Many writers have come up with various studies explaining the interaction that technology and education have had over the recent past and it is clear that as technology advances, schools continue developing their teaching methods to keep up with the technology. According to Gunelius (2006), computer technology has greatly enhanced the learning of students and it is continuously being used to improve the quality of education in the schools.
The aim of this study is to show the importance of the introduction of computer technology in the education sector. It tries to identify how wikis, blogs and web quests can be made part of the learning of students and how they enhance the quality of education if well implemented. Chapter one gives background information on the study. It identifies the way in which learning has changed from the past when there was little or no computer technology to the present time when technology has continuously changed the mode of learning in schools. The chapter also explains the problem statement, which is the importance of computer wikis, blogs and quests in the classroom.
In chapter one, there are also the research objectives that are formulated to help come up with a conclusive statement at the end of the study. The objectives are separated into the broad and specific objectives. It also specifies the research hypothesis that was to be made during the study and the questions which were obtained from the research objectives. The chapter specifies also the scope of the study because the study was directed to a particular group and not a large population. It was found out that the Saudi high schools had not implemented the computer technology into their curriculum and this study was targeted to these schools to help them identify the need for education technology.
Chapter two gives a literature review of the study. It identifies works and any other literature that was made by previous scholars and researchers to explain the various kinds and designs of web wikis, blogs and quests. These reviews also bring out the benefits that were noted to be brought about by using the wikis, blogs and quests. Each of these software is of different kinds and teachers are provided with the freedom of choosing the very best for their students.
Chapter three consists of a summary, the conclusion and recommendations.The summary gives a generalized overview of the entire study. It lists down the various advantages and disadvantages associated with using the web pages in the classroom. The conclusion part brings out a conclusive statement of the study. It gives a positive opinion that shows the need for implementing the computer technology in the school curriculum. Recommendations give the researcher’s opinion on what ought to be done in order to ensure that students benefit from using the wikis, blogs and web quests. From the study, there is need to encourage teachers to make use of computer technology in the education system. This is because technology keeps improving and students should not be left out in making use of the technology, and because it has greater benefits than it should be part of developing their learning. The three chapters in this report have effectively identified the benefits of incorporating the change in the education system.
With the advancement of technology and change in various sectors of our day-to-day life, there has arisen need to change the learning techniques in schools. Many teachers have developed new teaching methods that will create efficiency and enhance the level of education. The use of classroom blogs, wikis and web quests has changed the teaching and learning methods in schools and with the increased level of technology, this has been seen as one of the most effective methods of learning.
The increasing use of web-based information has facilitated the need for online learning and many students and teachers have found it convenient to create online networks to make learning easier. This way, students get to learn a lot, not only from their teachers but from other students and professionals as well. All they have to do is to keep their network and online communication (Webb, 2006).
Before the advancement of technology, students would have to attend classes, make notes and do all the research work on their own whether the resources were available or not. However, as online communication was made possible and Wikipedia as well as web quests were made, learning was facilitated. All that one requires now is to have access to these sources and make use of them. The wikis, blogs and web quests are accessible to all who have online connections and they are much easier to use compared to the technical learning between teachers and students.
The use of technology has to be incorporated into the curriculum in schools in order to make learning more efficient and to ensure that students have been integrated into it and are able to acquire new experiences in their learning.
Statement of the Problem
Technology has led to changes in various sectors and the use of this technology in schools would result in an effective and easier way of learning. Recent analysis shows that using computers in schools to integrate the normal learning procedures makes students more aggressive and interested in their work and also creates a more educative strategy. It enhances the students’ way of thinking and creates creativity through the various concepts and ideas obtained. This research therefore aims at bringing out ideas on how teachers would incorporate new technology in form of blogs, wikis and quests to make learning easier and to make students up-to-date with these technologies.
The main objective of this study is to show the need for schools to incorporate the classroom blogs, wikis and web quests into their curriculum in order to facilitate easier learning among students.
- To show how advanced technology has changed the learning environment in schools.
