Reading screens: A critical visual analysis

Nice to see Zoe Williamson and Jen Ross speaking again, this time about WebQuest projects in schools as part of a joint national museum initiative. Great to hear about Webquests again, as I recall using these a number of years ago when I taught high school.

The WebQuests in this project included developing critical thinking and interpreting skills using resources from at least 3 of the partner museums. These are not value-neutral exercises (after all, what education is devoid of some values or another?), and they are based on deep assumptions around teaching and learning. Since some of the websites were not even accessible via some of the schools they worked with, the researchers referred to this as irelated to ssues of control, restraint, and surveillance.

They were able  to show us an example of a WebQuest from the Wallace Collection. The pages were colorful and framed clearly to direct what student learners should do and where they should go next. It is instructor-focused, with clear instructions for the students to follow. There were no examples of Web 2.0 or learner-focused screens or locations. They then demonstrated a possibility for how these WebQuests can be redesigned to be more consistent with their own experience as being more open-ended and student-focused. As a former instructional (learning designer, I always find this sort of work interesting).

They made a good point about how students continued to click ahead to get to the task they had to accomplish to therefore be complient, and not necessarily engaged in the pages and the learning. Alas, their work demonstrates that while more work and advancement for using technologies in education are increasing, a lot of work still remains to be done.