26 July 2008

0 Sage on the Stage to the Guide on the Side

Shifting from Teacher Centered to Student Centered Learning

As educators, we are asked to explore new dimensions to our roles by shifting from “Sage on the Stage to the Guide on the Side”. The shift from teacher-centered to student-centered requires the educator to facilitate the acquisition of knowledge by guiding the student towards the process of discovery and inquiry.

WebQuests offer the student the opportunity to engage in their own learning by the means of critical thinking, problem solving and exploring intriguing questions.

What is a WebQuest?

Designed/originated by Professor Bernie Dodge and Tom March (San Diego State University), WebQuests are online curriculum modules which engage the student in learning about an authentic topic or problem. Supporting the learner’s thinking on levels of analysis, synthesis and evaluation – the higher level of Bloom’s Taxonomy, WebQuests initiate cooperative activities, whereby, the student assume different roles relative to a realistic problem.

Students develop/create a product which demonstrates their knowledge of the problem and its potential solutions. The use of the Internet is usually the main information resource, although other more traditional resources (i.e. magazines, journals, books) are available.

Why WebQuests?

  • Engages the student in higher-level cognition skills (i.e. analyze, interpret, draw inferences).
  • Student-centered
  • Inquiry-based
  • Requires decision-making
  • Promotes communication and collaboration
  • Increases student motivation
  • Exhibits resourcefulness and creativity
  • Builds knowledge by synthesizing information
  • Fosters an interdisciplinary approach to learningRequires reflection and self-evaluation

The Six Building Blocks of WebQuests


  • Introduce a real-life dilemma, which the students must solve.
  • Orients the student and establishes a clear purpose for the WebQuest.


  • Description of what the learner will accomplish at the end of the exercise.

Process /Resources

  • The steps that learners should go through in completing the task are included in this section.


  • This section describes the evaluation criteria needed to meet performance and content standards.


  • Summarize what the learners are to accomplish or learn, upon completing the activity or lesson.
  • Provides a natural sense of closure to the activity.

Teacher’s Page

  • Provides background, standards, etc.
  • Activities for the teacher, in preparation for presenting (re: examples of products, etc).

WebQuests offers a way to enrich one’s curricula by fostering student learning through inquiry-oriented activities which incorporate elements of problem-based and project-based learning.

Visit the following sites to learn more or to view completed webquests.

13 July 2008

0 Is Online Learning for You?

People may approach this method of learning with various degrees of skepticism and uncertainty. One may ask:
  • What is online learning?
  • Is online learning for me?

The above are valid questions and unlike traditional courses in which the student and instructor meet face-to-face once or several times a week, online learning is presented through the use of the Internet.

Some course are completely online (i.e. course syllabus, content , learning activities, resources, assignments tests) while others may be partially online (i.e. communicating online through email or discussion board).

Is Online Learning for You?

Online learning is not for everyone. Even if you are an excellent student, you may find that online classes are not compatible with your learning style. Learners who are visual and self-directed tend to do well with online learning. Lifestyles also play an important role to the success of online learning. The following questions may help you decide if online learning is for you

Do you have self discipline, motivation, and good time management skills?

Most of the online learning activities and communication are asynchronous, meaning that class members participate and complete their assignments at different times throughout the day and week. This makes it possible for one to do their class work when it's most convenient. However, with this increased freedom and flexibility comes responsibility. Without the structure of regular class meetings, it will be necessary to pace and keep up with assignments.

Are you able to commit time each day or week to your online course(s)?

Online courses often require at least as much, if not more time and commitment than traditional courses. Completing course assignments and other learning activities may take from five to fifteen hours or more per week. One may even find it necessary to log on almost every day. If you are interested in enrolling, be sure to set aside enough time to keep up with daily or weekly assignments.

Do you have good communication skills and enjoy expressing your ideas in writing?

With online courses, writing is the primary means of communication, so it is important that you feel comfortable expressing yourself in writing.

Do you feel comfortable discussing problems with your instructors?

If you are having problems with the technology or the course content, it will be necessary to inform your instructor as soon as possible. Without this feedback, your instructor will never know what is wrong. Remember that many of the nonverbal cues that one use in the classroom to show frustration, boredom, or confusion (such as a yawn or a look of bewilderment) are not possible in an online class.

Will you miss the experience of sitting in a classroom?

While the level of interaction can be very high in online courses, it is not the same face-to-face interaction. Some online students miss having the opportunity to see/listen to their instructor and classmates. If you feel that a traditional classroom is essential for learning, online classes may not be suitable for you.

Are you comfortable using computers?

The personal computer is the primary learning and communication tool in most online courses. You don't need to be a computer guru to succeed, but you do need to have some basic technology skills, such as word processing and using a Web browser. You will also need regular access to a computer with an Internet connection.

