Mini-webquest: Brains of rats connected via internet

This one is a suggestion I made as tutor on our Technology for Language Learning course (hello, everyone in Hyderabad!), where we were looking at webquests.

I've never been a big fan of full-blown Bernie Dodge type webquests, much preferring mini-webquests in which you have learner-generated questions.

The recent headline in The Guardian "Brains of rats connected via internet" caught my eye as being something learners would be curious about (and never do a webquest unless you think that will be the case!)

How about this…?

  • Dictate the headline to the class
  • Have them in pairs talk about it for several minutes — what do they think? (Asking "is it a hoax?" sometimes works well!)
  • Ask "Any questions?"
  • Have a learner note the questions digitally (on an interactive whiteboard page, in a new class blog post, on Edmodo…)
  • Provide the link to the article
  • Possibly outside classtime, have the learners see how many of their questions they can answer either from the article or from elsewhere on the internet
  • Allow (encourage!) all other debate (is it ethical..? etc), which can be either oral or via written "comments" on the class blog or Edmodo group

Note also how the readers' comments on the article (as I write, 400+) can also be exploited (how are people reacting…? etc).

Some kind of mini-presentation afterwards, perhaps in pairs, each pair with 2 minutes max to present either the pros or the cons, can also be a good idea, especially if the topic has excited the interest of your learners.

What do you think…?

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  1. The next edition of the course, for anyone interested, starts April 22nd.

  2. I confess to scanning at least the front page of The Guardian every morning, not to keep myself informed but to find stuff for class).

    Definitely 2 mins. well spent. Give me "The Guardian" any day, rather than a coursebook!

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