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New GeSCI ICT TPD Webquest

The webquest has been around for over 10 years and is hardly considered a cutting-edge e-learning application. But are its learning affordances overlooked because of its relative simplicity? Gagne's taxonomy of learning which is the basis for the webquest, supports the theory that there are different dimensions of learning and that different dimensions require diverse methods of instruction, including verbal information, intellectual skills, cognitive strategies, attitudes and motor skills. These are methods of instruction many of us might assume teach basic skills early on in school (an assumption often proved false in even the most developed countries).

Such skills include selecting a specific mental process to solve a problem or completing a task; performing a physical task to a given standard; classifying things according to their abstract (and to some extent physical) characteristics and applying a complex method (or many different simpler methods) to solve a problem.Imagine an education system with curricula bursting at the seams, with classes crammed with students of wildly varying ages and ability, and an overwhelmed and underqualified teacher at the helm. These 'basic' skills are not to be taken for granted in schools in many of the world's poorest countries (not to mention wealthiest). In these circumstances a webquest, as well as introducing basic ICTs to those unfamiliar with them, also gives a teacher control of learning objectives and outcomes in a very challenging environment with limited resources.At GeSCI we will be piloting the ICT Teacher Professional Development webquest with partners in Sub-Saharan Africa,many of whom have not had an opportunity to immerse themselves in e-learning. In this situation, a webquest, delivered through a well-planned workshop can build understanding of the learning and teaching affordances of ICTs through collaboration and cooperation, without distracting participants from the learning objectives of the workshop. After all, it is not the sophistication of the technology that counts, but its ease-of-use, its practicability, its accessibility and its contribution to achieving learning objectives.

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