Walk the Net for learning

Walk the Net is a platform that allows you to create or participate in guided web walks on a variety of topics. It’s based on the idea of learning as a guided journey.

You can log in via Facebook to create walks, but you can view walks even without logging in. You just won’t be able to receive badges for completing a walk.

Steps and instructional strategies

Walk  the Net is built to allow you to create meaningful learning experiences from internet resources. There’s a walk to help you learn how to walk and how to guide others through walks. However, I’m also including an overview and some tips here.

Walks include Start, Explore, ReflectAct, and Finish steps.

The Start step is an orientation step where you describe a problem and grab your learners’ attentions. You can also provide some advance organizers to prepare your learner for the walk and/or list objectives here. You have limited media options when you create a Start step.

An Explore step ideally provides  a basic framework for the learning experience. A dash of Gagné might be useful here.  For example, consider helping learners see how a walk connects to prior experiences they might have.

You also can provide learning guidance by:

  • Providing examples and non-examples of concepts
  • Demonstrating procedures or including guided simulations
  • Telling stories that relate to different concepts and principles
  • Pointing out common challenges or trouble spots
  • Showing principles in action

You can include multiple Explore steps and can make these steps mandatory or optional. You can also vary the sequence of Explore steps to include these steps after Reflect and Act steps as well as before. For example, rather than suggesting approaches to overcome a challenge before a Reflect or Act step, you might let learners try their hands at the challenge first and provide information about suggested approaches after they’ve experimented with their own approaches.

As the name implies, a Reflect step allows you to pose discussion questions and stimulate metacognitive thinking. You can use some of the interactive tools the platform provides, such as poll questions, multiple choice questions, and fill-in-the box questions. You can also pose  more open-ended questions though you won’t be able to register your learners’ answers directly. You can link to another site with a discussion or chat forum as a work around.

An Act step can require a learner to evaluate, synthesize, and/or create. A learner can respond immediately to a call to action or can request a reminder, setting a desired time period to complete the action. As a facilitator of the learning experience, you can put learners on their honor or require some evidence that the act is completed. The system will provide feedback acknowledging this submission on the learners’ “your page.”

The Finish step can be used to allow learners to view any remaining steps that need to be completed. Learners are also asked 3 evaluation questions to help someone who’s created a walk to create better walks.

Creating a Walk: nuts and bolts

You gain access to a walk editor and step editor via the “your page” Web page. The process is fairly straight forward and guided by text cues. There are few things I want to point out.

Your choice of media options in a Step page will depend on whether you’ve identified it as an Explore, Reflect, or Act Step.

Explore page options
In an Explore page, you gain access to Rich Text, Links, or Video options. You can control the position of these various media types on the Step page that the learner sees.

Rich text allows you to add text and hyperlinks but not images. You have access to basic formatting tools.

When you add a link, you don’t just create a hyperlink, you create an embedded view of the page you’ve linked to,  You’re limited to three links per step.  Each link you add appears as a separate tab.

Although you can’t add images via the rich text box, you can include an image by linking to it.

You can insert a YouTube or Vimeo video into an Explore step page. You do this not by copying the entire link, as you may be used to, but by copying its 11 character identifier (e.g., in a YouTube video, everything to the right of the equal sign).

Reflect page options
In a Reflect page, you gain access to Rich Text, Multiple Choice, and Fill-in-the-box options. Somewhat counter intuitively, it’s by selecting the Fill-in-the-box option, that you’ll be able to create a poll.

Act page options
When you create an Act page, your choices are Rich Text and Action. Rich text will allow you to create more context for your action. The Action option allows you to require a learner to submit evidence that an action’s been completed. You may additionally require human verification that an action’s been completed satisfactorily.

An example of a Web walk

My web walk’s not ready for prime time yet, but you should check out this great resource created by Bert de Coutere, “Creating Games With Thinking Worlds.”

A Web walk is not a Web quest

A Web quest generally is created around a problem/challenge and requires learners to scavenge the Web for resources that will help them solve the problem/master the challenge. However, a Web quest may include Web pages as resources and to provide helpful starter materials.

In contrast, a Web walk is more structured and provides learners with all the Web resources they will need to solve a problem or master a challenge, though of course, learners may explore the Web on their own for additional information. Although a Web walk is set forth as a series of linear steps, learners are not obligated to follow each step in order. They  are required to access each Step page and mark it completed if they’d like to obtain a badge for finishing a Walk. Learners must complete an Act step as part of this process, although as noted, a walk creator may decide to put a learner on his or her honor when indicating the act is completed.

Badgered by badges

When learners complete all the steps of a walk, they’re awarded a badge, which they can post to their Facebook page. Although badges can be a game element, I have to note that badges do not turn a Web walk into a game.  If a walk isn’t relevant, interesting,  challenging, and fun, badges will be something a learner could care less about and might even serve to dampen enthusiasm. (More about this in a later post.)

Bottom line: Walk the Net is a  platform that allows you to create interactive guided learning challenges using a variety of media resources culled from the internet. You can also benefit from the great guided walks created by others. (I know I’m going to be exploring  the “Creating Games With Thinking Worlds” walk.)

3 responses to “Walk the Net for learning

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Walk the Net for learning | Instructional Design Fusions -- Topsy.com

  2. Pingback: Walk the Net for learning « Learning Change

  3. Pingback: Instructional Strategies – Walk the Net for learning [07Jan11] | The Book

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