Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (COLOMBIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2012 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Pages: 2092-2101
ISBN: 978-84-615-5563-5
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2012
Location: Valencia, Spain
At the present time, there is ongoing pressure to include technology as a crucial part of instruction (Mora, 2011a), evidenced in the different efforts in schools and preservice teacher education programs (Boling, 2008; Kellner, 2000) to experiment with computers, technology, and bimodal environments. Nevertheless, the push for technological mediation is still missing a strong conceptual framework and a deeper reflection about the meanings and pedagogical uses of technology. In this rush for including technology in classrooms (Cope & Kalantzis, 2007), the technology experience may just be asking students to find information online, which usually becomes a simple written report. We believe that these kinds of activities reduce the richness of the technological and human resources in our educational institutions. These activities in the computer lab are neither creative nor engaging, nor do their outcomes help build new environments to interact and generate knowledge. In addition, these activities do not promote critical thinking, so necessary in this new information era (Cope & Kalantzis, 2007; Mora, 2011a).

One response that scholars in literacy, ELT, and technology education have found is the idea of WebQuests (Dodge, 1997; Sommerville, 2000; March, 2007). WebQuests, “inquiry-oriented” (Dodge, 1997) activities in which students develop creative tasks by using carefully selected online resources, have become an alternative to combine critical thinking skills with computers and the internet. Although some researchers have explored WebQuests in education (Halat, 2008; Kelly, 2000; LoParrino, 2005; Segers & Verhoeven, 2009; Vidoni & Maddux, 2002), and preservice teacher education (e.g. Manning and Carpenter, 2008; Wang & Hannafin, 2008), evidence of their use in ELT (e.g. Sen & Neufeld, 2006; Sox & Rubinstein-Ávila, 2009) is still scarce. Examples of their application in Latin America (e.g. Barahona, 2009) or Colombia (Mora, Martínez, Alzate-Pérez, Gómez-Yepes, Zapata-Monsalve, & Henao-Echeverri, 2011) are still emerging. However, the few examples from the field of ELT neither have a solid conceptual framework for engaging tasks nor are they linked to preservice teacher education.

This presentation will show how two professors and their four students worked with WebQuests in the context of a preservice ELT course at a Catholic university in Colombia. First, we will discuss how technology is a pillar of the university’s and the program’s curricular transformation processes and how we articulated the idea of WebQuests within our curriculum. We will also discuss how we frame WebQuests within a social-constructivist framework, in which the WebQuests’ tasks would promote the development of critical thinking and specific competencies as users of the English language. We will also present the process that students and professors did to put these WebQuests together. Finally, this presentation will highlight the process of reflexivity (Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992; Mora, 2011a, b; Schirato & Webb, 2002) in which we all engaged. All six authors will discuss the lessons learned in our class discussions and practical work with the WebQues, our thoughts about the effect of technological mediation in teacher-student relationships in today’s classrooms, and the different lessons that preservice teachers and teacher educators alike should consider when creating and implementing WebQuests.
WebQuests, ELT, Technology mediation.