- To identify the importance of blogs, wikis and web quests in the curriculum set-up and to the students.
- To identify the changes which have come up in schools as a result of integration of technology in learning.
- To find ways in which teachers can incorporate the computer technology in schools in order to help students improve their learning skills.
- Classroom blogs, Wikipedia and web quests are an ineffective ways of enhancing learning in schools.
- Integration of computer technology in schools will not improve the standard of learning in schools.
- Will the new technology bring a change in the learning environment of both the teachers and students?
- Are there ways in which teachers can incorporate the classroom blogs, wikis and web quests into the school curriculum to enhance understanding and use of skills acquired?
- What are the benefits of incorporating this new technology in schools to both the teachers and the students?
Scope of the Study
This study was directed to the teachers of Saudi high schools as a guide to helping them implement these classroom technologies so as to improve the quality of the education they offered to their students.
The use of computer technology in schools is the incorporation of computer knowledge in the education sector to assist in learning. It is using the technological skills and expertise in the normal curriculum to improve the students’ way of learning and thinking. Therefore, integration of technology in the school requires that teachers are able to effectively incorporate it and that students are able to use it to enhance their learning. The technology incorporated in the students’ learning should help them become better and improve the quality of their education. It should be a way of enhancing an effective education system but it should not replace the normal learning of the students.
There are various ways by which people use computer technology to communicate and obtain information. These tools that are used in the technology are made in a way that they are able to add more value to the education system, whether it is in arithmetic, reading, sciences, or arts. The technology tools may be referred to as social software tools because they have become a means of sharing ideas and helping in people’s way of reasoning. Examples of these social tools, which are used in the school setting, are the blogs, wikis and web quests (Boyd, 2003).
Unlike the normal learning in the classroom, the use of technology helps students obtain resources from different sources within and without the institution. They also help the students develop critical thinking as they encounter new terminologies and learning skills. The main idea of implementing the computer technology into classrooms is to bring out the best in students as they identify themselves with the changing and advancing technology. It is aimed at helping students become familiar with all the changes that take place and assist them to improve their skills. It should not be used as a substitute for the normal curriculum of the school; rather it should be a way of giving students a chance to be proficient in the computer technology.
The aim of this study is therefore to review the various social software tools that are used in schools and benefits they would bring to both the teachers and the students if they were fully and well implemented.
The use of the Wiki in the classroom
According to Arnold (2003), the wiki is one of the social software devices that may effectively be used in the classroom. It is also commonly known as the Wikipedia although there are other kinds of wikis that are used to provide information to learners. The Wikipedia provides an encyclopedia for all information and ideas. It gives a detailed description of information and it is categorized as a resource wiki (Wales, 2005).
A wiki is a software device that allows its user to edit the contents in it or add new information to it. It creates social network in a way that people are able to share various ideas and communicate information. When students have access to the wikis they are able to interact with different people and obtain sufficient skills. It gives its users the freedom to modify information and communicate their ideas with other users. It is therefore an easy way of using information provided to formulate more ideas and share with different people (Cunningham, 2001).
According to Cunningham (2001), wikis give users the responsibility of being both an author to the contents and an editor also. An author because students can formulate their own information and ideas in form of wikis and then through internet, pass it on to all others who have access to internet; and an editor because students may use information in a wiki that has been created by other people and then modify (edit) that information depending on the convenience and their skills. They become a useful way of enhancing creativity and critical thinking as they also offer relevant information.
Types and examples of wikis
There are different types of wikis, each of which is relevant to the people using them. Different wikis are therefore used by different people as they contain different kinds of information. According to Leuf (2001), one common example of a wiki is the Wikipedia and it provides very useful information to students. With its continuous use and modification, it has become students-friendly and teachers who have become familiar with the computer technology. Other examples of wikis are the Media wiki, which is mainly used to obtain references for different kinds of information. Students may use the Media wiki to source information they may have obtained during their research work (Wales, 2005).
