The Ten Stages to
Web-Use Nirvana

The idea behind these Ten Stages is to provide a set of milestones for those who use the Web with students or train teachers who do. Too often we get started without laying a foundation. These stages and questions should be seen in a linear order. For example, only go on to stage four if you've already completed stages one - three.
You can use this as an assessment tool to guide your own learning or quickly get a feel for the experience level of participants in your training session. The ideas were generated from of hours of in-servicing and prepared for Tom's upcoming column in MultiMedia Schools magazine. The full text of the article can be viewed online. Some of the strategies below spring from the online article Working the Web for Education.
Stage 1 - Getting to know the Web
Have you surfed Web sites on your own for more than 3 hours?
Try Yahoo or The Mining Company.
Stage 2 - Finding your Web
Do you know of at least four Web sites that you think are great?
Try Surf, Stumble, Search & Lurch or Web-and-Flow Interactive.
Stage 3 - Meeting your Neighbors
Have you felt connected to a broader world by making contact with at least three new people via the Web?
Email people linked to the Web sites you found in stage 2 or explore Liszt.

A Pause to Reflect

Notice that stages 1 - 3 all relate to the teacher's learning. Too often we feel the press of lesson plans and take a reasonably good - though half-baked - activity into the classroom for use with students. The Web is too powerful a medium to treat so poorly. If we don't have a good personal understanding and value of how the Web can serve learning, we're too likely to use it as just one more dry assignment.
This is why, only after the teacher has a personal appreciation for the Web, do we even begin thinking of using it in the classroom. The following four stages suggest a progression of integrating the Web with classroom learning.
Stage 4 - Using the Web with Students
Have you added to your current curriculum by offering students a hotlist of Web sites related to what they're studying?
See China on the Net or explore the Hotlists linked from Blue Web'n.
Stage 5 - Designing Goal-based Web Activities
Have you designed and used a Web-based activity targeting a specific kinds of learning like knowledge acquisition or affective connection?
Try My China or Black History Past to Present.
Stage 6 - Advanced Goal-based Design
Have you designed and used a Web-based activity targeting a specific kind of higher level learning like problem solving, concept development, reflection, meaning construction, etc.
For examples of WebQuests look at Searching for China, Ewe 2, or explore The WebQuest Page.
Stage 7 - Pursuing Transformation
When you engage students in higher level thinking that they are transforming knowledge to create new meaning?
Look for an article on this topic later in 1999.

Another Pause for Reflection

Now notice that stages 4 - 7 all relate to curriculum design. This suggests that integrating the Web with learning can take on a variety of shapes. All of these depend on the teacher's experience developing Web-based activities and identifying specific learning goals for students.
This goal-based approach brings together promising educational practices as well as various ways to scaffold these goals into powerful learning experiences.
Finally, all this front end design and development of activities prepares teachers to use their face-to-face time differently with students. Rather than lead the show, teachers move into a new role...
Stage 8 - Welcome to Your New Job
When you work with students, do you take a facilitator or coaching role so that you can foster a learning-centered experience?
Read from Jamie McKenzie's article Grazing the Net:Raising a Generation of Free Range Students, David Jonassen's Learning Attributes, or Robert Marzano's Dimensions of Learning.
Stage 9 - Taking off the Training Wheels
If students have had lots of practice using higher-level cognitive strategies, do you consciously remove the scaffolding and support so that they must work on their own?
Stage 10 - All that's left is Learning
Can students be presented with a topic and almost automatically generate essential questions, sift resources, critique data, and use information to construct new meaning?

A Final Reflection

With stage 10, students act as self-directed, motivated, inquisitive learners who have acquired the cognitive and affective skills to serve them throughout life. Thus by providing scaffolding and mentoring, you have achieved the goals of a learning-centered approach. This does not happen over night. One observation is that such a goal is best accomplished by starting in the primary grades and using most of the high school years to remove scaffolding, increasingly allowing students to design and assess their own learning.

Written February 1999, last revised May 1999