Wednesday, July 05, 2006

One Year of QuestGardening: A Crop Report – Bernie Dodge, PhD

PowerPoint Available -

QuestGarden is a website that Bernie Dodge has worked on for the last 1 ½ and was debuted at NECC 2005. He created the site because Mr. Dodge noticed that creating WebQuests took a lot of time, too many technical skills, and resources that most teachers and school do not have access to. In addition, a good WebQuest should include strong pedagogical skills including constructivism, using higher level thinking, and coherence within a lesson. Most teacher also teach, and create Webquests, in isolation and peer feedback helps the Quest be better. Finally, teachers need to store the pages.
Some symptoms of these problems include: Webquests that are uploaded and not updates, many teachers found that the first one was too difficult and won't make a second one, and that fact that excellent teachers may feel that WebQuesting is too difficult and won't ever make one, which is a loss for all teachers.

What is QuestGarden? The metaphor comes from a community garden, where master gardeners work with novice gardeners to create an overflowing garden. Mr. Dodge debuted this website in Feb. 2005 and tested it throughout the spring and summer. He announced it at NECC 2005. There are now over 30,000 users from all over the world. Over 14,000 new WebQuests are available.

Mr. Dodge built into QuestGarden what he would talk about in a workshop, including prompted guidance with each step. It is browser based, so no software is needed. The advantage to this site is that fact that there is an emphasis on sharing resources and aadvice – feedback is easy even when using it as a workshop. It is WYSIWYG and able to upload pics. The basic patterns of WebQuests are available to help ease the design factor.

QuestGarden is available at:

After a quick demo of the site, Mr. Dodge highlighted some of the best WebQuests accessible on the site. He is especially interested in the new developments within the WebQuest structure – using wikis and podcasts. He also looked at the kid-created WebQuests. At first is thought it was a bad idea, then, thinking about the structure of QuestGarden, it might be viable, however, after examining the kid-created ones Mr. Dodge has found that overall, the deep thinking needed is not happening. He is pondering how to deal with this situation, maybe including a student section with a different set of resources.
However, despite some of the problems, Mr. Dodge feels that QuestGarden is fulfilling its purpose – make it easy to create WebQuests, that are truly WebQuests. An activity that helps students to use the internet to get kids to think deeply, evaluate and analyze and apply information.

The future of QuestGarden is promising. It will continue to be free until September 1, 2006. There will be a charge in the future because the amount of information flowing requires server space and bandwith. He is considering 20USD for a 2 year subscription – to encourage people to use and revise their webquests. For teacher prep classes, there will be a 30 day free trial.

There will also be new features. He hopes to allow the WebQuests to be exported into other sites. Many people would like to translate the site into other languages. There will also be more options for peer ratings and feedback, including a mentoring type program. Scaffolding extras (such as art viewing worksheets) and integrated quizzes will be built in too. Finally, there will be the ability to download other's WebQuests to your own space to update and change it to fit your situation.

In addition, the current WebQuest site will be merged with QuestGarden. RSS feeds will be available. There are new design patterns that are and will emerge as technology changes.

Inspiration-like concept map open source site -

Timeliner-like open source site Simile by MIT -

1 comment:

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