While there are many points to consider when making a decision about online learning, ultimately you are in the best position to know whether it fits your personal learning style and life style. If you have the right qualities to be a successful online student, you will probably find it to be a very convenient and rewarding alternative to traditional classroom learning.

I am a strong proponent of online education. I received my M.Ed. in Educational Technology online through the UT TeleCampus. Check it out! http://telecampus.utsystem.edu/catalog/programs/programinfo/med-edtech.aspx://

Check out the follow self-assessments sites:

Is Online for me? – Self Assessment

Are you a procrastinator? Self help for procrastinator

Index of Learning Styles-Self Assessment

10 July 2008

2 Rubrics...The Creation - Part 4 of 4

Rubrics may be created in a variety of forms and levels of complexity; however, they all contain mutual common features which include the following:

  • Focus on measuring a stated “objective” (performance, behavior, or quality).
  • Use a “range” to rate performance.
  • Include specific performance characteristics, arranged in levels indicating the “degree” to which a particular standard has been met.

There are specific guidelines to utilize when creating a rubric. The following guidelines were adapted from the following Web site: As of today, 10July08...Link is now dead.....http://edweb.sdsu.edu/triton/july/rubics/Rubric_Guidelines.html.

Steps to Rubric Development

  • Determine learning outcomes.
  • Brevity (Include 4 - 15 items, use brief statements or phrases).
  • Each rubric item should focus on a different skill.
  • Center on how the student develops/expresses their learning.
  • Evaluate only measurable criteria.
  • Ideally, the entire rubric should fit on one sheet of paper.
  • Reevaluate the rubric (i.e. Did it work? Was it sufficiently detailed?).

Terms to Use in Measuring Range/Scoring Levels

  • Needs Improvement...Satisfactory...Good…Exemplary.
  • Beginning...Developing...Accomplished...Exemplary.
  • Needs work...Good...Excellent.
  • Novice...Apprentice...Proficient...Distinguished.
  • Numeric scale ranging from 1 to 5.

Concept Words that Convey Various Degrees of Performance

  • Depth...Breadth...Quality...Scope...Extent...Complexity... Degrees...Accuracy.
  • Presence to absence.
  • Complete to incomplete.
  • Many to some to none.
  • Major to minor.
  • Consistent to inconsistent.
  • Frequency: always to generally to sometimes to rarely.

A great deal of preparation is involved when creating a rubric; however, there are a plethora of assessment rubrics which may be found via Internet. Below are several very useful sites:

The above site has a listing of some great rubric internet links.

01 July 2008

0 Rubrics….What and Why? Part 3 of 4

As rubrics become increasingly popular among the education sector, some educators may ask:

  • What are rubrics?
  • Why use rubrics? What is the educational/significant value of utilizing a rubric?
  • How do you create/design a rubric?

The above are valid questions as, by educational standards, the rubric has become a choice of authentic performance-based assessments.

What are Rubrics?

Interestingly enough, the original meaning of “rubric” is derived from the Latin word "rubrica" which, in the mid-15th century, meant the red earth (used by carpenters to mark a line on wood surfaces in order to make accurate cut).

Additionally, “the Oxford English Dictionary states that in the mid-15th century, rubric referred to headings of different sections of a book. This stemmed from the work of Christian monks who painstakingly reproduced sacred literature, invariably initiating each major section of a copied book with a large red letter. Because the Latin word for red is “ruber”, “rubric” came to signify the headings for major divisions of a book.”

In today's terms, rubric takes on a whole new meaning. A rubric is a scoring guide that evaluates a student's performance based on the sum of a full range of criteria, rather than a single numerical score.

Additionally, rubrics are commonly presented in a table format (with specific criteria) which differentiates between various levels of performance, beginning with the highest level - progressing to the lowest. These levels are used to evaluate the set of detailed tasks associates to the final product.

Why Use Rubrics?
According to Heidi Goodrich Andrade, a name synonymous with rubrics/authentic assessment, rubrics are powerful tools for both teaching and assessments, and should be utilized for the following reasons:

  • Explicit /concise guidelines regarding teacher expectations.
  • Provides informative feedback of a student’s overall strengths/weaknesses.
  • Improves the student end product - therefore increases learning.
  • Supports the development of cognitive recognition.Provides the scaffolding necessary to improve the quality of a student’s work, while increasing their knowledge.

Rubrics serve to both inform and improve instruction as well as provide quality, precise feedback to the learner. If designed with clear, concise criteria, rubrics may serve a vital role in creating assessments that are both student-centered and standards driven.

The next posting will discuss both how to create and the resources available for designing rubrics.