Internet-based project work
Why do Internet-based project work? – A natural progression from using individual web pages and websites in the classroom is to move on to online project work.
- They are a structured way for teachers to begin to incorporate the internet into the language classroom, on both a short-term and a long-term basis. It is well worth looking around on the internet to see if something appropriate already exists before sitting down to create your own project.
- More often than not, they are group activities and, as a result, lend themselves to communication and the sharing of knowledge, two principal goals of language teaching itself. The use of projects encourage cooperative learning , and there fore stimulates interaction.
- They can be used simply for language learning purposes, but can also be interdisciplinary, allowing for cross-over into other departments and subject areas.
- They encourage critical thinking skills.
Project work online can range from a simple low-level project like making a poster presentation about a famous person to high-level investigative work where learners research a subject and presentation about a famous person to high-level investigative work where learners research a subject and present polemical views and opinions in a report or debate. in order to prepare for Internet-based project work, you will need to do the following:
- Choose the project topic -Will your learners be researching famous people, anevent or an issues
- Make the task clear – what information will they need to find-biographical, factual, views and opinions?
- Find the resources
- Decide on the outcome
-A low-level project – My favorite actor
- Three lesson periods of at least 45 minutes each (two if the first lesson is done for homework)
- access to the Internet for the second and third of the three suggested lessons.
- word processing software such as Microsoft word or OpenOffice.
– This particular project aims to provide the opportunity to focus on these language areas:
First lesson (Kind of brainstorming )- If you are short of class time, a good deal of this first lesson can be done for homework and then finished off with the collaborative element in the second lesson. Be careful, however, to emphasize that what you are looking for at this stage is what they already know, and that they do not need to go to the Internet for any information at all.
Second lesson – This second lesson requires a fair bit of work on the part of you, the teacher. If you think you may be short of time, limit the names of actors in the first lesson to a small selection that you have already researched. Before the lesson you will need to find useful sites to match the choice of actors your learners made. You can use the skills you acquired in Chapter 3 to accomplish this. Remember that for biographical information you can search using a part phrase such as “Johnny Depp was born in” In the next stage, you will need to provide them with a model biography. Check out some useful sites and rewrite one example to your students’ language level. You may decide to do some comprehension work on your model text at this time, working on the structures and vocabulary areas that you want them to include in their biographies.
Third lesson – This third lesson involves making the final product. by now your learners will have collected all the information they need and will also have seen your model biography, so they should be in a position to come up with one of their own.
-A high-level project – Global warming – You may want to work beforehand on some of the language areas useful for the activity, for example giving opinions, agreeing and disagreeing. However, this will depend on the level of your learners. While the lower level project we have just looked at is an ideal opportunity for developing specific communication skills, this project goes deeper into a topic and encourages more complex thinking and reasoning processes.
- three lesson periods of at least 45 min each
- access to the Internet for the first and possibly second of the three suggested lessons.
- optionally, access to video recording equipment for the third lesson.
First lesson – This lesson can easily be done in 45 min, but learners would benefit from more time for their research into the topic and for the subsequent discussion of their findings, if that time is available.
Second Lesson – This second lesson will also fit into a 45-min period, but again the depth and quality of their preparation will improve if they are given more time. Learners will, in the third lesson, be role-playing a television debate. So they divide the class into groups, working towards the role-playing.
- TV debate presenters.
- scientists who deny that global warming exists, or that it is potentially dangerous.
- environmental campaigners wanting to inform the public of the dangers
- TV studio audience.
Third lesson – Here your learners will have the actual debate. If it is possible, simulate a TV studio in your classroom by moving the tables and chairs around, creating spaces for the four groups and encouraging your learners to decorate them. Make sure that the stages of debate do not overrun. The worst thing that can happen is that you run out of time to conclude the debate properly.
Internet -based simulations
The more traditional approach has teachers cutting up prepared role-cards in order to simulate these contexts. The Internet largely does away with this approach, giving learners access to authentic websites that provide stimulating and relevant content that enables them to carry out these simulations.
