Centre for Educational Multimedia
     
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DEEWR

WebQuests

Supportive Classroom Environment

The learning behind WebQuests strongly supports this broad view of just the classroom environment. As already mentioned the learning through these WebQuests challenges the time and place of learning in the classroom, connects to learning about place and provides teachers with understandings about student engagement. A feature of the webquests in this school is the use of Blackboard (Virtual Learning Environment) to mediate student learning.

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As the students are undertaking their lessons at home, the use of ICT is essentially to mediate supportive learning environments.

Even though they've never met they become very familiar and feel quite confident at discussing things and even disagreeing with each other while doing these courses. (Middle school teacher, Cairns School of Distance Education)

An important element in the supportive learning environment in this school is an ethical approach to the use of ICT which mediates these learning spaces beyond the classroom. The process of developing students who are confident in disagreeing in a respectful way with other students in their class is a powerful discourse to impart on students. Unpacking the ethical frameworks that support the learning environments that surround these webquests would provide students with an explicit charter of ICT use in the broader society.

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While some teachers noted that developing on line units took a lot of work, the principal identified the improved professionalism of teachers in response to the higher level of student engagement.

Teachers get that feedback. They see it happening. They become more enthusiastic about generating new materials. (Principal, Cairns School of Distance Education)

A supportive learning environment needs to incorporate teachers' learning about learning as they move towards digitising their lessons. What the teachers above have demonstrated with their use of WebQuests is that the improved engagement relies on good pedagogical designs in a digital medium, not just with the medium itself. Positioning teachers as authentic learners of their profession is a contextual feature of these WebQuests which may influence the success of this pedagogy in the school. Making this teachers' learning explicit to the students would exemplify the supportive learning environment that is mediated in this virtual space.

 

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