Waters (2006) has classified wikis into three groups. According to him, wikis are classified according to their nature and their contents. This means that different wikis have different types of information and are therefore used by different people. These classifications are:
- Teacher wikis
- Students’ wikis
- Group wikis
Each of these groups is further sub-divided into three other categories: the no group category, different group category and the freely visible category.
In this category, only the teacher can modify the contents in the wiki. Students use it but cannot edit or modify the information in it. In the no-group division of the Teacher wikis, the wikis are not differentiated for different people. This means that there is only one wiki that is set to be used by all the groups in the classroom and no member of these groups can modify or edit the wikis. All the students in all the groups have the responsibility of using these wikis but they cannot edit them. They can only be edited by their teachers (Waters, 2006).
Waters (2006) also classified the Teacher wikis into the different groups’ category. According to him, this category allows only the teacher to edit the contents in it. The students also are able to view and use those wikis that belong to their group. This means that different groups in the classroom or school have different wikis. The different groups’ category can only be viewed by the members of that group only and they too have no authority to edit the information in it.
The freely visible category of the Teachers’ kind of wikis gives all students in all groups to use the information contained in them. Different groups in the classroom have their own wikis but all students can view the contents in all the wikis of all the groups. However, only the teacher has the ability to modify the information contained in the groups’ wikis (Waters, 2006).
According to Waters (2006), in this kind of wiki, every student in the classroom has their own wiki. They, together with their teachers have the freedom and the responsibility to read the contents in it as well as formulate it. In the no-group division of the Students’ wiki, every student has a wiki and only the students and their teachers can view their wikis. This means that students only have the right to use their own wikis.
The different groups’ category of the Students’ wiki is made in a way that all students have their own wikis and both the students and their teachers can modify their wikis. Students also have the right to view the contents of other students’ wikis in their group and not in other groups (Waters, 2006).
The freely visible category is made in such a way that all students have their own wikis and they together with their teachers are the only people who have the right to edit the contents. However all students have the right to view the contents of other students’ wikis in other groups. The students can view the wikis of other students in other groups in the classroom (Waters, 2006).
According to Waters (2006), the group wikis are made in a way that there are different groups in the classroom and each group has its own wiki which both they and their teachers can view and modify. In the no-group category of the groups’ wikis, all students use one wiki and they have the responsibility of modifying the contents and using it. There is no specific wiki for a particular group in the classroom.
In the different groups’ category, every group has its own wiki and only the students in that group and their teachers can edit the contents of their wiki. The students also d not have the authority to view wikis of other groups and hence they can only use their own wikis. In the freely visible category of the groups’ wikis, every group has its own wiki and students of that group and their teachers can modify the contents in their wikis but not in other groups’ wikis. However, all students in all groups can view the contents of the wikis of each other (Waters, 2006).
Other studies have classified wikis into different categories, also depending on their contents and uses. According to Leiserson (2003), wikis can be grouped into three: wikis for the outsiders or external users, wikis for the internal users and wikis for students in the classroom. A school may create wikis to be used by all members of the community outside the school environment. These are referred to as the wikis for outsiders. They are used by people outside the school to obtain relevant information. They are therefore formulated in a way that they give benefit not only to the school community but also to other people.
According to Leiserson (2003), wikis belonging to internal users are those wikis that are used by the school community only and not for other people who are not within the school setting. They contain information that is only relevant to the internal community and is only accessible by them. On the other hand, wikis for the classroom students can only be used by students of a particular class or course. Other people outside the classroom cannot use the classroom wikis. The students use these wikis to carry out their research work and to communicate ideas with other students.
Creating efficient wikis for use by students
According to Stafford (2006), using wikis in the classroom setting is one of the most convenient ways of enhancing learning among students. They have made learning much more efficient and teachers are encouraging students to make great use of them. Webb (2006) defines a wiki as a webpage where all who have access to it can edit it and create more information to it hence giving students an opportunity to share information and retain that which they already have acquired. It is therefore necessary that when formulating wikis for use in the classroom, students’ needs and desires are put into consideration.
