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?

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