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Technology is omnipresent, touching almost every moment our lives, our societies, our homes. It is a dominant aspect of our work. The Saudi Ministry of Education seeks to integrate technology into Saudi schools. Yet not all schools are provided by technology but the ministry works hard and exerts efforts to link the educational system with technological knowledge-based education. Integrating technology into classroom instruction goes beyond teaching the basic skills of computer and software programs in a separate computer class. valuable tech amalgamation must occur across the curriculum in and out the walls of the school. A successful technology adoption is achieved when it supports curricular purposes. It must endorse four key components of learning: frequent interaction, participation in groups, active engagement , feedback and connection to real-world experts.Â Technology also provides teachers with new teaching styles to assess student understanding by applying multiple means. It also strengths the relationship between teacher and student. Technology helps make teaching and learning more meaningful and fun.
With the ongoing movement of instructional media to digital sources taking place in classrooms around the world, the role of technology instruction increased daily. Technological instructional aids conquering the educational field and enhancing instruction. Instructional technologists and curriculum developers have suggested some valuable, creative approaches about the integration of technology into curriculum and classroom environment. One of those approaches is the WebQuest which involves the development of a technology-driven learning activity that support the construction of skills in content, pedagogy, and technology integration in classroom environment.
A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented approach which depends on internet as a major tool for instruction an learning process. The lesson based on a search for knowledge by exploring the World Wide Web. The model was developed byÂ Bernie Dodge at San Diego State University in February, 1995 with early input from SDSU/Pacific Bell FellowÂ Tom March, theÂ Educational TechnologyÂ staff at San Diego Unified School District. Students investigate, evaluate and learn from online resources. This means it is a classroom-based lesson in which a teacher can choose the lesson length according to the lesson. It can be a short lesson as a single class period or a month-long unit. Halat on his article tilted as " A Good Teaching Technique: WebQuests mentioned those two kinds of WebQuests as were described by their inventor Dodge " the instructional goal of a short-term WebQuest is the acquisition and integration of knowledge. At the end of a short-term WebQuest, lasting one to three class periods, a learner should have gained a significant amount of new information and made sense of it. The instructional goal of a long-term WebQuest, however, is to extend and refine the knowledge. After completing a long-term WebQuest, a learner should have examined a body of knowledge, transformed it in some way, and showed an understanding of the material or knowledge gained by creating any kind of work that others can respond to, online or offline. A long-term WebQuest should be completed between one week and one month in a classroom setting." (Halat, 2008)
A WebQuest is a constructive learning activity , a student-centered and a project-based approach to teaching and learning which engage students to use the web to design a new knowledge. It encourages them to perform their duties in an authentic and accurate way using high levels of thinking and critical skills. They participate in an autonomous and cooperative way. It sometimes require group work. The teacher divide the tasks among students who take on specific roles or perspectives. The task should supports learners creation and innovation and involves problem solving, analysis, synthesis and judgment. It should be of their interests and elevate the desire to accomplish it in and outside the school surroundings. Students should use the information which was preselected and provided by the teacher. They shouldn't spend time for looking and searching about it.
A WebQuest is one of Task Based Learning (TBL) and Content Based Learning (CBL) methodological approaches. A WebQuest typically contains six parts: (a) the introduction-background information about a theme that students will investigate, (b) the achievable and feasible task-a common explanation of what learners are expected to do, (c) information sources provided by the teacher- generally links and websites for students to explore to accomplish the instructional duty, (d) a description of the process- a detailed procedure for learners to follow step by step process in fulfilling the task, (e) evaluation- conditions and rules for evaluating the learners' work , and (f) the conclusion-a a brief description of the project. (Dodge, 1997)
Gülbahar, Madran, R. O., & Kalelioglu, (2010) mention that " The many reasons to use WebQuests include the construction of collaborative activities, the improvement of critical-thinking skills, the enhancement of motivation, the development of social skills, and the chance of concrete, hands-on experience (Leahy & Twomey, 2005)." (Gülbahar, 2010)
Good WebQuests pose an open-ended question. It is related to the constructivism philosophical theory which believes in creation and innovation. There are so many advantages of using WebQuest in the instructional environment: it helps to set a clear structure and effective time management, it motivates students to gain knowledge, it enhance collaboration among students and promote high level of thinking skills. A WebQuest is a student-center approach which gives students their roles to investigate an issue through their view and by their own experiences so they feel of responsibility toward the learning process. Also, it helps students to develop their technology skills as it is the main domain of the new age so they look for useful information rather than searching the net aimlessly. It is a project-based approach which create the creative students who are able to construct their own knowledge and share it with others. On the other hand, some of the disadvantages of the WebQuests that they take a considerable amount of class time as some students are not able to access the Internet at home. Students may get bored of using the net not for entertainment and may lose the enthusiasm to complete the task because it is chosen by their teacher or it is not suitable for their interests or irrelevant. (Pearson, 2012)
