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Webquests - an experiment
by James Frith
- 4


I shall divide my analysis of the outcomes into two parts. Firstly I shall evaluate the lesson in terms of effectiveness of procedure and materials and realisation of aims. Then I shall go on to look at the investigation as a whole, focussing on its overall objectives and the implications for the use of technology in the classroom. In both sections I shall also look to the future to suggest how adaptations could be made.

The lesson

The students and I felt that the key aims were met and that opportunities were provided for reflection through writing and self-evaluation (unfortunately, there was no opportunity for peer evaluation due to the small group size). However, as I set the self-evaluation stage for homework because of time restraints, only one student actually completed it!

After experiencing huge benefits from self-evaluation on the online course I took, I need to consider very carefully how I can encourage it in my students. I will treat this as a priority as, ironically, the realisation of its value was the most profound development I made on the course.

As ever, in addition to the scheduled aims, there were unexpected learning opportunities. I was surprised that upper-intermediate students were not familiar with all of the room names they met, but then again, terms such as ‘utility room’ rarely appear in course books. The main area of vocabulary expansion, however, was in the lexical field of computer terminology. If I were to repeat this class, or indeed any ICT session, I would probably slot a session on this area into the syllabus, with a view to prepare the students.

Other procedural points that I noticed, were that the ‘brainstorming of qualities of your ideal home’ stage could have been spiced up a little by offering more ideas to the students. Jill Hadfield includes a suitable activity in ‘Classroom Dynamics’ (1992).

Part 1 was perhaps not as clear as it could have been. Perhaps the students were not completely aware of what it was they were supposed to be doing. For example, the students could not decide whether they were looking for a holiday home or not. I should look at this section again and refine the instructions.

More focussed criteria all round in fact would enable the teacher to keep the stages brief and the dynamic upbeat. This is particularly true of the ‘choosing property’ stage, where the students were offered property from all around Europe and the world, although they wanted to find something in Spain. A great deal of time was spent looking in vain. Suggestions we came up with afterwards were to include more Spanish property websites in English at this stage, if they exist! A good place to start looking would be amongst the ex-pat community.

The final stage could be livened up by transforming it into show-viewing role-play, perhaps adding a stage to introduce estate agent lexis and/or language of persuasion. The presentation could even take place in the next class, thereby offering an opportunity to ‘space’ the recycling of vocabulary. Through the use of role-play the ‘potential buyers’ would find themselves in a more natural position to ask questions about the displays too.

In fact, talking of displays, it turned out that card was not necessary as the students prepared everything on PowerPoint, which lends itself naturally to being presented to a group.

Another technological opportunity which I had missed was to have offered desktop dictionaries instead.

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