Webquests: a platform-thinking application
- Case type
- Target group
- Rationale & purpose
- Pedagogic/didactic approach
- ICT used
- Description of case
The extension of the classroom through web literacy and platform thinking.
Teachers and learners of VOLL (and other fields of language learning)
Designing and implementing web-based ‘think-quests’ for modern language learning, based upon the principles of problem-based language learning and the general principles of designing WebQuests, as developed by Bernie Dodge.
The principles of a WebQuest were developed by Bernie Dodge. Visit his website to learn more about the didactic backgrounds of a WebQuest.
You will also find some interesting WebQuests for modern languages.
In the Dutch project ‘Talenquest’ we also worked on the development of principles and guidelines to design a good LanguageQuest. Under the link ‘Docenten’ you will find all of the didactic background information in Dutch. Unfortunately there is no translation in English. Therefore we will provide you here with a translation of the most important part: the criteria for a good LanguageQuest.
Bernard Moro's approach to web contents —although he did not realize it when he implemented it— is very close to the concept of webquest. See the examples his trainees have come up with under his guidance.
You need a PC and an internet browser to use a LanguageQuest. You need a web-tool to design one. And last but not least you need a platform to publish your LanguageQuest. This platform can be the WorldWideWeb, the intranet of the school or a digital learning environment like BlackBoard (http://www.blackboard.com) or WebCT (http://www.webct.com).
Several organizations and teachers in the Netherlands work together on the development of WebQuests that are specifically designed for language learning. Therefore these WebQuests are called LanguageQuests (in Dutch: ‘TalenQuests’). Together they developed a website where these LanguageQuests can be published and used. You can visit this site on www.talenquest.nl . Have a look and feel free to try out one of these LanguageQuests with your students, for example Elektroquest (English for electronics and information technology).
Another aim of the project was the development of a set of criteria for selecting a good LanguageQuest and guidelines for developing a good LanguageQuest.
Other interesting sites about WebQuests for language teaching and learning
- French ‘Mission Virtuelles’ at http://www.csduroy.qc.ca/mission/ . If you want to go directly to a nice example of a LanguageQuest click on Concert Bénéfice.
- At http://ardecole.ac-grenoble.fr/english/tice/en-webquests.htm you will find an interesting site about WebQuests and LanguageQuests.
- WebQuests and second languge learning thoughts about the specific difficulties we have using them for second language learning.
What is a LanguageQuest?
A LanguageQuest is a WebQuest for the learning of modern languages. WebQuests are on-line activities where students have to search for information on the internet. They are not supposed to do this by just surfing the internet but they are being directed by a very specifically structured task. A WebQuest can be very short and be completed within one lesson or hour, but can also be more elaborate and take a longer period of time to complete. A WebQuest can be place anywhere on the internet.
Three sets of criteria are important for LanguageQuests:
- the crucial elements that are prescribed by Bernie Dodge for a good WebQuest. You can find them at http://edweb.sdsu.edu/courses/edtec596/about_webquests.html
- a set of criteria that are formulated from the views of communicative modern language teaching. You will find these criteria under Set of extra criteria for WebQuests for language learning (LanguageQuests).
- a set of criteria that cleary mark the difference between a ‘mini-course’ with the use of internet and a real LanguageQuest.
- The task should encourage the use of the target language as instruction language and language in use for the duration of the task and for the end products of the LanguageQuest.
- The material presented in the LanguageQuest should be authentic. The tasks within the LanguageQuest should be functional and realistic.
- The task should be learner-oriented and should therefore be attractive and related to the learner’s reality.
- Students can work on the task in a flexible way. The task offers different routes, media, procedures and ways of collaborating.
- The task should encourage students to exchange information and expertise, preferably in the target language.
Possibilities and constraintsLanguageQuests can offer a great opportunity for teachers/authors/developers to develop web-based materials for task-based language in a structured way according to certain acknowledged quality standards. The constraints are of a technical and organizational kind. It is very important to have an easy and fast connection to the internet, although the tasks within a LanguageQuest need not necessarily be made online of even on the PC. There can be (parts of) tasks that have to be made or done outside school in collaboration with other students or other parties.
Another technical constraint has to do with bandwidth: we would really like to incorporate audio and video in LanguageQuests but as we know that most schools do not have the bandwidth to let great amounts of students work with audio and video over the internet (or prevent it by firewalls) we are very reluctant to develop audio- or video-related tasks.
Subject matter encounteredLanguageQuests can be developed and used for any kind of subject matter.
Learner and teacher rolesThe teacher can be a developer of a LanguageQuest, he/she can search the web for appropriate LanguageQuests and he/she can instruct and assist students in working with a LanguageQuest.
The learner is in the center of the process of learning when working with a LanguageQuest. He/she must plan, do and evaluate the learning process while working on it.
- Creating a European platform LanguageQuests so we can exchange LanguageQuests in as many as possible European languages and comment on each other’s work in order to publish only LanguageQuests that meet our quality standards.
- Linking LanguageQuests to the levels of the European Framework of Reference.
- Develop pilot environments for LanguageQuests with heavy audio and video contents for listening rather than reading on the web.
LanguageQuest can be a great way to enlarge our classrooms for language teaching. The worldwide web offers us a huge amount of authentic language material. The challenges for the future are to ensure the quality of the LanguageQuests offered, to incorporate audio and video and online conferencing into it, to develop platforms to share LanguageQuests and disseminate our experiences.