There are some challenges of using WebQuests for the teachers. Halat 2008, pointed out some challenges as the lack of access to the internet service can distract the applying of WebQuest in the classroom or at home. Also, teachers should be aware of more time needed to apply it and sometimes it is not available as they have to follow the curriculum time plan during the term. On the other hand, to choose reliable resources and links is an accurate task of the teachers. (Halat, 2008)
A teacher should be skillful in applying the WebQuests effectively in the classroom. There are some suggestions and tips suggested by Lipscomb to implement the WebQuest successfully in the learning and teaching process: teachers should select the WebQuest wisely, estimate students' technology skills, find out prior content understanding and information, evaluate the accessibility of computers, have a backup preparation, take full advantage of class time on the computer, illuminate the roles of students, should be ready to continue working even when computer specified time finished, clarify the assessment to students, should be excited about the potentials and motivated toward using the WebQuests. (Strickland, 2005)
This article, I explore the effectiveness of using the WebQuests to plan and enhance instruction, how applying it improve classroom interactions. The main goal is to express how to integrate and use multiple tasks throughout WebQuest lesson to facilitate the learning process and develop students' achievement.
More than one kind of WebQuests:
WebQuests were developed since they were introduced in 1995. The real expansion of WebQuests was after 1992 as being an appealing tool for many educators. As a result of the technological explosion in the educational field, many existing WebQuests are regarded as old fashioned. Nowadays, we have many forms of WebQuests as a collaborative, user-centered and interactive approach which comply with current trends and changes. Web 2.0 sites are new productions of WebQuest which are used by instructors to enhance learning. Some examples of Web 2.0 are social networking Facebook, Myspace and Twitter. Also, video and photo sharing sites as Youtube, and Flickrâ€¦etc. As Web 2.0 has become a very important part of our daily life, the possibilities of using it in education are nearly infinite. Kurt on his research paper WebQuests and Web 2.0 Screen Design mentioned that " Web 2.0 has brought new web design trends. These new trends include, but are not limited to: simplicity, central layout, bigger texts, simple navigation, solid distinct areas, strong colors and fewer columns" (Kurt, 2010) Teachers and educators can create WebQuests by using Web 2.0 style to overcome the obstacles of the negative effect on students' motivations when using the traditional WebQuests. In Kurt's opinion WebQuest activities based on Web 2.0 would be more effective because students are more familiar with it than the traditional ones. The results of applying Web 2.0 style WebQuests indicated that learners became more attentive to the WebQuest because it looked of high quality and equivalent to the websites they used frequently.
Another type of the interactive WebQuests is "Web Macerasi". Web Macerasi was created to develop the traditional WebQuests as a result of technology progress. It guides the students' project s and provide an interactive environment in order to manage the quests. Also, it helps both teachers and students to develop and design WebQuests in a new form. Teachers can create WebQuests, update existing WebQuests, evaluate the performance of students who enrolled in any WebQuests, and access other, previously published WebQuests. The conductors of the research titled as Development and Evaluation of an Interactive WebQuest Environment: "Web Macerasi" pointed out that the purpose of the study was to develop a new system of WebQuest system to be available for using in different courses and to evaluate its results. The study resulted positively. The design, navigation, grammar, and technical problems adequate were considered by the Participants effectively. The content and the steps of WebQuest projects were assessed by Participants positively. Applying web-based system projects provide the learners with learning-by-doing activities. Also, project-based teaching supported by Internet and web technologies make the academic staff and objective assessment more organized and realized. (Gülbahar, Madran, & Kalelioglu, 2010)
Fortunately, while searching about WebQuests studies, a related one about using a new kind of WebQuests was found titled as VirtualQuests: Dialogic Language Learning with 3D Virtual Worlds conducted by Vickers. The article dealt with the integration of 3D virtual worlds into WebQuests can provide a more investigative approach to language learning with engaging learners in social climate and creative activities. This model for experimental learning leads the teacher to have a facilitator role and to be more attentive on students' responses. Visual Quests offer direction to the virtual world experiences for WebQuest-based language classes where students can visit related locations online and meet with others for real-time (voice or text) conversations. Students can document these virtual world explorations and share different kinds of media. (Vickers, 2010)
WebQuest in teachers' pre-service training:
WebQuest create a collaborative learning atmosphere that represent the constructivism approach of learning because it engages students successfully in creating a valuable learning process. Leahy and Twomey in their research paper titled as Using web design with pre-service teachers as a means of creating a collaborative learning environment stated that the experimental group showed a good sense toward the collaboration work in performing their WebQuest task. Students told that they had worked in a constructive environment for the first time. It was a challenge to their concepts and understanding of their learning styles. That group was for the first time to work and grade cooperatively in friendship groupings. Friendship groupings were a flourishing method to overcome the barriers may be faced by selecting groups randomly. The time management was successfully adjusted to that group and they almost finished their tasks in the specific time. 90% of pre-service teachers say that they plan to use WebQuest in their future teaching. This indicates that embracing technology into instruction is valuable and effective. It helps teachers to create their collaborative learning environment successfully. The researchers call for the implementation of WebQuest engaging students in collaborative activities in group work. (Leahy & Twomey, 2005)
