2 June 2015

ZUNAL: WebQuests (Web 2.0 Tool 1)

For my current MEd. module, I am exploring Web 2.0 tools that can enhance learning. WebQuests are characterised by inquiry-based learning activities often involving an element of collaboration. I decided to look for tools in this area, as successful well-designed WebQuests address essential twenty-first century skills, such as critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity, and are a way of bringing together the most effective instructional practices into one integrated student activity.
The first WebQuests were used in 1995, by San Diego State University’s Bernie Dodge and Tom March. They developed a type of lesson plan that incorporated links to, from, and along the World Wide Web that they termed a “WebQuest” (Zunal, 2001). I first studied WebQuests in a previous MEd. module and used Weebly to develop a scavenger hunt using a WebQuest structure called, 'The Hunt for Dracula' (Fairbrother, 2014). I found that successful WebQuests should engage learners in problem-solving and allow them to draw their own conclusions meaning the resources provided should allow for many different possible results. Knowing that WebQuests address so many key skills means that educators want to include them as part of their teaching repertoire. However, many teachers new to using educational technology may not feel comfortable in designing one of their own. This is where Zunal.com can help.

Zunal: Features & Tools

Zunal is a "web-based software for creating WebQuests in a short time without writing any HTML codes" and offers a "free service for Preservice and Inservice teachers, and faculty to create WebQuests" (Zunal.com, 2001).

Zunal boasts an easy  five step process to the creation of your WebQuest:
Zunal, 2001
Whilst you must register and create a free account to use it, this is an easy and quick process and I got immediate access.

The features of Zunal include:
Zunal, 2001
 There is also the option to include interactive features to engage learners:
Zunal, 2001
The site hosts menu of WebQuests by subject, a list of the 15 most favourited WebQuests, a search bar, a list of recently reviewed WebQuests, the 20 most visited WebQuests, as well as recently published list, which members are all able to access. 

However, what is not mentioned clearly is that many of these enhanced features requires a Professional account, which costs $20 for three years. 
Zunal, 2001

Example Zunal WebQuest

The most recently published was a 'Romeo and Juliet Background Knowledge' WebQuest (Romero, 2015). The Welcome page includes details of the WebQuest including target Grade Level and Curriculum used.
Jose Romero, 2015 on Zunal.com
The side bar features the required elements of a WebQuest:
Jose Romero, 2015 on Zunal,com
  • Introduction. This is an overview (often a simple one) of what is to come. 
  • Task. This page details the assignment that is to come. Tasks are often comprised of numbered lists of items that must be accomplished to complete the quest.
  • Process. The Process is the meat of the quest — it is here that students work together, develop plans of action, and find ways to solve the presented problem. 
  • Evaluation. The evaluation phase centers on a “rubric,” a carefully designed chart listing goals for the quest and the standards by which performance will be measured. 
  • Conclusion. This is a brief summary, that wraps up the project.
  • Teacher Page. Instructors are provided with their own subsection of the WebQuest site, with instructions for each of the above sections. Teachers who develop WebQuests often fill this section with information to help other educators adapt the quest to their own class (Zunal, 2001).

Creating My Own WebQuest


Navigating to my Dashboard, I am able to create a profile as well as view my account settings and created or favourited WebQuests. Zunal also offers the ability of creating a classroom website that is only accessible by your students. 

Clicking on Create a WebQuest gives me option to create one from scratch OR adapt an existing WebQuest, which is great for beginners and helps prevent teachers from reinventing the wheel (which happens far too often). HOWEVER, this feature requires a Professional account

Creating a new WebQuest was easy. Once I had named it, a template opened with the essential components ready for me to edit. Adding an image and updating the Welcome page was as simply as clicking the buttons and uploading the image or adding the relevant information. 


At this point, it was also possible to change the name of the WebQuest:

Once saved, it was easy to add other resources by simply clicking on the button and choosing from the menu of Basic, Group, Video (from YouTube as well as other video-hosting sites) and Web 2.0 (which includes Voki and Glogster) - simply by pasting the URL. 

Other sections can be added to by clicking on the relevant sections in the left hand menu bar.

For beginners, Zunal offers advice of what is required for each part of the WebQuest:


For the Introduction element for example, a Help box provides ideas and features of what should be included in the Introduction. Clicking on 'Update Content' allows you to add the relevant information. A box at the bottom provides the information again, along with a rubric for an effective introduction. An example feature states 'coming soon'. This information was available on each of the sections.


The language, background image and menu colour can be changed using the 'Settings' option in the left hand bar:
You can view what my sample WebQuest looks like by clicking HERE. It is not complete as I was only exploring, but this took me less than five minutes to complete what you can see.

Pros and Cons

Cons:
  • It is not strictly free. Whilst the cost is minimal many features require a paid account.
  • Limited layout and customisable options.
  • You can only create ONE WebQuest for free.
  • No collaboration - unless you pay.
Pros:
  • Easy to use for teachers who have no experience of building websites.
  • Provides ready to go templates that adhere to the requirements of WebQuests.
  • Resources can be added very simply.
  • A WebQuest could be created within 30 minutes (if all information is ready to go).
  • Huge resource of ready-made WebQuests available.