Thursday, March 31, 2011

On the quest for Webquests, from Theory to Practice.

'Engineering' and 'digital tools' together create a deep sea of knowledge and endless possibilities.  In the last two blogs the conversation was about how to incorporate various digital tools into an engineering curriculum.  Content specific STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) videos can create a virtual opportunity for STEM students to learn. Blogging can help STEM students reflect about their engineering experiences, stay in touch with real world of engineering problems, and practice the extremely crucial skill of written communication. After reading the texts about Webquests and everything else that we have learned thus far, it still seems an overwhelming task choose what is 'right' and to actually bring the endeavors to fruition in the curriculum. 

It is becoming more apparent to me that being a finicky fisherman in the sea of digital-fish is the right way to be.  The fisherman, or the educator in this case must do her due diligence in researching the proper fishing rod, bait, boat, location, time/date, etc. to make the excursion a success.  Once the fish have been reeled in, the consumers (students) must have the right seasonings, pans, and utensils available to cook and then digest it all.  OK, enough with the fishing analogy.  The bottom line is that  a great deal of thought and effort should go into choosing and using technology in the classroom. 

In the chapters this week about Webquests, a light turned for me on in regards to virtual field trips for the introductory engineering class that I designed and teach.   In my class, we learn about the different majors of engineering.  Part of the class includes taking tours of departments.  Would it be feasible to make a virtual tour of the departments, junior/senior courses, and labs?  I think the answer is a big YES!  We are not able to have a whole class visit a senior design class and have it be productive without wasting a class period for the seniors.  But we can videotape senior design classes, lab tours, etc. that each student can view on their own or as a class.  As an after-assignment and expository practice, students could write a blog, write and entry in a Facebook group, post in a wiki, or other similar assignment.  This is not an easy task.  Making good videos will take work.  But once done, the information will serve the students for semesters and years to come. 

Time for me to get to work!


  1. Hi Lydia,

    I think the webquests and videos of the senior design projects is a great idea! Something that I think engineering students really benefit from their first year is exposure to what the hands on activities of being an engineer entails. These experiences at times are not feasible for all disciplines, but videos are very manageable. It would be great to have the cooperation of all the engineering disciplines to incorporate webquest and videos into the introductory courses for the disciplines if projects and activities don’t already exist. So the use of technology for this purpose would not be necessary for all classes, but I think you would agree that all courses should allow students to see the application of the content.

  2. Hi Lydia,

    That sounds like a fantastic idea! When my daughter went on tours of different high schools in the region, one school in particular had a fantastic video created by students to take visitors on a "virtual" tour of the school, in and out of special rooms, meeting teachers, seeing students engaged in numerous projects. It was excellent. It really gave her a sense of the school.

    The virtual tours benefit the students who watch them as well as the student who create them. It sounds like an excellent application in your field too.

  3. I love that idea! And to continue with your fishing analogy "give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime." By having the students learn to research and navigate through the different technological tools and resources which are available to them, you will be teaching them another life skill!