Monday, 30 January 2012

WebQuest -- A task design assistant

WebQuest: a practice of task-based learning theory !

What is WebQuest ?
''A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented activity in which most of  the information used by learners is drawn from the Web. WebQuests are designed to used learners' time well, to focus on using information rather than looking for it, and to support learners' thinking at the levels of analysis, synthesis and evaluation.'' --Bernie Dodge
Here is a short tutorial vedio for you to have a quick overview of creating a Webquest. (
Try to create one by yourself at QuestGarden (

The reasons for choosing WebQuest for ELT
  • WebQuest is a practice and materialisation of task-based learning approach.
The students can learn English when using it as a communication and negotiation language. When they are engaged in the task in WebQuest, there would not a teacher judging the accuracy of their speaking, and they can forget about the the embarrassment and anxiety of using a foreign language.

Further, to feel that their English language can express their thoughts and points of view in the group can be encouraging and motivating!
  • WebQuest offers a chance for the students to practise their higher level of thinking skills: analysis, synthesis and evaluation.
To complete a WebQuest task, the students are required to analyse the research question, evaluate and critically pick up the useful information from the massive information 'reservior' in the internet, and synthesis them into a logical and coherent piece of work! These are all the basic thinking skills they need to equip with.
  • The WebQuest making websites (e.g. QuestGarden) offer the templete for the teachers when creating a WebQuset task, thus making the creation process easier and quicker.

An example of WebQest template
  • Filter the information
In a WebQuest task, the teachers can provide the students with many concerning resources, which not only saves the learners' time, but also in some way, filters the information. It is specially important for young learners, since they are not intelligently mature enough to keep themselve from the wrong and bad information in the internet.

  • Time-consuming
Although there's templates provided for the ease of creation, it still takes at least 2-4 hours to make a good WebQuest. Therefore, the busy teacher may not want to spent so much time on it.
  • Prevent the students becoming a fully independent thinker and 'researcher'
It is mentioned that the information can be filterd in some way, because many web resources are provided by the teachers. However, from another perspective, the students can be too dependent on the resources offered by teachers, thus lose the opportunity of searching for the useful websites and information by themselves.

Further, it may reduce the creativity and diversity of the students' work, since they are using the same sources.

Suggestions for teachers
  • The teachers are suggested to use WebQuest in a task-based class as a goup work. 
  • The contents of WebQuest can cover speaking, listening, writing, and reading, etc. It's all up to the teachers' design.
  • The target students of WebQuest task should be digitally literate, and the language proficiency should be intermediate or above.
  • While doing a WebQuest task, other ICT tools such as Wallwisher, MyBrainshark, ect. can be combined together.
The following are some examples of WebQuests:
This is a link to the breif WebQuest design I did with my university colleage:

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


Wallwisher? Wish to stick a note on the wall?

What is Wallwisher?

Wallwisher ( is a free Web 2.0 tool. As indicated by its name, it allows users to build a colorful 'wall' of a given topic, and anyone who get access to the wall can 'stick notes' on it. You can share a text, website, an image and even a vedio with Wallwisher notes!

Here is a tutorial vedio to help you quickly learn how to use Wallwisher.

The reasons for choosing Wallwisher for ELT?
  • Wallwisher is free and easy to use.
  • The wall built is colorful, eye-catching and can be edited, thus motivating for students, the young learners in particular.
  • The employment of Wallwisher in ELT classroom is a practical materialisation of the learning theory of constructivism, since every learner has an opportunity to contribute to the knowledge, share the learning resources with peer students and teachers, etc. 
  • The sharing function is powerful and cater well for the users' needs.

                           A demo wall (
  • It can be used both in and outside of the class, making e-collaboration and e-learning more easily.
  • To use Wallwisher as the sharing and discussion platform in the class requires a well-equipped modern classroom with internet access and one computer for each student, or at least one computer for each group.
  • To show the name of the notes' owner,  Wallwisher requires the users to regester with a valid email address, which may annoy some people who are conservative to reveal personal information.
  • The wall can possibly be completely messed up when too many people post their notes, and it is really hard to orgnise the messy notes again.
Suggestions for teachers
  • Using Wallwisher in a speaking class-- A story telling activity
The teacher can randomly post different story elements (such as the people, place, event, time, etc. ) on the wall, and ask the students to create their own interesting story with these elements as a group.
  • Using Wallwisher in a reading class -- Put the disorganised reading materials in the right order
The teacher is suggested to disorganise a reading material, stick different parts randomly, and ask the students to put them in the right order -- it is a very good reading activity aimed at training the studentst the capability of activating their own schemata and making prediction as well as the logical thinking style when doing the reading activity.
  • Using Wallwisher in the writing class -- An ice-breaking or brainstorm tool
As a warming-up activity in the writing class, the teacher can organise the students to brainstorm the ideas for their topic of writing task.
  •  Using Wallwisher as the discussion board in and outside of the class
When doing a group task, it is a very smart choice to use Wallwisher as the disscussion platform. The students can follow each other's working progress, share the ideas and resources, and contribute to each other's work.