In the same field of teachers' training, WebQuest proved it validity in enriching the learning environment. Nowadays, Internet is a remarkable source for educational technology. Allan & Street in their research paper The quest for deeper learning: an investigation into the impact of a knowledge pooling WebQuest in primary initial teacher training mentioned that their study showed that WebQuest can be an effectual tool of advocating students to share knowledge in higher lever learning of an initial teacher training module. They stated that "it seems that there is a fine balance between WebQuest activities that do encourage higher-order learning, and WebQuest activities that prompt surface learning for many students." They said that teachers should concern about planning the best educational practices when using the WebQuest because it may fail to work effectively if they plan it weakly. (Allan & Street, 2007)
A WebQuest-based instruction including using of technology and the Internet can help students defeat their troubles with some courses specially the hard one and enhance their motivation in teaching and learning processes. This supports the argument of Erdogan Halat who claimed that technology is able to improve the students' performance and motivation in learning mathematics on his research paper titled as The effects of designing WebQuests on the motivation of pre-service elementary school teachers. On that paper, Halat revealed that research showed students suffer from difficulties in learning mathematics so it affects their performance and that cause declined motivation towards Mathematics lessons. The study acknowledged that designing WebQuests had positive effect on the pre-service elementary school teachers' motivation towards the mathematics course. It gave them a chance to practise their knowledge of mathematics in various ways. It helps them realizing how to integrate technology to improve their students' achievement and how effective is WebQuest in group works in constructing knowledge. The results of his study opposed to those reports claiming there is a decline in students' motivation towards mathematics courses. They showed also that teachers believed of the effectiveness of real-life examples or activities as being major motivating factors in a mathematics classroom. (Halat, Erdogan, 2008)
A relatively research paper concerning the incorporation of WebQuests in pre-service teacher education was conducted by P. Lewis and Litchfield to examine self-regulated learning into undergraduate educational technology course. The results of the study which titled as Effects of self-regulated learning strategies on pre-service teachers in an educational technology course weren't in line with previous studies mentioned above because it didn't affirm the hypotheses which indicated significant differences between the groups of the study. However, the Survey Only Group scored extensively higher than the WebQuest group on the time and study environment scale. This important differentiation recommended improved self-regulation on setting up time to study and choosing the appropriate study environment for the Survey Group. This also imply that it is not compulsory for students to complete a lesson (such as a WebQuest) on SRL to increase self-regulation on time and study environment. (Lewis & Litchfield, 2011)
WebQuest at Different Educational Stages:
A WebQuest can be use in all educational stages from primary school into the higher studies. it can be used for all kinds of skills and in all kinds of courses of the instructional process. It helps students to get more attention and concerns for the instructional event. It envisions the student as an active member in the learning process. Ikpeze & Boyd in their research paper titled as Web-based inquiry learning: Facilitating thoughtful literacy with WebQuests, pointed out that a WebQuest can alleviate thoughtful literacy when selecting, organizing and delivering the task carefully. They applied their study onto elementary school students. Several tasks supplied chances for cooperation, attentive connections, and critical thinking. They stated that "such tasks increased students' engagement and motivation as well as built search, retrieval, multimedia, and hypertext reading skills". A WebQuest encourages students to participate in different kinds of activities and to increase challenging for more instruction. (Ikpeze & Boyd, 2007)
WebQuests have a positive effect of students' acquisition of the language. A study to test the vital role of WebQuest on students' learning was conducted titled as WebQuests in the English classroom: how do they affect student learning? by Kari Lee Siko. It was applied in two ninth-grade classrooms to find out if learners learned about poetry through completion of a WebQuest. Also, it was purposed to estimate the efficacy of WebQuests to when are used by the teachers as a tool of instructional technology in the classroom participates in enhancing students' learning. the results showed that WebQuests were helpful and useful in creating a cooperative learning climate. Students reported that the new instructional method of integrating technology into learning poetry made it more interesting and easier to learn than using the traditional methods. (Siko, 2008)
