WebQuest update

Among the components of the 2011 & 2012 offers of the course that I thought I wanted to retain for 2013, albeit with some changes, the WebQuest seemed to be a clear keeper. It models the use of a tried and tested method of making ICT integral to student-centred learning and teaching in the course. Based on feedback from students in 2012 it appears to have worked well as a way of exposing some issues that arise around technologies that trigger a variety of responses based on differing values, and it raised awareness about a technological issue that is likely to affect the lives of many students in the course and about which many of them, by their own account, had very limited knowledge before working through the WebQuest, which addressed several of the course objectives as revised for the 2013 offer: 

  • Demonstrate understanding of technology as a human activity
  • Demonstrate knowledge and skills relevant to the content of technology education
  • Demonstrate understanding of how ICT can be integrated to enhance learning in technology education
  • Demonstrate knowledge of course content using appropriate modes and conventions of expression with attention to spelling, grammar, punctuation and bibliographic referencing.

In marking student submissions in 2012 it became apparent that some of the instructions about the process and what was required for submission might have been clearer. Some students struggled to address the marking criteria within the 200 word limit for each of the 3 response segments. The responses had been deliberately specified as short in order to encourage students to focus on the key ideas and to limit the volume of reading and writing necessary for them to engage with the discussion forums. Short responses were also expected to assist the markers. 

Thus the work required to tidy up the WebQuest was relatively simple – clarify the instructions to assist students through the process, and simplify and clarify the marking criteria to improve the reliability of the activity as a method of assessing learning against the objectives. Checking and updating of links to online resources provided in the WebQuest was also required but that part of the renovation would be best done just before the start of the 2013 offer so that resources would be as up to date as possible. I also wanted to ensure that the WebQuest would display in a readable fashion on any device from a desktop computer to a smartphone so some work on the HTML and CSS might be required.

There had been some comments about students suggesting that verification by screenshot ought not be necessary for students attending class on campus and participating in discussion there. Although there is some validity in that comment, I was also aware that many students had commented in their assessment submissions that this was the first time they had learned how to grab screenshots and they thought it was a useful skill. On that basis I decided to retain that requirement as part of the effort to build and reinforce useful ICT skills.

My memories of where students appeared to have difficulty with the process and with the marking criteria were reasonably fresh so it was a relatively simple matter to work through the sections of the WebQuest making adjustments to address the known issues. Whether those will cause different issues will be revealed when the activity runs again in 2013. In the meantime the WebQuest content is tidied up, saving last minute checks to links just before semester begins. 

The structure of the WebQuest is based on that promoted by Bernie Dodge on his original WebQuest site. I built the pages in DreamWeaver with a simple stylesheet to handle the presentation. When I tweaked the site in 2012 I was thinking about mobile and included some media queries to deal with different screen sites. Changing page width in browsers on my iMac produced the expected adjustments to presentation, including rearrangement of navigation elements, but when I checked the updated site on my iPhone it preferred to present a ‘zoomed’ version with the full-size site in miniature. That was workable with ‘pinching’ but not what I wanted so I dug around my personal site and borrowed the ‘viewport’ code I’ve been using there. A few more tweaks to the media queries got that working well enough for now – more changes may follow when I have time and more knowledge – and opportunity to test on more devices. The tables that I used for the marking guide had multiple columns that did not squeeze down well for display in readable text on a small screen. Rather than try to replicate a previous effort to reformat a wide table of research supervision, I opted to rework the table into a vertical format.

The revised CSG WebQuest is now pretty much ready for use in 2013. It will be necessary to check and update links to resources and integrate it into the Moodle space for the course before the semester begins but, unless I have some brilliant idea for change, it is otherwise done.