Archive for the ‘Webquests’ Category

Digital Learning Congress

October 9th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Pontydysgu is pleased to support the Digital Learning Congress being held in Warsaw on 9th November. Maria Perifanou will be presenting our work in the Webquest2.0 project. The following press release explains what the conference is about.

Touch technologies, interactive mobile devices, extended reality, gamification and social media not only change the dimension of business communication, but also the approach to conveying and managing knowledge in a firm. The manner of acquiring information, sharing it and accumulating it has also undergone change. The time has come for business organisations to reflect on what modifications need to be introduced in the area of training and personnel development. How can we educate a new generation of employees who often work in scattered or mobile teams? How can we build a learning environment in an organisation? How can we effectively include new technological solutions for conveying and managing digital knowledge in a company?

You will find out the answers to these questions by participating in the Digital Learning Congress. The first Central European meeting of the technology-supported training industry will be held on 9 November 2012 in the Copernicus Science Centre in Warsaw. Leading experts from European countries in the field of conveying and managing digital knowledge in companies will present the latest trends in development and practical application.

During the congress four thematic tracks (two of which will be transmitted online), meetings and displays will be held, during which it will be possible to get to know the practical application of technologies and techniques supporting the teaching process. By taking part in the event, you will be able to find out the results of implementing Knowledge Pills Methodology in companies, and of e-teaching of scattered teams (on the basis of the Collective Blended Learning Methodology).

The Congress’ leading themes will be education and knowledge management in companies by:

  • social interaction in e-learning,
  • using audio/video transmissions and recordings,
  • applying gamification in education,
  • using mobile devices.

The full Digital Learning Congress programme is available at

Special guests include Steeve Weeler (Associate Professor of Learning Technology, UK), Gerry Griffin (Skill Pill, UK), Sebastian Walker (SlidePresenter, Germany), Filipe Carrera (Prestin, Portugal) and Allison Rossett – a leading American consultant in teaching, whom we shall be meeting in the form of an interactive webinar.

Among Polish experts, you will be able to meet Marek Hyla of the XY Learning Team, Igor Bielobradek of Deloitte, Piotr Drac of Way2learn, Sebastian Starzyński of PromoPlan, Krzysztof Kuczkowski of eHRP and many other “evangelists” of technology-supported training.

Participation in the event is free of charge. Registration takes place online at The starting date for accepting registrations is 12 September 2012.

The organisers of the Digital Learning Congress are Nowoczesna Firma SA, the Management Observatory Foundation and partners of the Knowledge Pills Methodology and WebQuest for HRM projects. The congress came into being with the European Commission’s financial support under the Leonardo da Vinci Lifelong Learning Programme.

Barriers to e-Learning in SMEs

July 4th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

for the last eighteen months or so Pontydysgu have been a partners in a project called Webquests for HRM coordinated by the  Management Observatory Foundation (MOF) from Poland. The project is developing a Collaborative and Blended Learning model for what we call Webquest 2.0 defined as “an inquiry–oriented activity that takes place basically in a Web 2.0–enhanced, social and inter-active open learning environment, in which the learner can decide to create his own learning paths choosing the Web 2.0 tools and the on–line resources needed for the completion of the final Webquest 2.0 product” (Perifanou, 2011).

The project is funded by the European Commission under as strand of the Lifelong Learning project called ‘the transfer of innovation’. In our particular project, we are seeking to transfer a pedagogy and approach to the use of technology for learning develop in schools and academic education for training in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). We have published the first drafts of the methodology and a guide for trainers on the project web site. Over the last six moths or so, we have been piloting the approach with SMEs in Poland and in the UK.

The following text, which is the draft of an extra chapter for the second, revised edition of the trainers’ manual, relates some of our findings. I think it is particularity interesting because most, if not all of the findings are more generally applicable to the challenge of introducing technology enhanced learning in SMEs.


9. Webquest 2.0 training experiences: Flexibility and Creativity

The first edition of this handbook was published in January, 2012. Since then we have been piloting the use of Webquests 2.0 with Small and Medium Enterprises in Poland and in the UK. The pilots have involved both training trainers in SMEs to create Webquests 2.0 and piloting the Webquests 2.0 themselves with employees of SMEs. We have also piloted different approaches to blending learning, Including using online activities within face to face workshops, and delivering distance learning though the synchronous and asynchronous use of technology. Similarly we have experimented with both individual tasks and group tasks through the pilot Webquests 2.0. In the process of the pilots we have learnt a great deal about the issues involved in using Webquests 2.0 for HRM in Small and Medium Enterprises. This extra chapter in the second edition of the manual summarises some of the issues we have discovered and more importantly what trainers may need to do to deal with these issues.

