests. Designing WebQuests from issues raised by local businesses and local organizations would be an exciting way for teachers to develop a real connectedness to student learning. The students would be engaged in learning motivated by the knowledge that there is a real audience for the outcome of their investigation. Where these outside bodies endorse the student inquiry there would be a strong connectedness to life beyond the classroom.

ICT can play a pivotal role in providing access to information that the students need to critique in order to answer the question. As outlined above, ICT has also played an important role in mediating the students' development of solutions as they interact with their peers and teacher.

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ICT can play a pivotal role in providing access to information that the children need to critique in order to answer the question. As outlined above, ICT has also played an important role in mediating the students' development of solutions as they interact with their peers and teacher.

 

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