Educational CyberPlayGround ®

Technology Integration or Thinking Integration?

Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 10:04:59 +1100
From: (Tom March)
Subject: Technology Integration or Thinking Integration?

Dear Barbalee, Turville and others,

Barbalee brings up an excellent point regarding using sites like Quia to create classroom activities that make use of the Web and technology. Educators can only start where they are at - isn't it funny that as much as we holler about learning-centered approaches for students, we often forget in our rush to do PD that educators are learners too, and it doesn't do much good to jump into WebQuest design if people haven't some personal experience and insight into the Web already.

This harkens back to the 10 Stages for Web Use Nirvana The reason I wanted to jump into this thread is that even as you serve colleagues things like Quia, I believe you also need to be saying, "And this is why you don't really want to use it." We had to do the same thing a couple years ago when we started showing people like Treasure Hunts . The reason is that teachers quickly "get" things like these Hunts and Quia and that eases the cognitive dissonance ("How the heck am I supposed to use this Web thing?"). The problem with adults - as well as children learners - is that once something is assimiliated, if life is busy, multidirectional, full of putting out fires and wiping noses, further sophistication in understanding doesn't always follow. Just look at all the "WebQuests" out there that are really knowledge level hunts and you'll see what I mean. People gained some understanding of linking to Web sites for information, but weren't ready for the transformative thinking aspects that really make an activity a WebQuest.

This is not a criticism, just an observation about learning after years of consulting with people creating WebQuests and other Web-based activities.

The starting point I've found that is most helpful for educators is to begin classroom integration of the Web is with Subject Samplers. Samplers and a range of activities can be read about at "Working the Web for Learning: Theory and Practice" Samplers are good places to start because:

1) Samplers use high interest and often quirky links (thus intriguing students and quickly jumping to an aspect that makes the Web better than a mere information resource).

2) Samplers target student motivation and affective connections (thus offering a needed boost to relevance).

3) Samplers can work in a traditional class period (as opposed to WebQuests that often expand into libraries, online discussions, homework, etc.)

4) Samplers often end in great class discussions around essential questions (thus paving the way for higher order thinking (and WebQuests ;-)

5) Samplers only need a handful of links or so (thus are easily created using something like Filamentality or Web-and-Flow).

6) The three steps related to each link follow the same pattern (thus are easier to write than even knowledge-based questions).

So give a Subject Sampler a try when you really want your colleagues to geta vision for integrating the Web in learning, not just technology.

An online example related to the upcoming African American history Month


Tom --
Tom March,, +61 2 4872 3023 online learning strategies & consulting

There is nothing more important than
the right-rearing and education of children.
-- Michel de Montaigne