Another study related to the field of integrating WebQuest in language learning was conducted in a Saudi female school to examine the validity of WebQuest to improve writing skills for students as a second language of English. The study which titled as A preliminary study of the effect of WebQuests on the writing performance of Saudi female EFL elementary school students resulted that improvement in writing skills was measured positively to the benefit of the experimental group. The study called for more integration of WebQuests in teaching because they support classroom interaction and elevate students' motivation to learning comparing with traditional methods. It shed out the light about the benefits of the consequences of applying WebQuests in the classroom instruction and the effect of electronic journals to develop the students' writing skills by incorporating both programs together. The improvement wasn't limited to the writing sills only but it exceed that to the reading abilities and linguistic knowledge by using digital storybooks and CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) strategies with other kinds of multimedia. (Fadda, Almasri, & ALShumaimeri, 2011)
Concerning the same purpose of improving students' achievement by using WebQuests in a male Saudi school , I gripped a study titled as THE EFFECTS OF USING WEBQUESTS ON READING COMPREHENSION PERFORMANCE OF SAUDI EFL STUDENTS. It called for using the WebQuests to develop the reading comprehension skills of a second language learners. Learners exposed several online links and resources to collect information about specific theme. The results showed an observed exceeding in achievement to the benefit of the experimental group. The post test results indicated a clear significant differences compared with pretest scores. The study pointed that WebQuests have positive potentials to develop reading comprehension skills of students. Also, it implemented that students should receive good training in order to use it efficiently. (Alshumaimeri & Almasri, 2012)
It is very crucial that teachers be creative and innovated in applying WebQuests in the classroom environment as a technological and instructional tool. A relatively study with the above one concerning incorporating of WebQuests to teach English as a second language in the day-to-day school activities integrated with principles of Anchored Instruction. The study titled as Integrating a WebQuest in the Primary School Curriculum Using Anchored Instruction: Effect on Learning Outcomes concluded that the learning process was positively improved by using the WebQuests as the posttest results showed and integrating it with principles of Anchored Instruction participated in getting remarkable outcomes compared by using the traditional WebQuests. The study stressed that using WebQuests in the classroom is not an easy thing. It requires that the teacher should experience the integration of WebQuests in order to organize and plan the learning process. It needs also that both students and teachers know the computer skills in order to deal with them professionally. (Segers, Droop, & Verhoeven, 2010)
In the oral and written communication, WebQuest can be a good model for assisting teachers of foreign languages in the classrooms' synchronous and asynchronous communication. It is related to the social constructivist learning approach which develops the social communications by cooperative groups. A relatively research has been carried out on the effect of WebQuests in classroom communication titled Using WebQuests for oral communication in English as a foreign language for Tourism Studies. It is a unique study in the oral use of WebQuest for professional purposes of foreign languages. Laborda 2009 , stated that the application of WebQuest when it is associated with students' professional needs resulted in a very successful effect and it helped students to improve both their language development and cooperative work. He pointed out that although the valuable effect of WebQuests as a teaching and learning tool for professional purposes in English language, it shouldn't be used as a main tool of teaching and learning processes. This study showed that integrating WebQuest in tourism instruction was successful and benefited students in improving their language skills as their speaking became more fluency, increasing their professional vocabulary, their ability to use a language in their work was improved, their critical thinking in choosing Internet resources was developed, their analyzing and autonomous thinking was enhanced. Their writing , listening and reading skills were more productive. The types of activities used by WebQuest reinforced the social interaction of students and helped them to restructure their knowledge and communicative competence. (Laborda, 2009)
On the contrary hand, a research paper titled as Using WebQuests to Teach Content: Comparing Instructional Strategies was conducted to test the effectiveness of WebQuests in teaching content. Janet Strickland pointed out that the significant difference wasn't to the benefit of the experimental group. Oppositely, the results indicated that the control group which completed the poster activity scored highly than the experimental group which complemented the WebQuests activity. The researcher related the reasons of the results to the nature of the topic itself. The students experienced using applying a WebQuest activity before in a geography lesson about Texas and the results were impressed and successful. This study was about the Texas Revolution which seemed to be hard for the learners because it was related to a chronicle events so the experimental group didn't seem to be very motivated toward the topic because it was not related to their interests as youngers of the seventh grade students. On his opinion, motivation toward learning is very important to gain knowledge. (Strickland, 2005)
A WebQuest for students with learning disabilities & Special Education Students:
Student with learning disabilities (LD) have difficulty in specific manner, usually caused by unknown factors. They suffer from significant learning problems in the academic field. Students with learning disabilities mostly confused when navigating WebQuests by complex sentences, hard vocabulary, and the executive structure of a typical Web site although WebQuests may include specific Web sites identified for an instructional activity. Because most WebQuests are developed for distinctive students, they can be cumbrous and unapproachable for students with LD. Due to the difficult understanding and academic troubles as poor reading and study skills that characterize many of these students, alternative strategies to manage the overpowering amount of detail found in their textbooks are recommended.