9.1 Platforms

For our initial pilot Webquests 2.0 we used a wiki on PB Works as a platform. Although not open source, PB Works is free to educational organisations. However the licensing costs for use on commercial organisations may prove a barrier to take up in SMEs. We have subsequently experimented with a number of different platforms including the free and open source WordPress Content Management system. We have found that some organisations do not wish to use a separate platform but wish to incorporate the Webquests 2.0 within their own Enterprise Systems such as Microsoft Sharepoint. Conversely some organisations have told us they are looking for more flexible and cheaper solutions than their present organisation web platforms.

9.2 Web 2.0 tools

In the handbook we have drawn attention to a wide range of powerful Web 2.0 and social software tools that can be incorporated within Webquests 2.0 and can be used to develop a rich, collaborative and immersive learning experience.

In practice we have encountered a number of issues. Organisational firewalls are a particular problem. Whilst some organisations are relatively open in their policies, many firewall particular applications and tools. This can be a serious problem, for instance when employees are unable to view YouTube videos. In some cases we have been able to persuade system administrators to provide access to us to tools needed for training sessions with Webquests 2.0, in others we have been able to persuade them to review their policies, pointing out the value of these applications for learning. In still other cases, we have had to revise our training courses and Webquests 2.0  to reflect the security policies of the organisation.

Useful tip:

Whatever the answer, if you are developing a Webquest 2.0 you need to pay attention to this issue in advance.

We also found that trainers and SME employees often had only a limited knowledge of and experience of using Web 2.0 and social software tools. Almost all enjoyed learning about these tools in the course of the training sessions we organised and trainers in particular appreciated how they could use these tools in their own training practice. However, there was a tendency for learning about the tools to take over the whole dynamic and subject of the workshops. It was also felt that providing too many tools could be intimidating for trainees in SMEs. Therefore we would recommend that you restrict the number of tools you use in a Webquest 2.0, particular for those with less experience of using computers. The tools need to be chosen carefully. Some tools may promote greater collaboration and creativity but may be more difficult to use. Conversely, some tools may be easy to use but have little added value to promoting creative learning and higher order thinking skills.

Useful tip:

Remember that you will have to support learning about the topic and learning about the tools at the same time and think about the best strategy for doing this.

9.3 Blended Learning

One of the main successes of the pilots was the use of different forms of blended learning. Many organisations had not used computers intensively as part of a face to face training session and appreciated its potential. Equally participants were grateful for the opportunity to access the Webquests 2.0 and the learning materials after the training sessions. However one of the issues in this mode of blended learning was access to computers. Whilst in a number of SMEs we were able to find dedicated computer training rooms the layout of these rooms limited opportunities for groupwork and collaboration. One organisation was able to provide laptops for all participants and this worked much better. Whatever the solution, the layout and design of the learning space in a face to face session needs conscious attention.

In some of the pilots we used a mixture of face to face and online learning. This was seen as very successful with many organisations beginning to appreciate the potential of online learning for professional development and training in their organisations. This was particularly so with SMEs with a geographically dispersed workforce.

Furthermore, a number of the Webquests 2.0 involved the development of practice in the use of soft skills in SMEs. It was felt that learning about these practice based skills in a classroom was inappropriate. Online learning could provide better integration with practice in the workplace.

However, one of the issues this raised was the skills and competences of the trainers. Training on line involves many of the skills and competences that any good trainer will have. It is not the same as face to face training and may involve extra competences. We do not have space in this handbook to go into these in detail. At a minimum, we would recommend that any trainer providing e-learning and Webquests 2.0 online for the first time should themselves first participate in an elearning course or session and reflect on the similarities and differences and how they need to adapt their practice to cope with the opportunities and difficulties online training and learning provides. In particular they need to think about how they can support their trainees on line. It may involve the use of different tools and a different way of organising work, as well as knowledge in using computers and a broad variety of software.

9.4 Producing Webquests 2.0 is time consuming

One of the major issues that arose was the time it took to develop a Webquest 2.0. This brings us close to the heart of the problem that led us to develop the Webquest 2.0 project. Producing any online learning materials is time consuming. Of course it is possible to buy off the shelf, online training packages. However, these often do not meet the diverse needs of employees in SMEs. Once more, it is possible to commission commercially produced bespoke training materials. But this is very expensive.

