Sunday, 24 January 2016

Developing Critical Thinking With WebQuests

In an earlier post (on a different blog), I took a look at "WebQuests" - class activities, or sequences thereof, that send learners looking for information and demand that they do something to analyse, evaluate or in some way respond to it.

Some time later, I felt it was time to return to this topic - and so a Teacher Development workshop was born. It was delivered twice - first at a UK Summer School in July 2015, then again at Katedra's annual conference in Budapest on Saturday, 23rd January 2016.

So what's the big deal with WebQuests?

Well, in one sense they aren't such a big deal: it's just a tried-and-tested approach to teaching that just happens to make the Internet an integral part of teaching and learning.

However, looked at another way, WebQuests are important by virtue of the questions they ask students. There's more than Internet search involved here: the questions challenge students to think, to a greater or lesser extent. That goes beyond cutting and pasting material found on Wikipedia.

Saturday's talk involved a "demonstration" of sorts using war poetry materials, but this approach can be applied to almost any kind of subject matter. The main thing is: challenge your learners! A number of WebQuest repositories are listed at the end of the slideshow above.

The Internet certainly plays an important role in my classes with younger learners. Might you like to give WebQuests a try? They may involve some effort upfront on the teacher's part, but this is an approach that can pay dividends, particularly if the WebQuest is framed as an assessed piece of project work.