Reflecting on MysteryQuests Over a Decade

As I’ve finished up the MysteryQuest USA and HistoryQuest5 sessions this spring, I’ve been thinking about how our experiences with the MysteryQuests have changed over the years.

With Learning Space in 2000-2004

Our early experiences with this were with the Washington state based group Learning Space.

  • 8 classes connected at a time
  • The facilitator was at one of the classrooms
  • We all connected via ISDN
  • Everyone used maps and print materials to guess… computers / laptops weren’t available
  • 2.5 hours didn’t seem too long

Early MysteryQuest World sessions

You can watch a clip from the early quests here.

  • 6 classes presented at a time
  • Cities presented weren’t too small – they had to be on standard maps
  • I don’t remember the students struggling with taking notes
  • ISDN and H.261 made for low quality connections; but everyone loved the challenge of it!

This spring

Is it just me? I seemed to notice more issues this spring:

  • Students are really struggling with taking notes – how to identify the keyword to write down. It’s showing up in teacher evaluation comments.
  • Classes on a whole have struggled to make clues that are clear and easy to write down. I think teachers have less prep time due to ever tightening and more constrictive/restrictive curriculum.
  • I saw more evidence of less practiced presentations – which I would guess is also due to less time to devote to the project.
  • Almost every class is connecting from the classroom or the library (vs. the high school distance learning room in the early 2000s).
  • Laptops abound! Everyone seems to have much more access…
  • Much more variety in the variations on this format: 2.5 hours; 2 hours; 1.5 hours; even 45 minutes or point to point agendas!

Perish the thought, but do you think that in learning more “tech skills” students are losing their note taking and basic academic skills?  Some of you have participated in many MysteryQuests over the years. What do YOU think? How has it changed? What do you think of how it has changed?

Still, Students Love It!

Here’s a great quote from this year:

My students LOVED it. They were so busy looking for the states and cities. It was a great way to review what they had learned about geography and history this year. Parents have come to me and told me how excited the kids were about doing Mystery Quest. We LOVED it!

I think this format has consistently engaged students no matter their skill level throughout the decade or so we’ve been doing this. It remains a compelling, highly engaging and interactive videoconference format. Do you agree?

About Janine Lim

Janine Lim, PhD, currently serves as associate dean for online higher education in the School of Distance Education at Andrews University, in Berrien Springs, MI. She and her team support over 200 online courses, provide training for faculty teaching online, and work with the campus infrastructure support of online learning. Her department also provides educational technology and Moodle support for faculty and students. In addition, Janine is responsible for the faculty and courses of the Consortium of Adventist Colleges and Universities. Janine has taught over 15 unique graduate educational technology classes online numerous times over the past 15 years, with some classes attracting participants from all over the world. Her undergraduate teaching includes social media courses for communication and digital media majors. Janine has served on the board of the United States Distance Learning Association since April 2015. Prior to her work at Andrews University, Janine coordinated distance education for 22 K12 school districts in southwest Michigan for 14 years. In that position, as one of the co-founders of TWICE, Michigan’s K12 Videoconferencing Organization, Janine has spearheaded popular international K12 videoconference projects such as Read Around the Planet and MysteryQuest. While still serving on the board of TWICE, she was instrumental in designing and implementing the CAPspace website for collaborative videoconference projects. Janine also served on a team of Michigan educational technology trainers providing a workshop called ATA Technology Academy. Her current online learning research interests include successful teacher behaviors, quality online discussions, and student activity patterns in self-paced courses.
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