In reality, producing any training materials is time consuming. It is only if these materials are reused that the unit cost becomes cheaper. This is also so for online training such as Webquests 2.0. Producing bespoke a Webquest 2.0 for an individual group will be expensive. We know it is important that the Webquest meets the needs of particular groups of learners. We would suggest that over time the speed of production will increase as trainers become more familiar with the approach and the tools and develop a bank of reusable content and materials. At the same time we would emphasise that online training is not just a cheap alternative to traditional forms of training. Our major motivation is to improve the quality and effectiveness of training and learning, not just to reduce cost. SME managers need to appreciate that they will have to invest in trainers’ time if they are to reap the benefits that online learning through Webquests 2.0 can bring. We will return to this issue further on in this section of the manual.

9.5 Self Directed Learning

The aim of the Collaborative Blended Learning Model (CBLM) is to develop and support self motivated and self regulated learning. Concerns were expressed that such an approach requires new skills from both trainers and learners, especially as much traditional training in SMEs is quite strongly trainer directed.  To some extent this concern may be justified. Learners may have little experience of self directed learning and may lack the skills and motivation to plan and direct their own learning. But this may also reflect a misunderstanding. The overall aim of the Webquest for HRM project is to develop self directed and self motivated learning as we believe such processes are critical to the development of lifelong learning in SMEs. On the other hand, we acknowledge the key role of trainers in providing appropriate support for learners at every stage in a Webquest 2.0. Without this support we will never achieve our ultimate goal.

9.6 Open and closed evaluation

In the manual we propose sharing the outputs from a Webquest 2.0 through the Worldwide web as a means of gaining community feedback and evaluation. Some enterprises are not prepared to allow their employees to do this. We understand there may be legitimate concerns over security and competition, however, in general, we feel the advantages in allowing employees to use Web 2.0 tools and social software in a responsible manner outweigh the dangers for SMEs.

9.7 Sharing Resources

As we said above, one of our motivations in developing the Webquest for HRM project and CBLM manual was to stimulate the development of high quality, online learning materials for use in Small and Medium Enterprises. We were aware that creating a Webquest 2.0 was time consuming. However, we felt that if trainers were prepared to share the Webquests 2.0 they had produced we could develop a dynamic repository of high quality materials. To that end we have worked on developing a rubric for evaluating the quality of the Webquests 2.0. Our initial pilots have revealed that most SMEs are not prepared to openly share learning materials. They either see these as providing competitive advantage or want to sell such materials to others. We believe such an approach to be short sighted and would urge enterprises to consider carefully the most advantageous long term strategy in developing e-learning and e-learning materials. We also note that when the idea of Open Educational Resources first emerged in the education sector, many institutions had a similar reaction. However most are now embracing OERs. Of course trainers will have to respect company policies in licensing Webquests 2.0. But we urge enterprise managers and trainers to think carefully before ruling out sharing resources.

9.8 Flexibility and Creativity

We have attempted to develop models and tools that can help trainers to produce high quality Webquests 2.0 to use in their own training practice. As part of this we have developed the seven step Learning Circles framework and templates to follow in developing a Webquest 2.0.

However, some of the trainers with whom we have piloted the Webquests 2.0 and tools, have felt the template and model to be too prescriptive and too restrictive for what they want to do. Of course any model is just that – a model. And templates are meant to be adapted and changed to meet particular needs.

Useful tip:

If you feel some parts of the model do not meet your needs, this is fine. Similarly feel free to change the templates to suit the needs of your trainees.

Our main aim is to develop flexible and creative training opportunities. And for that to happen we need to engage with trainers who can make flexible and creative use of the opportunities which technology provide for learning.


What we’ve been doing

April 10th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

the last three months have been pretty hectic. So much that I have been somewhat lackadaisical in posting on this blog. Partly it has been due to the sheer volume of work and also traveling so much. For some reason I always find it difficult to blog when I am on the road. Another reason is that a lot of the work has been developmental and has naturally generated a series of notes and emails but little writing. Its time to make amends.

In this post I will give a short run down on what we have been up to. Over the next couple of weeks I will post in a bit more detail about the different projects and ideas. All the work shares a series of ideas in common:

  • The work is based on the ideas of open education and open data
  • The projects seek to enable practitioners to develop their own learning materials
  • Most of the project incorporate various elements of social software but more importantly seek to utilise social software functionality to develop a shared social dimension to learning and knowledge sharing
  • Most of the work supports both face to face and online learning. However we have been looking hard at how learning and knowledge development is socially mediated in different contexts.

