Using Web 2.0 for 21st Century Skills: Teaching through Inquiry

Information surrounds us, now how do we as teachers prepare ourselves and our students to experience and contribute to its bounty.

Using Inquiry in the Classroom: Developing Creative Thinkers and Information Literate Students

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Using Inquiry in the Classroom: Developing Creative Thinkers and Information Literate Students provides an overview of inquiry learning and the importance of developing creative thinkers and information literate students in twenty-first-century education. The text explores how learning can be directly applied in a classroom setting using real world application through technology oriented activities. Coffman showcases WebQuests, Web inquiry, telecollaborative, and problem-based activities with examples and skill-building exercises for readers to implement in their lessons for use in their classrooms. Using this guide, readers will work through strategies for effectively integrating technology into a teaching and learning environment so students gain maximum knowledge and understanding of core concepts. Plus, the content is personalized so that the reader can create activities and lessons for their specific curriculum needs.

2009 Virginia Educational Technology Conference Presentation

Based on the Book, Engaging Students Through Inquiry-Oriented Learning and Technology, by Teresa Coffman


Who are our learners?

The idea of Inquiry is teaching our students...To Think. To Create. To Analyze. To Synthesize. To Remix. To Share with others.

Graphic of Inquiry Learning


A Teacher that Incorporates Inquiry and Web 2.0

Meet Mary. Meet You, a teacher who incorporates inquiry into teaching and student learning.

Teaching Strategies from a Students Prospective

  • Activity – Opportunity to provide me with strategies and ways to actively think about the topics or content
  • Assessment – A continuous learning event that provides information about what I understand of the topics or content
  • Brainstorming – Working with a group, usually the whole class, to spontaneously contribute ideas
  • Community - A grouping that incorporates members from inside and outside of the classroom
  • Demonstration – Share understandings with a larger group publicly
  • Discussion/Debate – Opportunity for me and my fellow group members to research specific ideas and then analyze, clarify, or reach conclusions about these ideas, issues, questions, or problems and then share with a wider audience
  • Experiential – Learning by doing, participating with content, discovering content
  • Field Trip - Exploration of a location or topic, outside of the school grounds
  • Game - Typically a competition or contest that involves a demonstration of an understanding of content or a specific skill.
  • Hands-on – An opportunity for me and my classmates to apply our new understandings to a practical application of content and/or a particular skill
  • Interactive Writing – Allows me to communicate about course topics in using an interactive and visual medium
  • Interview – I can interview others about a particular topic or area of study, compile the interview, edit, and share with others
  • Inquiry – questioning activities designed to help me build knowledge and understanding of concepts and how these concepts relate to the world around me. It is a process of solving open ended problems/questions
  • Journal/Logs - Allows me to share my experiences, ideas, and/or reflections with a public audience
  • Project-Based – Allows me to work on a specific task or problem that my group members and I must solve or decipher. We then get to share our new findings with others.
  • Model & Simulation – An opportunity for me to explore specific models and participate in course topics and content
  • Multimedia - Learning and presenting in multimedia (more than one media) such as images, text, sound, animation to engage in the process of learning and thinking
  • Problem Solving – Allows me to work through a question finding a solution, using inquiry
  • Peer Response - I can provide written or verbal feedback to a peer sharing ideas, asking questions, and providing resources for further study
  • Presentation – Allows me to demonstrate or even teach a concept based about my new understandings
  • Play – An active and engaging opportunity for me and my classmates to learn, think, explore, and discover new and interesting ideas and concepts
  • Research – Opportunities for me and my classmates to investigate and collect information about a particular topic or content area
  • Thematic Approach - Content and ideas are organized around unifying themes and big idea questions

Web 2.0 Tools


Example Questions to an author


Example Islamic Revolution, The seed



Example RadioWillowWeb, The Education Podcast Network


Example 3rd graders blog

Web page creator




Example Edgar Allen Poe


Types of Activities

Web Inquiry


Social Bookmarking

Telecollaborative Activity







Online Debate

Questions Must Be

"What factors caused the assassination attempt of Lincoln?"
  • Answerable.
  • Answers must be more than simple facts. Must require research, interpretation, and analysis.
  • Must involve exploration of varying opinions, ideas, and concepts as well as resources
  • No value judgments
  • Not personal. Focus is external research beyond what they like or know

Important Characteristics

  • Learning through exploration
  • Teaching strategies to meet curricular goals
  • Collaboration and Community
  • Innovative and Creative
  • Learner Centered

Integrating Technology

The Technology Integration Mix incorporates five interdependent characteristics of meaningful learning environments: active, constructive, goal directed (i.e., reflective), authentic, and collaborative

Resources for Technology Tools and Inquiry

Resources to get you thinking about information

Staying Connected

Asking Good Questions

Primary Sources