Before deciding which wiki to use, it is important that various factors are put into consideration. Choosing the right wiki depends on the use that is meant for it and the ability of the users to effectively use it to assist in their work. According to Stafford (2006), a good wiki should be supported by the web server that is in use. It should also be easy to install and to use by the students and should contain information relevant to its users. It should provide freedom for all its users to edit it but should also be made in a way that allows one person to edit at a particular time in order to maintain the changes that are made by each individual.
Stafford and Webb (2006) have provided the following ideas towards ensuring an efficient wiki is used by students:
- A student should make all the notes that they require to use on the wiki. They should avoid having too many different notes in different areas. If students are to use wikis to help in their learning, they should try to use them as often as they can so that they become familiarized with them. By keeping all their notes on the wiki page, they are able to retrieve them and obtain all the information they require with ease.
- Attachments or supporting materials should also be kept on the wikis and not in different areas. For easier retrieval and consistency in the flow of ideas, it is necessary that any information, links and references are attached to notes on the wiki.
- Keep up-to-date with the wiki. It is important that students know everything about the wiki and ways of making it friendly in their learning. Teachers should play an important part in helping the students fully incorporate the wiki into their learning as this will make it easier for them to obtain as much knowledge as possible and also share their ideas with different people who are also well conversant with the wiki.
- Students should also make maximum use of the wikis. They should try to work on different topics and ideas as often as possible. This way they are able to learn more from them and advance their level of thinking as new ideas arise as new topics and materials are retrieved.
- Wikis should be used to share information among the different users. However, they should not be made in a way that causes problems while trying to retrieve or store information. Students using the wikis should ensure that they do not cause more inconvenience to their work as a result of them being used by many people. They should make learning more efficient and not inefficient and therefore teachers should try to advise students on the best way to collaborate with other people without affecting the use of and information contained in the wikis.
When these points are taken into consideration, students will have a relatively easy time using the wikis. Waters (2006) argues that a wiki will create a convenient time for students; all they need to do is to take them as part of their learning and to aim at being fully conversant with them.
Stafford (2006) comes up with five ways of making the wikis a great friend to students in their classwork:
- When a wiki has a lot of pages containing information, it would be more convenient if students prepared an index for every page. This way they are able to retrieve any information they require without spending a lot of time.
- Avoid spending a lot of time trying to organize work in an orderly manner. Even if all the information were not kept in the order of its contents, it would still be easy to retrieve it. All that is required in a wiki is to provide information and not really to organize it in a particular order and hence ordering your information may only create more confusion or give students a difficult time trying to make the best wikis.
- Make going through the pages in the wiki a habit. This way one is able to more conversant with the way the contents are arranged in the wiki pages. Even if arranging contents in a particular order is not necessary, it is essential that the users of the wiki know what is contained in them and this is made possible by ensuring that the students spend some time as often as possible going through the pages.
- Students should put as much information as they can into the wikis. They should not be afraid to over-load content in the wiki. However, they should make a point of editing their work whenever they can to remove the information that is no longer required.
- Students should also attach notes on the relevant pages so that they may see them as they go through the information. They should avoid attaching notes on pages that they are not likely to see in time. For example, when researching on a particular project, any information obtained outside the wiki should be attached to the pages that will be used to write that project for easier retrieval.
Computer blogs in the classroom
A blog can be defined as a web page that allows its users to obtain information and make additional information about it. Entries are made to web blogs in form of definitions, data, or other useful events that have taken place. Events and any other information recorded in the blogs are normally arranged in a certain chronological order. Blogs are required to be frequently updated and as new information is created the older gets to the back of the pages. This means that current information is more easily retrieved than older information, and hence students would be required to ensure that pages are well numbered and entries made are clearly headed so that they do not get a difficult time while trying to retrieve the information (Gunelius, 2006).
Gunelius (2006) argues that the best way to maintain an effective blog is to create categories or groups in the information contained in it. It is necessary that any entries made to web blogs are well grouped into categories for convenience. Teachers making blogs for their students should try to make them simple to use by ensuring that they are appropriately categorized, the categories being neither too broad nor too narrow. Broad categories may not bring the meaning of arranging information in their groups since they will make users have a difficult time trying to retrieve particular information. Narrow categories, on the other hand, will only create confusion for the students because they will hardly be able to identify the category in which particular information has been saved. Too narrow categories will mean that entries are sub-divided into many groups that become difficult to distinguish.