Open Data

Over the last year we have been working with a series of ideas and applications for using open data for careers guidance. Supported by the Mature-IP project, by Careers Wales and Connexions Northumberland and more lately UKCES, we have been looking at how to use open data around Labour Market Information for careers advice and guidance. Needless to say, it has not proved as easy as we thought, raising a whole series of issues around target users, mediation,  and data sources, data reliability and data interpretation, amongst others.

We have encountered a series of technical issues but these can be overcome. More important is understanding the social uses of open data for learning and decision making which is much harder!

Webquests 2.o

The original idea of  Webquests was based around a series of questions designed to encourage learners to search for new meaning and deeper understanding using web based tools and resources. Although Webquests have been used for some time in schools and colleges, we have been working to adopt an updated Webquest 2.0 approach to the needs of learners in Small and Medium Enterprises. These inquiry–oriented activities take place in a Web 2.0–enhanced, social and interactive open learning environment (face to face and/or on–line) that combine at the same time collaborative learning with self–paced learning.

Once more, this work has posed a series of challenges. While we have been pretty successful in using webquests 2.0 with SMEs, it has proved harder to enable practitioners to develop their own online learning materials.

Work based learning

We have been continuing to explore how to use technology to support work based learning and in particular how to use mobile technologies to extend learning to different contexts in Small and Medium Enterprises. We are especially interested in focusing on work practices and how technology can be used to support informal learning and practice in the workplace, rather than the acquisition of more formal knowledge. In order to finance this work we have developed a number of funding applications entailing both background research and (more enjoyably) visits to different companies.

We are fairly confident that we will get support to take this work forward in the near future.

Social media and social empowerment

We have been looking at how to use social media and in particular internet radio, not for promoting social inclusion, but for giving a voice and opportunity for expression to those excluded form access to traditional education and media. Once more, we are confident that we will be able to launch a new initiative around this in the next couple of months.

We will be publishing more about this work over the next couple of weeks. If you are interested in any of these ideas or projects please get in touch.

Developing Collaborative Blended Learning and Knowledge Development in SMEs through Webquest 2.0

January 29th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

I haven’t been posting as much as I would like lately. This is due to the European project bidding season (more on that soon) and due to a lot of work on the Webquest 2.0 project (about which I have been intending to write). Anyway, here for starters is an abstract written by Maria Pedrifanou and myself for the ECER 2012 conference.

Developing Collaborative Blended Learning and Knowledge Development in SMEs through Webquest 2.0

Whilst educational technology has been adopted for use in large enterprises, research suggests there is little use of ICT for learning in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) (Attwell, 2007). One reason for this may be the limited provision of Continuing Professional Training opportunities in SMEs. Yet SMEs are seen as critical for economic growth and the creation of employment and rapid technological change and changes in materials, ecological and quality requirements and changes in the organisation of work require the development and deployment of new competences.

Through a European Commission funded Transfer of Innovation project, Webquest 2.0, the authors have developed and are piloting a new pedagogic approach to CPD in SMEs.

The name ‘webquest’ is comprised of two parts: a) ‘Web’ – to indicate that the World Wide Web is used as the primary resource in applying, analysing, synthesising and evaluating information, and b) ‘Quest’ – to indicate that a question is presented within the webquest, which encourages learners to search for new meaning and deeper understanding (Pelliccione L. and Craggs G.J., 2007).

Webquest 2.0 activities stake advantage of the possibilities that current Web 2.0 technologies offer and are based on a revised Webquest framework created for teachers and trainers.

The aim is to develop effective, complex, authentic learning and training environments. Trainers should be able to design and develop their own content and generate learning materials that can help their trainees and can also be shared with others.

The development of the Webquest 2.0 approach is based on the Collaborative Blended Learning Model (CBML) (Perifanou, 2011). There are four key elements to the model. Firstly the model is based on the idea that Webquest activities can be undertaken face to face, in a blended model of face-to-face and online learning, or purely on line. Secondly it is based on a mix of individual and small group activities which collectively allow participants to explore a larger question or theme. Thirdly the Webquest should generate outcomes which can form an organisational learning resource for a community of practice beyond the initial learning activities. Finally the webquests are based on a seven-stage model – Learning Circles – which both scaffolds learning and provides templates for trainers to create webquests.

The model and the webquests are being piloted with SMEs in Poland, the UK and Sweden.


In the first phase of the project the Collaborative Blended Learning model was elaborated resulting in the publication of a research handbook. Based on this model twenty initial webquests were developed in close collaboration between trainers and project partners. Following this, a handbook for trainers was produced and a evaluation framework developed.

