WHAT IS A CYBERHUNT?
INTRODUCTION: WHAT IS A CYBERHUNT?
The term Cyberhunt would probably not be found in a dictionary of the 1990’s or in a contemporary one. This could possibly be attributed to the fast development of the Information Society and ICT area. Cyberspace is a term that we can attribute to ICT and the Internet. The term “hunt” refers to finding or searching for something. Therefore a cyberhunt refers to an online activity where learners are using the Internet as a tool to find answers to questions (Rechtfertig, 2002) based upon a certain theme or topic that has been composed by someone else. Learners can also design cyberhunts on a specific topic, which is the ultimate aim.
TEACHERS AS DESIGNERS
Teachers may use cyberhunts as an introduction to a theme in a pre-activity or as a review for an upcoming test or other form of authentic assessment (Slayden, 2000).
LEARNERS AS DESIGNERS
However, the ultimate aim is that learners become designers of cyberhunts on topics related to the curriculum.
WHY THEN CYBERHUNTS?
The identification of a topic, brainstorming of keywords related to the topic to be used to search for on the Internet, the exploration and reading of the information on web sites, the compilation of questions about the topic related to info on the website and the design of the cyberhunt on the computer provide the learners with various learning and design skills.
HORIZONTAL AND VERTICAL CYBERHUNTS
During my involvement with cyberhunts, I started to notice that two types of cyberhunts can be distinguished in what I have labeled as HORIZONTAL and VERTICAL cyberhunts. This refers to the type of cyberhunt or the kind of questioning and exploration of the website visited. A cyberhunt can be defined as horizontal if it complies with the following: The whole cyberhunt (all the questions) is based upon one web page that has been accessed and the learner will be able to find all the answers on that specific web page. The reading thus takes place on one level. The learner is therefore not required to explore the web site deeper by clicking on other hyperlinks within the website. Questions within a cyberhunt can also be horizontal if a learner does not have to explore the visited or accessed website deeper, thus, he/she stays on the same level that has been accessed. Figure 1 tries to visually portray the difference between horizontal and vertical cyberhunts.
Horizontal cyberhunts could be the starting point for learners as first time users of the web and their introduction to cyberhunts, as well as to novice teachers starting with ICT integration. These simple and low level cyberhunts assist teachers and learners to feel secure in the initial stages and build ICT confidence in both parties. During this stage learners can start to answer the questions on paper. However, the teacher may decide to move from learners that write answers on paper to learners that open the teacher created cyberhunt file from the network or web and then type their answers either in a blank word processor page or under the composed questions in the teacher created cyberhunt in the answer space provided.
FIGURE 1: HORIZONTAL & VERTICAL READING & BROWSING ON THE WEB DURING CYBERHUNTS
A cyberhunt becomes vertical the moment a learner has to explore a website deeper on his/her own to find the answer to the composed question. In practice it entails that a learner is provided with a question and a hyperlink that opens a web page when the hyperlink is selected. However, the learner will not be able to find the answer to the question on that accessed page, but will have to explore the website further by ascertaining whether some of the hyperlinks that can be seen on the accessed web page provide possible clues in their names that indicate that it is a link that can be followed. Alternatively, a learner will have to embark on a step-by-step exploration process of the website to find the answers or by collaborating with a few peers to assist him/her to explore the website to find the appropriate answer. Figure 1 tries to visually portray the difference between horizontal and vertical cyberhunts.
These higher level cyberhunts bring Internet exploration or surfing to a higher level and need some more ICT skills and experience related to Internet browsing (surfing). Normally learners will type the answers on their computer and save it and make a print-out.
Rechtfertig, M.A. (2002). Internet CyberHunts. Dixie School District Staff Development Day, January 16, 2002, 1:45 pm - 3:30pm. Presenter: Mary Ann Rechtfertig. Available:
http://dixiesd.marin.k12.ca.us/dixieschool/Classrooms/Rechfertig/cyberhunts/ [Accessed: 18 June 2007]
Slayden, B. (2000). Scavenger Hunt for Knowledge. Available:
http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/english_education_k12/33709 [Accessed: 18 June 2007].