Gunelius (2006) also argues that information contained in each category is arranged in an organized chronological order so that as the students access the pages, they are able to clearly identify the most recent information and that which was previously recorded. Students should also be encouraged to give the pages relevant titles so that information is not mixed up. This way, it becomes very efficient to use the web blogs and these also enhance the learning of students. Students should be encouraged to familiarize themselves with all the contents in the web blogs so that they may make sufficient use of them.
Types and examples of blogs
According to Marlow (2004), blogs can be classified into different groups depending on the content and their use. Since entries in them are arranged chronologically, beginning with the most recent to the oldest, the classification of blogs can also be made according to the way the entries are made. Marlow (2004) gives different examples of web blogs which can be used by students in their learning. Some blogs focus their information on the art and these are commonly known as the art blogs. These may be used by students to retrieve all topics related to art. Other examples of blogs are the photo blogs and sketch blogs which are respectively used to share ideas in form of pictures and sketches. Students can easily retrieve images that they intend to use in their research work or for any other material. They will also obtain sketches of whatever diagrams they may intend to have by making use of the sketch blogs.
Marlow (2004) has also grouped web blogs into different types, depending on the type and nature of the information contained in them. Teachers in trying to incorporate the use of blogs in their teaching methods should ensure that they provide their students with the most appropriate. The following types of computer blogs have been identified (Marlow, 2004):
This is a type of blog that is created and formulated by an individual for personal use only. They are normally made to share information with close friends and colleagues and they contain no more than that information that is useful to the users. Creating personal blogs is referred to as micro blogging because entries made to these blogs are narrow-based and are directed to a small group of people. Personal blogs can conveniently be used by students I a particular course to share information with their fellow students in the same course (Marlow, 2004).
These kinds of blogs are mainly used by companies and other corporations to pass ideas on advancing or to market their products. They may be used internally among the different departments in the corporation, or externally to promote the company to the outsiders. These blogs may be used by students to obtain information regarding the current state in the corporate world or to get up-to-date with all that is happening away from the schools. They hence provide useful information when students are carrying out their research work in business.
This is a type of blog in which questions are sent and answers are given in response. They are used to answer questions that are entered into them and they are very useful to students especially when researching particular projects. An example of the question blogs is the Q-logs (Marlow, 2004).
According to Gunelius (2006) blog content can also be created in form of images other than in form of text. This kind of blog is referred to as the media blogs. Students may obtain picture clips from the photo blogs or sketches from the sketch blogs and they may also create their own in these kinds of blogs and then share them out with their fellow students. Pictures are a convenient way of learning as they are more easily understood and are less difficult to forget. Thus, when teachers incorporate use of images in the students’ teaching methods, their understanding skills are enhanced and they encourage a lot of creativity.
When blogs are classified according to their genre, they are grouped according to the subject of what is contained in them. Genre blogs in the classroom may be created for use by the teachers to teach their students or for the students to carry out specific assignments or simply to provide any useful educational material for both the teachers and the students. Genre blogs used in the classroom are normally referred to as the educational blogs or Edu-blogs Gunelius (2006).
Blogs have been seen as an effective means of communicating ideas and with their continuous they have become more resourceful to all their users. With many people becoming conversant with them, it is necessary that teachers incorporate the educational blogs into the curriculum to improve learning skills. According to Gunelius (2006), edu-blogs would not only provide information to students in schools but would also create a continuous and complete link among students in different fields and between the students and their teachers.
The use of web quests among students
Dodge (1995) defines web quests as learning skills and performances carried out by learners with the help of the web. They allow students and teachers to actively participate in learning and share various ideas with other learners. They are created to allow students/ learners to carry out a particular task through research work and by the use of computer technology. They contain a list of activities that the learner is required to undertake using computer technology tools like the Microsoft word and Access or the web pages.
