ICT Cognitive Tools…The WebQuest

24 03 2011

From reading this blog, it would have been very clear to you all readers that technology is something that can be used in a range of ways in the classroom. Interactive whiteboards, making mind maps through Inspiration, flip charts and the list just keeps growing. These processes are all being used in the classroom to enhance the creativity of a lesson and are called cognitive tools.

The purpose of a cognitive tool is that it “helps learners with complex cognitive learning activities and  critical thinking. These tools are learner controlled. They construct their knowledge themselves using the tools rather than memorizing knowledge” (e-learning-reviews, n.d.).

Two examples of cognitive tools are WebQuests and Wikis. “A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the internet, optionally supplemented with videoconferencing. There are at least two levels of WebQuests that should be distinguished from one another” (Dodge, 2005)

The WebQuest and other conducts of technology are effective processes to implement the coaching of ICT into the curriculum as Dianne Ruffles (n.d.) has noted. If all conducts of technology are wisely organized into a lesson, they can be of great benefit to all students and  advance their thinking skills that are challenged by their teachers. The central point of this is that the lesson is student-oriented from a pedagogical approach and students are able to structure their learning appropriately.

When doing a WebQuest activity, the teacher organizes some objective and exciting activities that students can demonstrate with the help of ICT and the Internet for their research methods. These lessons or tasks are normally created to be completed over a time frame between 2-3 lessons.

Ruffles (n.d.) believes that WebQuest:

  • creates a collective and collaborative environment;
  • is an interesting and exciting process of learning;
  • gives curriculum leadership with librarians;
  • and gives students the opportunity to analyze and evaluate information which is simply more than just being spoon fed by the teacher.

We don’t really know what a WebQuest is? We can find out by surfing Bernie Dodge’s (1995) website http://webquest.sdsu.edu/about_webquests.html which states the following:

  1. An INTRODUCTION that outlines the processes and gives a basic general ideas of information
  2. A TASK that is doable and interesting.
  3. A set of INFORMATION SOURCES needed to complete the task. Many (though not necessarily all) of the resources are embedded in the WebQuest document itself as anchors pointing to information on the World Wide Web. Information sources might include web documents, experts available via e-mail or realtime conferencing, searchable databases on the net, and books and other documents physically available in the learner’s setting. Because pointers to resources are included, the learner is not left to wander through webspace completely adrift.
  4. A description of the PROCESS the learners should go through in accomplishing the task. The process should be broken out into clearly described steps.
  5. Some GUIDANCE on how to organize the information acquired. This can take the form of guiding questions, or directions to complete organizational frameworks such as timelines, concept maps, or cause-and-effect diagrams as described by Marzano (1988, 1992) and Clarke (1990).
  6. A CONCLUSION that brings closure to the quest, reminds the learners about what they’ve learned, and perhaps encourages them to extend the experience into other domains.

An example of a WebQuest Activity may be to pay attention to a podcast and respond. The following podcast is an online story of Peter Rabbit Plays a Joke by Thornton Burgess. Students can listen carefully and comprehend any questions about this audio file.


Peter Rabbit Plays a Joke by Thornton Burgess



In my opinion, the idea of implementing a WebQuest in a lesson is a fantastic idea.  If only this tool had been released when I was in school. The WebQuest is just a really great tool and it has a number of advantages on why it is used in the classroom. Firstly, as Dodge and Ruffles have noted is that the WebQuest keeps the learner immersed in their work that that they are accomplishing.

The WebQuest keeps the students interested by the interactivity of the tasks. Instead of just sitting down in a classroom being spoon fed and note taking for the satisfaction that a student participated in class, they are able to assimilate this content into their understanding of the topic.

Students can critically question their work, analyze it and then probably question it some more. At the end of this research task, students have not only familiarized themselves with the content, but also raised opinions and debates upon it. In other words, the students have critically analyzed their work.

