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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanks To Tom March


Tom March and Bernie Dodge are, in my opinion, the brilliant minds behind using the internet/web for student learning.  They are the inventors of the WebQuest.  Those of us who have ever attempted to use the web for teaching and learning are indebted to their research and contribution to taking a mess which we call the Web, and streamlining it for increased engagement, time on task, and instruction.

When I was completing my Ed.S. degree in Instructional Technology at Valdosta State University, I wanted to do my action research on what I believed was missing from the WebQuest after 10 years of use.  My working title was, "Helping the WebQuest through Puberty: What Needs to be Added to the Online Teaching Model."  The proposals I submitted were denied and tweeked, mainly because there was little (ok, there was none) research on the use of RSS, wikis, blogs, and podcasts for educational use in 2005.  My original premise was that students at the middle school level were either missing the necessary cognitive levels or there were steps missing in the original model of the WebQuest.  My hypothesis was based on March's definition of a "true WebQuest" and the experiences I had in facilitating WebQuests in my classrooms.  I was not allowed to pursue my hypothesis, because there was no research or otherwise empirical evidence already in acceptable publication on which to base my theory.  Blogs were not academically sound.  So I created a rather benign action research study on whether WebQuests led to higher level thinking skills in students.  You can read my research here if you are hard up for reading material.

This week Tom has shared his thoughts on the need to revisit the WebQuest in a Web 2.0 culture.  It is an excellent article.  It is the information I was hoping I could research in my action research project, but was denied, due to the "newness of the tools that have no research basis."  So thank you Tom, for updating how the WebQuest format and process combine instructionally sound theories with a student-centered approach to provide a tuly educational experience for students.

Tom has this fantastic ability to combine theory with practice as well as anyone I have ever read.  I had the honor of a two-day seminar with Tom in Rome, Georgia, USA (Shorter College) in 1997 to learn about this new tool - Filamentality, and the WebQuest, Sampler, Treasure Hunt, Scrapbook, and Hotlist. 

Thank you Tom.  I have already begun to take new notes on the WebQuest, thinking routines, and CEQALL.  These are among the things I was trying to get the opportunity to research.  After I left the classroom for the media center, I let it sit.  Now that I am actively pursuing a classroom position again, Tom has given me that intrinsic motivation to learn more and implement my understanding with future students. 

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At 10:35 PM, Anonymous tmarch said...

Hi Ric,

Thanks for the kind words. I remember you really well - You were the star student at the huge Rome, GA session. I'm doing more things with a couple schools here in New South Wales (following in my sons' footsteps as they go into 7th & 9th grades) so let me know if you see any interesting ways to collaborate. See http://oxleylearning.org




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