Web-quests are mini-projects in which a large percentage of the input and material is supplied from the Internet. Web-quests can be teacher-made or learner-made, depending on the learning activity the teacher decides on.
- Short-term web-quests – It may spread over a period of a couple of classes or so, and will involve learners in visiting a selection of sites to find information , and using that information in class to achieve a set of learning aims.
- Long-term web-quests – After completing a longer-term web-quest, a learner will have analyzed a body of knowledge deeply, transforming it in some way. Learners have to transform the information they quire, turning it into a new product: a report, a presentation, an interview or a survey Long-term web-quests might last a few weeks, or even a term or semester.
Step 1 – Introduction
_ This stage is normally used to introduce the overall theme of the web-quest. It involves giving background information on the topic and, in the language learning context, often introduces key vocabulary and concepts which learners will need to understand in order to complete the tasks involved.
Step 2 – Task
_ The task section of the web-quest explains clearly and precisely what the learners will have to do as they work their way through the webquest. The task should obviously be highly motivating and intrinsically interesting for the learners, and should be firmly anchored in a real-life situation.
Step 3 – Process
_ The process stage of a web-quest guides the learners through a set of activities and research tasks, using a set of predefined resources. These resources are predominantly Internet-based, and are usually presented in clickable form, that is, as a set of active links to websites within the task document. It’s important to bear in mind that it’s much easier to click on a link than to type it in with any degree of accuracy.
Step 4 – Evaluation
_ The evaluation stage can involve learners in self-evaluation, comparing and contrasting what they have produced with other learners, and giving feedback on what they feel they have learn and achieved.
- Research skills
- Analytical skills
- Word processing skills
Exploring the possibilities stage
- choose and chunk the topic – to decide on a macro topic and then break it down into micro chunks of topic areas
- Identify learning gaps – Web-quests are good for dealing with critical thinking skills, problem solving and group dynamics which are learning gaps
- Inventory resources – This involves collecting the resources for the web-quest, including links to appropriate websites, images with which to decorate the web-quest and media files.
- Uncover the question – You need to ensure that you have a central question or idea which has no single answer, and which necessitates research and interpretation.
Designing for success stage
- Brainstorm transformations – This involves deciding what your learners will be doing with the information they find on the websites. BD identified this stage as what happens between ‘learning inputs’ and ‘learning outcomes’ This is where you flesh out the tasks in the process stage, guiding your learners through the information they uncover, and helping them towards an understanding and transformation of that information as they work towards the products they need to put together.
- Identify real-world feedback – This means that you might try looking for ways in which the information necessary for the web-quest might be gathered from real people – by the use of e-mail, polls and questionnaires.
- Sort links into roles – The Links you identified in the inventory resources section should now be assigned to the various sections of the process stage of your web-quest.
- Define the learning task – This refers to the products which are the direct result of working through the web-quest.
Creating your web-quest stage
- Write the web page – If you’re familiar with web design tools you will be able to turn your web-quest plan into a website and put it on a web server. but this is, perhaps, a slow way of preparing a web-quest. The easiest way to do this is to use word.
- Engage learners – Now you have your web-quest in place, think about an engaging and stimulating introduction as a lead-in to the quest itself. Hopefully your web-quest will have plenty of motivating tasks and websites in it, so the final thing that you need to do is to get learners involved from the outset, and to draw them to a conclusion that clearly demonstrates what they have covered and that rounds the quest off satisfactorily.
- Scaffold thinking – In this stage you need to think about the instructions given in the web-quest itself. These instructions should not only guide the learners through the web-quest, but should also deal with the learning gap identified in the exploring the possibilities stage, and guide them towards answering the question.
- Decision : implement and evaluate – The final stage is to try out the web-quest with a group or two, take feedback from them and also consider how it went for you, and make appropriate changes for future use.
Dudeney, Gavin and Nicky Hockly. 2007. How to Teach English with Technology. Pearson Education Limited:Edinburgh Gate England.