In the 21st century, teachers need to be aware of these digital technologies so that it is not only easy for them to engage the students in their lesson but also make their work easier. We have already discussed digital natives  and a WebQuest is a good starting point to awaken the mind of a digital native. With this kind of technology, natives are able to multitask and open many tabs in an internet browser at once and work out this technology that they are familiar with.


elearning-reviews (n.d.) Cognitive Tools. Available online at http://www.elearning-reviews.org/topics/technology/cognitive-tools/

Dodge, G. (2005) Some Thoughts About WebQuests. Available online at http://webquest.sdsu.edu/about_webquests.html

Ruffles, D. (n.d.) WebQuests: Tools For Information Literacy, Hots and ICT.


Digital Natives VERSUS Digital Immigrants: The Great Debate

22 03 2011

When we are talking about digital natives and digital immigrants we are not talking about the Australian immigration policy, rather we are talking about ICT.

Without a doubt, digital technology has revolutionized to the next level. It has taken rapid progress in the minds of people all around the world and it is a new catalyst for people to think about what their future holds for them. The great debate consists of either being a digital citizen in this digital age or attempting to fight a battle with the new revolution of technology – IE the digital immigrant.

The debate on digital immigrants and digital natives started out in a reasonable manner as explained. The revolution of technology has rapidly progressed like an overnight sleep. In this 21st century of 2011, the digital revolution is everywhere we look around. We no longer go and record our music or go to the music stores…we now have revolutionized to iTunes for that. Also, we don’t send post through a postage office or even pick up a long distance phone call…because we now have countless methods to reach out and connect to the world such as by e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, instant messaging, text messaging which can be accessed on air and on the ground. Currently, we don’t leave the house to buy our groceries, instead the groceries come to us with just a small click of a button, in other words, our groceries can be ordered online and delivered to our door. The global world is now a different place for those who have not yet picked up or even attempted the digital technologies, you are either part of the world or just not connected.

Those people that were born between 1980 and 1994 are those people that Prensky (2001) describes as ‘digital natives’ because they have a great reliance and presumption on the revolutionized digital technologies. “They are described as living lives immersed in technology, surrounded by and using computers, video games, digital music players, video cameras, cell phones, and all the other toys and tools of  the digital age” (Bennet, Maton & Kervin, 2005). These technologies and competencies is what sets the digital natives apart from their ancestral generations.

The ancestral generations are in digital terms called the ‘digital immigrants’. Marc Prensky (2001) believes that those who were not born into the world with digital technology and have later discovered it and adopted it to their daily lives are called the ‘digital immigrants’. They are basically just the followers of the digital natives.

Obviously, the natives are featured as the young generation of ICT and the immigrants the older generation of digital technology. The language dimensions of technology are fluent for the natives however, the immigrants still have the accent of their past generation.


As shown in the video above, the classroom is the space where the digital natives interact with the digital immigrants. The classroom is an environment where the students’ abilities are catered for. I think teachers who are not making full use of technology in the classroom from fear, are by all means placing limits on their students’ learning capabilities.

Personally, I think the students of today are able to use computers and technology to their benefit to create meaning and understanding. In addition to this they are also able to multitask when using technology such as twittering as well as completing an assignment. Student’s can now draw on their creative mind by not only using butcher’s paper but rather drawing on a screen and capturing their imagination widely. To use videos, or play online games via the interactive whiteboard, students are able to remain interested and have increased attention spans in the classroom.

The use of information technology caters for the wide range of intellectual abilities. For instance, visual and musical learners are supported through the interactivity of the whiteboard with much more ease and interest then they experienced before with blackboards and chalk. No matter what the intellectual ability is, technology has catered for it and increased that learning ability more than before.

The importance of change is required in the education system but it is occurring at a slow rate. New teachers are entering the workforce and bringing along their native citizenship of technology and its demands.

Digital natives think very differently if they are compared with their ancestral generation and there is explicit evidence to prove this. When they are being taught in the classroom, they have trendy new demands for the process by which their learning takes place. Personally I think this is not a negative of school, in fact, it shows teachers should consider changing the way lessons are organized by implementing ICT into their lessons but not to the entire lesson itself. In addition, ICT should not be implemented throughout daily lessons but where it has a requirement such as in research, group work and presentations.

