CU-Boulder Researcher Constructs Interactive World Wide Web Game

October 3, 1997

Editors: Photographers are welcome at the Oct. 7 demonstration from noon to 3 p.m. in engineering room 225. Contact Carol Rowe at 492-3113 for more information.

University of Colorado at Boulder researcher Corrina Perrone, in collaboration with David Clark, a middle school teacher for the Boulder Valley School District, has designed an interactive learning game called WebQuest that helps students learn how to make the most of the World Wide Web.

The game will be demonstrated to several groups of high school students, who will then have a chance to try it out themselves during an Oct. 7 Women in Engineering program on the CU-Boulder campus. The session, from noon to 3 p.m., will be in room 225 of the Engineering Center.

WebQuest is an educational game for sixth graders through undergraduates designed to help students learn Internet research skills while finding answers to questions relevant to current classroom curricula.

The game was named "Best Application of the World Wide Web to Education" at the Fifth International World Wide Web Conference in Paris last year.

Perrone, a professional researcher for the Center for Lifelong Learning and Design, part of CU’s computer science department, developed WebQuest as a constructive way to get students of all ages to find and think about the information they get from the World Wide Web, rather than just read and absorb it.

Perrone said that while turning students loose on the World Wide Web may entertain them, whether they learn by surfing is questionable.

"Even if you tell a student exactly what they should be looking for, they almost always get sidetracked," Perrone said. "WebQuest gives the students a way to focus. They want to come back to the game.”

Perrone, who also is affiliated with CU’s Institute of Cognitive Science, and Clark have tested WebQuest in classes at Platt Middle School and New Vista High School in Boulder, as well as the High School Honors Institute and Science Discovery Program sponsored by CU-Boulder. According to Perrone, the results have been positive.

"The students work in groups on playing and creating games, and in that way they go from being 'players as consumers' to being designers who find information on the World Wide Web and must think about how best to incorporate it into their virtual gameboards," Perrone said. "We see kids who usually tune out and play computer games in class get really interested and become the game-design experts for their groups. It's a really different experience for them."

In WebQuest, students are confronted with a world of knights and dragons. As they explore, they are asked questions that can be answered through research on the Web. In the easier levels, clues are given to help players find the answers. By finding the answer, the player can move on to more difficult levels.

The player will see both the game environment and the World Wide Web browser Netscape Navigator at the same time while they are playing. The game environment was built using the Agentsheets system developed by Alexander Repenning at the Center for Lifelong Learning and Design.

WebQuest is different from other scavenger hunt games because players can write their own games as well as play them. Once students learn to play WebQuest, they can design their own games with questions they devise for their classmates. They also can create their own characters and objects to customize their games.

WebQuest also links players to all World Wide Web sites, not just those chosen by the author.

For more information, contact Corrina Perrone by e-mail at corrina@cs.colorado.edu, or visit her Web site at www.cs.colorado.edu/~corrina.

Give FeedbackSee More Photos View Photo