According to Dodge (1995), an appropriate web quest should contain the following:
- An introduction: This gives an introduction to what the web quest is about and defines the activities that the students are required to undertake. It also explains the reason why the activities should be carried out.
- List of activities: This gives the list of those activities that are to be undertaken by the students. It gives a detailed procedure of the activities required to be done by the students. A detailed analysis of how the activities are to be carried out. Every activity should be clearly explained together with the procedure of carrying out these activities.
- Guideline: There should also be a guideline that would be used to carry out these activities.
- Sources: A web quest should clearly indicate the sources from which information was obtained, whether it is from books, journals, or the internet itself.
- Conclusion: Once the above are incorporated in the web quest, then there needs to be a conclusive statement that completes all that the learner has undertaken in the quest. It summarizes what the learner has come across in the quest.
Types of web quests
Dodge (1995) has categorized web quests into two broad groups, the short term and long term web quests. A short-term quest normally contains information that can be acquired within a short period. While using this kind of web quest the learner should be able to obtain sufficient knowledge from all the information contained in it. Students using the short-term web quests should be able to gather sufficient information from them within a relatively short period.
A long term web quests are used for a relatively long period. They contain detailed information that explains different subjects and students use this information to carry out research or to share with other people. Unlike the short-term quests which are used during a certain class session, long-term quests can be used for a long period of close to a month depending on the details contained in them (Dodge, 1995).
Making an appropriate web quest for students
According to Dodge (1995), a web quest should be sufficient and functional for students. Teachers should ensure that they clearly understand the skills of their students in order to help them be able to use the web quests. The quests should not be too complex for the students, but they should also not be too simplified that they lack sufficient information. Dodge (1995) in his work argues that teachers should follow the following procedure to come up with the most effective web quests for use in the classroom:
- Teachers should be familiar with all the sources that are available to provide sufficient information. There is need to know where to source information and hence it is important that they carry out an extensive research to be able to get the best and most relevant information.
- The information obtained should be arranged in an organized manner in order to ensure that they are easily retrieved. Teachers should be guided on how to properly arrange the contents obtained from the different sources without omitting or misplacing any relevant information.
- Once the information has been kept in an organized manner, teachers should pick out that information that relates to their subject area so that students do not spend a lot of time going through information that is not related to what they are supposed to be covering. This means that teachers should clearly arrange information in order of priority and they should also give clear headings for each material. They should select that information that fits the school curriculum.
- Teachers should then obtain a web guideline that will assist them in carrying out the activities contained in the web quests. The guidelines will help the teachers give their students the best and they also help them go through any challenges that they may experience with ease.
Web quests have been seen to be one of the most interactive ways which enhance the learning of students. The three major characteristics of effective web quests, according to Dodge (1995) are:
- They are mainly in form of group activities. This means that different groups of students share out activities in the web quests and they distribute these activities among themselves. They create a network of groups among themselves.
- They are a means of motivating students to be active in their work. Every student using the web quest is given a task to perform. This makes them actively participate in all that they are supposed to do and it helps them gain more skills for their course work.
- They are more specific to a particular discipline. Most web quests are designed in a way that they relate to one specific discipline particularly when students are still familiarizing themselves with the quests. This ensures that they create convenience for the students until they are well conversant with them, when they can then be modified to cover other disciplines.
Web quests can therefore be said to be an effective means of providing students with skills. They are educative and motivated to use and they create an interactive environment for all students (Gunelius, 2006).
It is important to know that computer technology in schools has enhanced learning and created more opportunities for students to interact and share information. It has also improved the skills of teachers by providing more teaching aid and creating more time for research work. In an effort to advance the quality of education in schools and to be able to be up-to-date with the current and ever-growing technology, teachers ought to incorporate these learning soft wares into the school curriculum (Boyd, 2003).