In my opinion, I recognize Prensky’s view. As teachers, we need to move forward and adapt the new skills that the digital revolution is bringing towards us and prepare for the upcoming students for their changing education system. If teachers do not adapt the new technology, they will certainly be left behind in the rapid progression of technology in the teaching workforce. However, teachers should not rely totally on technology as their main material in the classroom. Technology has certainly taken rapid progress but fighting and keeping up with it is a loosing battle.


Bennett, S., Maton, K., & Kervin, L. (2008) “The ‘digital natuves’ debate: A critical review of the evidence” in British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(5). doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2007.0079.x

Prensky, M. (2001) “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants” in On the Horizon, 9(4). MCB University Press.

ICT Current Trends – The IWB

12 03 2011

From using pen and paper, to chalk and the blackboard, and finally to the interactive whiteboard, the progress of presentational methods in the classroom has taken rapid progress in developing effective methods for teaching school lessons. The school staff, school community and educational organizations have taken full use of interactive whiteboards in the classroom but there are also an equal number of people in the education system who have not yet experienced this new trend of educational technology.

A typical interactive whiteboard lesson, presentation or flip chart are presented by the teacher in a similar way to how a Power point or a Keynote is used in the classroom. However as Gage (2006) has noted, the interactive whiteboard caters for the potential need of teachers to coach students in a range ‘of teaching styles, benefiting all types of learners”.

To cater for the multiple intelligences in the classroom, teachers are able to target these differences through the application of ICT and interactive whiteboards. For example, musical learners are able to learn through the use of videos and music which can be added into a Flip chart lesson and thus they can learn effectively and take part in classroom discussions in an enthusiastic way as their learning style are being catered for. Also, it is known that the size of the interactive whiteboard screen gives students more opportunity to keep their attention spans for longer than normal during a lesson.

Correspondingly, a research lesson consisting of the use of computers either in groups or individually can allow students to regain their connection to researching and the necessary topic they are studying.


The purpose of an interactive whiteboard is to increase the effectiveness of a lesson for students and increase their participation in their learning. However, how interactive can these interactive whiteboards really be?

Through the pedagogy of using interactive whiteboards, we are able to find out how the multiple intelligences are catered for. It is not necessary that all students will be able to work with an interactive whiteboard, they may prefer the traditional ways of taking notes and learning or may even prefer collective discussions. In my opinion, teachers should always be mindful before preparing their lessons and implementing an interactive whiteboard activity into them.

Personally, I think an interactive whiteboard should not be the core material of teaching a lesson, rather it should be a support for teaching whether it would be a presentation, video or flip chart. In other words, ICT and interactive whiteboards should not be centered around the coaching of a lesson, rather they should be used to reinforce what the teacher has previously taught to the students in regards to a particular topic.

Independently, I feel that teachers should have a perfect understanding of ICT and the purpose of interactive whiteboards. Otherwise, a lesson will not really be effective for the students and will be a great risk to their future in regards to their participation in ICT and overall learning manner.

Overall, technology should NOT be overused in the classroom. ICT should be used where it is 100% necessary and it is directly connected to a particular topic. When ICT is used interactively and in an appropriate manner, only then does it becomes a fantastic intellectual tool in the classroom. I think the classroom can be quite easily transformed by the use of ICT and interactive whiteboards. Also, it gives students different experiences and gives more broader thinking skills to improve their creativity. ICT and interactive whiteboards are great for experienced teachers, however new teachers will first need to consider the traditional ways and slowly move up the ladder with using ICT and interactive whiteboards.


Gage, J. (2006). How to use and Interactive Whiteboard really effectively in your secondary classroom. London: David Fulton Publishers.

Tolley, R.J., (n.d.) Notes on the use of IWSs in Schools. Available at http://www.maximise-ict.co.uk/IWBs.pdf