The Internet:

The World Wide Web (or just the internet for short) has come a long way from its early development in the 60’s by military institutions, in particular the US Pentagon. Just as other technologies have evolved into everyday household items (e.g: televisions, MP3 players, computers), so has the internet. Today, the internet connects almost 2 billion together from across the entire globe (statistics of internet usage and its growth can be found here). Within Oceania and Australia alone, the numbers of internet uses has risen from 7,620,480 in the year 2000 to 21,263,990 only a decade later.

world wide web

Why has the mount of users increased so drastically? The answer lies within the many uses which the internet has to offer. The internet is a source for anything and everything that can be virtually uploaded, including:

  • music
  • videos
  • video games
  • graphics
  • information or how to do’s (on virtually ANYTHING)
Educational Uses:

However, the internet’s most potentially useful feature is that it offers boundless limits of educational information to be shared across the world instantly. With today’s developed culture becoming increasingly more and more technologically dependent and advanced, it is only suitable that education should also follow suit. We as students have already experienced the benefits the Internet has to offer when conducting out research – the simplicity of typing your desired information into a search engine or data base, where it then can be saved or downloaded for later use is a far more desired approach than re-typing information gained from actual books or texts found in libraries.
However, because of the amount of information available to anyone on the Internet, a problem arises where the information posted could not actually be accurate and thus be detrimental to any learning. It is therefore why educators are encouraged (or we future educators are taught) to create online work stations where the teacher can monitor and assign work to their students. Thus, the internet can become an affective ICT tool. ‘Webquests’ and ‘Wikispaces’ are such online work stations created by teachers. As Dianne Ruffles (no date) explains, ‘Webquests or such activities… provide opportunities to motivate both students and teachers to work together collaboratively in learning teams…responding to an engaging task and developing their skills in information and literacy and ICT (p.137).” Therefore by making the students practice their online research skills through by assigning research tasks and being able to monitor them, the Internet becomes a very powerful ICT tool. An example of a one of these online learning activities can be found here.

A look at a Webquest

Cognitive abilities:

Furthermore, not only would these tasks improve student ICT skills, Bernie Dodge (1997) explains on his website that through the use of these tasks,  students improve their comparing, classifying, inducing, deducing, analysing, constructing support and abstraction skills. In addition these Webquests and Wikispaces are beneficial to those students who work better in both groups and individually, as the tasks can be focused on both group and individual work.
Through these ICT tools, the teacher can create tasks that include various texts found on the internt which can be applied to different learning styles (see ICT current trends, Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences) or to different subject areas. Say for music for example, the teacher can construct a Wikispace that encourages a student to better their musical skills by researching and practice certain musical scales. The teacher can post audio clips, musical scripts or tablature  and also video clips like the ones found this website.
Furthermore, interactive scripts or games known as ‘Widgets’ can also be placed in these web tasks making them more engaging (an example of one of these widgets can be found on my wikispace here). Thus differentiation can be achieved by  using this ICT tool.
However the most important aspect of the Webquest or Wikispace, is the way which they are composed. As Ruffles highlights, there is a certain method when constructing one which must include these steps for the students to follow:
  • Introduction – setting the stage for the activities which includes the central question
  • Task – description of the challenge, or activities that the students need to complete
  • Resources – links. clips. resources that you provide to start off student research
  • Process – how the challenges and activities are to be conducted (rules, assigning roles etc)
  • Evaluation or Assessment – a rubric that outlines the outcomes that need to be achieved
  • Conclusion – Final statement, could include both the teacher’s and the students’, including reflections on the tasks
By constructing a template which to follow and by including up to date and reliable websites for the students to work with, the ICT becomes a powerful tool that teaches the students how research, work and gather information on the ever expanding World Wide Web.
References:
Dodge B. (1997). Some Thoughts About WebQuests. Retrieved from http://webquest.sdsu.edu/about_webquests.html
Ruffles D. (Date not known). WebQuests: Tools for Information Literacy, HOTS and ICT. Retrieved from Blaclboard (april 2011)