Game-Changer: Operationalizing the Common Core using WebQuests and ‘Gamification' in Teacher Education

Game-Changer: Operationalizing the Common Core using WebQuests and ‘Gamification' in Teacher Education

Roberta Levitt, Joseph Piro
DOI: 10.4018/ijwltt.2014070104
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Technology integration and Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-based education have enhanced the teaching and learning process by introducing a range of web-based instructional resources for classroom practitioners to deepen and extend instruction. One of the most durable of these resources has been the WebQuest. Introduced around the mid-1990s, it involves an inquiry-centered activity in which some or all of the information learners interact with comes from digital artifacts located on the Internet. WebQuests still retain much of their popularity and educational relevance and have shown remarkable staying power. Because of this, recontextualizing the WebQuest and situating it within the modern-day trend of the “gamification” of instructional design is examined, together with how the WebQuest can promote solid academic gain by placing students inside a learning space patterned after a multi-user virtual environment. This structure includes emphasis on teamwork and socially responsible problem-solving, intense task immersion, task game flow and scalability, and reward cycles. The authors also discuss how including an upgraded WebQuest informed by Common Core Grade-Specific Learning Standards in pre-service education curriculum can advance multiple facets of teacher education with candidates who are acquiring, learning, applying, and integrating pedagogical, technological, and content-area skills. Further, the authors offer suggestions for new directions in the use of web-based resources in 21st century education enterprise.
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Teacher Preparation And The Digital Age

A pedagogical shift has occurred driven by the forces of disruptive technology effectively altering and expanding the role of teacher from that of, primarily, knowledge “dispenser” to learning systems manager, guiding students through individualized learning pathways and creating connected and collaborative learning opportunities (American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, 2010; Christensen, Horn, & Johnson, 2008). With the onset of Web 2.0 and the practice of immersive learning, the “technologizing of schools” has created the need for what might be called the “cyber-teacher,” a new learning agent who conceptualizes teaching as a transformative, dynamic, and visionary experience (Lawless & Pellegrino, 2007; Piro & Marksbury, 2012). However, despite the nearly unanimous agreement on the need for this type of instructional professional, many teacher education programs across the U.S. continue to be notoriously slow in programmatic modifications and enhancements to ensure this outcome, not demonstrating the leadership or vision to break the teacher education mold and champion new directions for educators-in-training (Clifford, Friesen, & Lock, 2004; Sheldon, 2012).

As Foray and Raffo (2012) note:

The educational sector is often characterized by experts as a sector suffering from an innovation deficit and a structural inability to advance instructional technologies and practical knowledge and knowhow about pedagogy at the same rate as what is occurring in some other sectors. (p. 6)

How pre-service teacher training not only exposes but embeds future educators in instructional technologies research and practice will be a critical link in the teaching cycle whose end point is the delivery of meaningful, utilitarian, and effective pedagogy across the nation’s K-12 schools. The ultimate goal of this training must be the turning out teachers ready for networked, globalized, and technology-driven digital classrooms that increasingly populate the American education landscape (Davis & Falba, 2002; Dawson, Pringle, & Adams, 2003; Kelly, & McAnear, 2002; National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, 1997; Thomas, 1999; Thompson, Schmidt, & Davis, 2003). Utilizing an operational standpoint, this article will focus on how teacher education programs in the U.S. can become more responsive to preparing a new generation of teachers to match the expectations of a 21st century post-industrial, high-tech, global society (Blackboard, 2013; Vander Ark, 2011).

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