This study is based on lowery’s theory of constructivism which argues that through the use of computer blogs, wikis and web quests students are able to construct their own means of improving their skills to make their learning in the classroom more productive. According to Lowery (1997), students are able to use their own knowledge and the knowledge of their fellow students to construct an effective way of enhancing understanding. They improve their own reasoning and understanding without having to solely rely on their teachers. They also create a link with other students and they are able to share ideas amongst themselves.
Social software has created a new environment for the students all over the world and with its continuous use it is likely to enhance the students’ way of thinking and reasoning out. Students have been able to create their own knowledge from the software and modify their skills in their area of study. They have enabled the students to participate actively in making their minds think and in creating their own knowledge. They have indirectly given students control over their education and understanding and this way motivation in learning is easily enhanced (Boyd, 2003).
In summary therefore, it can be argued that classroom blogs, wikis and web quests should be made part of the students’ learning as they are continuously engaging them with the changes in technology. They have been seen to be a constructive way of enhancing learning through creating networks among different students.
How does the social software motivate students?
According to Boyd (2003), active participation of students has proved to be an effective way of enabling them to be motivated to learn. Through the use of wikis, blogs and quests, students are made to actively contribute to sharing and giving sufficient knowledge. They are given the opportunity to create their own means of communicating information with other students and helping their teachers to come up with resources. Through the social software, they are able to look for different sources of information away from their teachers and this way they desire to be active in getting the best for themselves.
Since the blogs, wikis and web quests are used by different people, the students creating them are encouraged to produce the very best information. They feel motivated when people effectively use their resources and they feel they have the responsibility of giving their very best. Students would want to have a good reputation from the outside community and by producing the best web pages with all the necessary information they are able to gain their desired reputation (Boyd, 2003).
Through the extensive advancement and use of computer technology, most students have gained greater confidence. Those students who participate less in classroom activities have been able to acquire the opportunity to share out their ideas without having to directly interact with their fellow students. It enhances students’ performance away from the normal classroom sessions hence those who are less confident in interacting face to face with their fellow students and teachers are able to share their ideas through the web (Arnold, 2003).
According to Arnold (2003), web quests, wikis and blogs also encourage continuous learning for students away from their classroom sessions. This means that students actively participate in enhancing their education skills outside their classrooms. The technology has brought about convenience among the students and their teachers and has therefore created a productive environment for students wherever they are. This way, students have been motivated to continuously improve their knowledge whenever they have access to the internet. This is a more effective way of motivating full participation of students unlike when they have to be present in the classroom obtaining that knowledge directly from their teachers.
Wikis, blogs and web quests also motivate students to think critically. Through the web, students are provided with sufficient materials which they are able to research in order to come up with their own ideas. The technology has enabled students to obtain information from other students and this helps them identify their weak areas and be challenged to improve on them. According to Stafford (2006), wikis and blogs have been one way of encouraging critical thinking as students encounter new terminologies and techniques that make them aim at improving the knowledge which they already have. Web quests also encourage critical thinking since each student is given a task to perform. The student has to perform to the very best and this will ensure that they reason critically in order to perform to their best (Dodge, 1995).
Advantages of using wikis, blogs and web quests in the classroom
From the report obtained, it is clear that the computer technology used in the classroom has its benefits, both to the students and the teachers. According to Arnold (2003) these advantages can be summarized as follows:
- They have created a collaborative means of learning. According to Leuf (2001), wikis have become an indirect means of communication. Students have been enabled to collaborate with other students to share their ideas and skills. Through the use of wikis, the students can format or modify information available to provide better-researched work. Once it is saved in the wikis, other students easily retrieve the information and take note of any modifications. They are then able to make their new modifications as well and this way collaborative sharing of ideas is enhanced.
- Wikis and blogs also help students to be able to evaluate their own advancement. Students, once they edit the information contained in wikis, they are able to know how well they have improved their learning. Also, through the use of blogs students are able to compare information that they previously made with that which they are currently using. This means that they can evaluate how much they have gained in terms of quality and amount of the context within different time periods.