WebQuest is a tool which is able to motivate students with learning disabilities because it has a unique potential to provide them with resources with which to work. The internet is a vast area of searching to get updated information which helps them to accomplish their instructional tasks. Students with learning disabilities endure problems with using textbooks but by using WebQuest these difficulties are mostly overcome as they help them to explore the internet more easily their knowledge more easily. There are limitations in using WebQuests with students of learning disabilities. Some WebQuests are overloaded with information which make it difficult for these students to identify the key information to fulfill their task. Thus, Web sites must be carefully chosen for inclusion in a WebQuest. As a solution to the cluttered information in the WebQuests, educators have to provide supplemental materials as handouts or embedded hypertext links in the WebQuest. Also, teachers can adapt many software to enhance the learning process in the classroom environment as Screen reader software, acquire an audio recording of a text. In addition, WebQuests must be written clearly so that students with LD will understand the assigned task. (Skylar, Higgins, & Boone, 2007)
On the other hand, special education is created for special children suffering from special needs. Constructivist learning supported special education by incorporating technology in their instructional programs to make them more active in identifying their own learning goals. Technology provides them with opportunities to put self-generated learning questions into context including problem-based learning. Kleemans, Segers, Droop and Wentink conducted a research paper to investigate the effect of WebQuest on special education students. The study which titled as WebQuests in special primary education: Learning in a web-based environment showed that how internet helped students in Special education to gain learning by using two types of WebQuests: the well-defined and ill-defined ones. The answer to the predefined question is not clear when doing an ill-defined task. It also does not have only one accurate answer. The solution-finding process can pursue many paths and therefore direct to many answers. The ill-defined tasks thus, relates to a constructivist approach. In contrast, a well-defined task is provided by the entire answer process to the student. A student receives is precise, definite and clearly information. A well-defined tasks thus, seem more related to an instructivist approach. This research has special significant because it is directed to
Special education students as they usually receive well structured teaching material and particularly based on sub-skilled learning. The results of this study shed out the light toward a poorly-structured learning environment versus a well-structured one to create the highest learning potential by using two kinds of internet-based activities well-defined and ill-defined WebQuests. Well-defined tasks, didn't require deeper understanding of the texts because the learners only had to search for the correct information in the text, regardless the construction of knowledge. It didn't imply many higher-order thinking skills and therefore many learners in the well-defined tasks were not capable to correlate their knowledge with the world around them. Studies showed that learning by using ill-defined WebQuests increased the desire for learning because it focused on seeking the information and learners were more successful in finding the correct information in contrast with learners who used the well-defined WebQuests. However, this study is in line with previous studies and resulted that the learning was higher for the learners who performed the ill-defined approach. It included that using WebQuest has a positive outcome on the learning processes of children in special primary education. Learners in this special population proved have the capability to learn and work on the Internet when they are provided by a layer of structure.
The technology applications are being used widely nowadays in the classroom environment. Exploring the literature review shows that integrating the WebQuests in the learning process has it positive impact on students' achievement. The lack training programs in Saudi Arabia of how to integrate technology into education plays a great role of teachers' ignorance of the basic skills of dealing with technology in the proper way. WebQuests can participate greatly in acquiring knowledge in an interactive way. They help students to construct their information by adopting high level of thinking skills. Researches in this field are rarely found because of the gap between teachers and technology. Schools need to be provided with educational technology which help teachers and learners to adapt it for enhancing instruction. More research is required to investigate the effectiveness of WebQuests in the instructional process as inquiry-based approach.