WebQuest – Creating a Quest for Learners

man walking in front of a striped wall

I always thought that ‘WebQuest’ was a specific software. I didn’t realize is was more of a structure of an activity. I was glad to find this out though because I had a vague notion of a really outdated looking website being somehow related to a WebQuest. I don’t know where I got that idea.

I really like the structure of a WebQuest. I think its a great way to focus learners on a particular topic and provide them with everything they need to learn about the topic and practice what they’ve learned in one place.

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Computational Thinking – Thinking Like a Computer

deathtostock_quietfrontier-12

Computational Thinking is often talked about through the lens of K-12 education, but it has value for community college students as well.

Many community college students do not have the appropriate technology skills for a post-secondary environment. Many of them have not grown up using technology, or computers, regularly enough they would be considered digital natives. Because of this lack of familiarity, many community college students do not see the power that computers offer and that they themselvesĀ  have the potential to harness that power.

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Backward Design…Have I Found My Answer?

Backward Design: Start at the End

My vague thesis idea, at this point, is to look at online learning, in the form of MOOCs and for-profit online courses, and figure (1) why they are so successful, and (2), how online learning in higher ed can mimic their success. And by success I don’t only mean enrollments, but also student success rates going way up in terms of retention, completion and graduation.

I was reading Pat James’ blog post, Why Our Work as Online Educations Matters, and she began talking about the differences and similarities between face-to-face (f2f) and online classes. She also started talking about the reasons for these similarities and these differences. Her second point, “Changing the method causes a critical use of outcome-based design,” got me thinking. When designing a online class, you can’t just think of how you will asses students’ learning, you also have to think of how they will complete the assessment. And this doesn’t stop at grades and rubrics. For online educators, this means literally how. Can they complete the assessment with the software required of the course? If they use the computers on campus because they can’t afford their own, can they still complete their assignment? If their tech-savviness is not the highest, will this assignment be accessible to them?

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Concept Mapping, Not Planning

concept map about catsI sat down to start putting together my concept map and for my topic I chose my impending wedding. I started with the general questions I needed to figure out and then plugged in some more specific items that needed to be done. After a few minutes though, I remembered the need for prepositions between items. I looked at the list I had and realized this was not what this assignment was for.

A concept map can be used as a planning tool, but for the sake of education, concept maps should be used as a tool for students to process and synthesize complicated content to be sure they understand everything. Creating a concept map of a subject just learned will reveal areas of confusion or misunderstanding.

Students will not find their misunderstandings in simply connecting idea bubbles together, but in determining why two idea bubbles are connected. This where students will not only be able to review what they’ve learned, but also guide their own learning by getting help with areas they need help with. Its interesting to me how one tweak to my idea of a concept map, adding prepositions to the connections, changes the value of the activity all together.

Let’s All Just Calm Down

Coursera has been around for a few years now, but has public higher education learned anything from it? Have we learned anything from the other MOOCs and free online learning resources that have emerged over the past few years?

On a large scale, I don’t think we have.

I read an article this morning about Chicago State University having their lowest enrollments in history this year and also losing state funding. They might not be able to keep their doors open. They talk extensively of budgets and low enrollment. They also mention the undeserved population of students who would be hurt by the University’s closure. But no one seems to be asking why the enrollment numbers are so low. Where have all those students gone instead? To another college? To free online MOOCs?

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