- They give students equal opportunity to contribute to their learning. Waters (2006) argued that some students lack enough confidence to share out their ideas in class but with the implementation of the wikis, blogs and web quests in learning, all students are given the responsibility of making proper use of them. Therefore even the less confident in class can comfortably share out their knowledge through these webs.
- They also enhance flexibility in learning for both the teachers and the students. By using the computer technology in class, new ideas are developed and once the teachers implement these ideas in their teaching they create flexibility in the curriculum and this provides opportunities for greater development. Students are also able to be more active in gathering information and they are able to avoid relying solely on their teachers’ class work.
- Waters (2006) also argues that wikis, blogs and web quests save on time. Since they can be used outside the classroom, teachers are able to distribute their work between class time and any other free time. This means that teachers do not have to spend a lot of class work time going through work that students can tackle on their own. They are able to make better use of the class work time handling new and more critical issues.
- According to Stafford (2006), wikis act as an effective notepad where students can note down any new ideas that arise and then compile these ideas to obtain a complete report. They can effectively be used to come up with well-researched work since information from different sources is recorded immediately after it is acquired.
Disadvantages of using wikis, blogs and web quests in the classroom
Even with the various benefits of having the computer technology incorporated into the school curriculum, there are also limitations that come with it. According to Dodge (1995), wikis, blogs and web quests are not the solutions to solving problems in school and unless they are well implemented, they may result in long-term negative effects for both the teachers and the students. Waters (2006) has identified the following limitations of using wikis, blogs and web quests in the classroom:
- Since wikis, web quests and blogs are shared among different people, there is need to ensure that only the best is provided. Students would not want to share poor work with the public and it becomes a challenge for teachers to have their students coming up with neat and pleasant work. Unpleasant work would not be accepted by the public; it would only cause embarrassment.
- The wikis also become challenging to use because all its users have the right to edit its information. By different people modifying information to give their ideas, there is a possibility that the wikis may become unorganized and may not be effective to obtain resources.
- Wikis, blogs and web quests are not made from simple details. They require to be created by people who are skilled and well conversant with the current technology. They also need to be created in a way that they go along with what is currently in use; otherwise they may not be useful to the students. The students must also be familiarized with the technology and how it is effectively implemented in their classwork.
- They also need to be constantly maintained. Once they have been implemented, they are required to be constantly formatted because they are used by different people and each person edits them often to suit their work. Proper maintenance of the web pages ensures that they do not prevent the students from achieving their intended results. Maintenance of the web pages requires that teachers and students constantly come up with new standards in order to keep up-to-date with the current technology.
Conclusion and Recommendations
In conclusion, it can be argued that the web pages have provided better learning and teaching environment for students and teachers. Wikis, blogs and web quests have proved to be effective among those students that make use of them and it is important that they are introduced to all others in order to improve their knowledge. The introduction of technology in schools is becoming a necessary factor and schools have to incorporate it in order to help their students improve their learning skills. Technology has proved to provide helpful and strong tools for the students and it has also enhanced their understanding. Teachers using the computer technology in the classroom can assert that it has done more good than harm to the students and it is upon other teachers to provide their students with this opportunity.
The use of the wikis, blogs and web quests in the classroom has created a network of ideas where students are given useful information from different sources and they are also given the responsibility to develop more ideas and knowledge. This way, students are motivated in their work and they are able to set goals for themselves which they are to achieve through making use of the ideas that they come up with. Students are also able to interact with other resourceful persons other than their teachers and this enhances creation of diversified ideas unlike when the students are solely relying on their teachers.
Therefore, it is necessary that teachers try to incorporate technology in their curriculum, for the benefit of their students. Many schools have advanced in using the web pages and since it has enhanced efficiency in learning among these schools, those that have not yet adopted the technology need to come up with means of adapting it into their schools. It is important that students are up-to-date with the progress in computer technology and they need to be well conversant with the programming skills that are useful in helping them implement the web wikis, blogs, quests and other software into their curriculum.
As technology improves, education should also be improved to enhance learning. It is however important that teachers ensure the technology does not change the learning of the students. It should only be used to improve their skills but should not replace the education system, which is most important.
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