The webquests and handbook are currently being piloted in workshops with SMEs in Poland and The UK. This includes workshops piloting the webquests developed in the initial phase of the project and workshops for trainers to produce webquest themselves for use in their organisations.

The outcomes of these workshops will be evaluated, and the research handbook and handbook for trainers revised.

This, in turn, will lead to another round of piloting in SMEs in the late spring of 2012.

The initial webquests utilise a commercial wiki, PB works, as the main technical platform. It is intended to transfer the webquests to an Open Source wiki to minimise costs for deployment by SMEs.

Conclusions / Expected Outcomes / Findings

There are a series of hypotheses which are being tested through the project.

Firstly, the project is developing an updated Web 2.0 approach to webquests seeking to scaffold learning in a Web 2.0–enhanced, social and interactive open learning environment.

Secondly the project is transferring an approach and methodology for learning in a Web 2.0–enhanced, social and interactive open learning environment previously develop din a school based and language learning context for training in SMEs.

Thirdly the project is seeking to develop a flexible approach to learning in a Web 2.0–enhanced, social and interactive open learning environment, facilitating a mixture of Face to face Blended and online learning.

Fourthly the project is seeking to facilitate the development of wiki based learning materials by trainers themselves.

Fifthly the project is seeking to develop an approach to developing organisational knowledge resources for communities of practice though training activities.

The evaluation of the initial workshops are extremely positive. The paper will be based on a full evaluation of the project activities and will explore the success or otherwise of our initial hypotheses.


Attwell, G. (2007) Searching, Lurking and the Zone of Proximinal Development: e-learning in Small and Medium Enterprises, Vienna: Navreme

Pelliccione, D. L., & Craggs, G. J. (2007). WebQuests: an online learning strategy to promote cooperative learning and higher-level thinking. Paper presented at AARE Conference, 2007.

Perifanou M. (2011) Web 2.0 – New era of Internet tools in learning and teaching Italian as a foreign language – WebQuest 2.0 activities and  Collaborative Blended Learning Model. Proposals of blended learning. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Athens.

What we are working on

August 30th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

Here is a quick update on some current work at Pontydysgu. With funding from the European Lifelong Learning Programme G8WAY project and the European Research Framework Mature-IP project, and working with a growing community of partners, we have been developing a series of Web 2.0 tools to support careers guidance. At the moment we are developing a  new web site which will give full access to these tools and applications, as well as to research about the use of Web 2.0 and social software for careers information, advice and guidance. Below is a summary of these tools. If you are interested in finding out more about any of these tools or about our approach to using technology to support careers guidance please get in touch.

Labour Market Visualisation Tools

We are developing tools and applications for visualising Labour Market Information in order to provide young people with an informed basis for decision making around career directions and to support the careers guidance professionals who advise young people. This work has been undertaken in conjunction with the Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick and Careers Wales.


RadioActive is a project using internet radio to assist young people, particularly those from a NEETS (Not in Employment, Education, or Training) background in developing decision making and communication skills. This approach focuses on informal learning and the development of communities of practice through the use of new technologies. The approach is being piloted in conjunction with the University of East London, Yoh, a Hackney based youth agency, and Inspire!, the Education Business Partnership for the London Borough of Hackney.


Storiboard is a Web 2.0 tool for storytelling. In the first year of the G8WAY project we found that storytelling is a powerful tool for developing and reflection on careers biographies. Storiboard allows young people to use multimedia including video, audio and graphics to tell their careers stories and aspirations. It is initially being tested  through using the original stories collected in year one of the project and will then be piloted with UK based careers services.


We are developing a series of Web 2.0 webquests designed to support professional development for Careers Guidance professionals. The first two are on the use of the internet for Careers Guidance and on careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). Along with our technical partners, Raycom, we are developing a lightweight repository which combined with the Storiboard interface, will provide for easy editing and development of Webquests.

Webquests 2.0 and Collaborative Blended Learning

February 15th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

We have just started a new project on Webquests. The idea is to use Webquests and a Collaborative Blended Learning model for learning with trainers in Small and Medium Enterprise in Poland, focused on Human Resources Management.

The project is funded by the European Commission under a programme called the Transfer of Innovation. Pontydysgu’s Maria Perifanou has previously been using Webquests for language learning in Greece. Now we intend to develop the learning processes to new groups of learners in new countries and at the same time update the ‘old’ Wequest idea to utilise Web 2.0 technologies.

As in any transnational project one of the first challenges in developing a shared idea of what we are all talking about! And the presentation above by Maria is intended to help us develop that process.

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