Ad Hoc Web

The Problem

Classroom discourse is often predicated on a limited set of information sources (e.g. personally held knowledge, pedagogic experiences, books, etc). This restricts the sort of conversations and problem-solving that may be had. Limited authoritative information also tends to privilege teacher knowledge and textbook content.

The Context

Teaching spaces that include ready and convenient access to web-based information sources are becoming prevalent. With mobile and embedded devices that have web access, an opportunity exists to widen pedagogic discourse in significantly different ways. Ideas can be tested against alternative sources, questions answered promptly, and authentic examples sought. This can develop the reasoning level in 4Rs model. Students and teachers can adjust their activity in unpredictable yet productive ways. Without some planning, ad hoc web access may be distracting to individual students or disruptive to class operation.

The Pattern

  1. Technologies for web-based research need to be positioned for ready access, with minimum disruption to other activities. These technologies may be institutionally supplied or may belong to the students attending the class. Students may need to be encouraged to bring along their own devices.
  2. Students need to be skilled in interrogating search engines, critically interpreting results and making sense of apparent information within the current discipline setting. They must also be deposed to research during the normal classroom activities. Conventions need to be established and adopted to productively channel ad hoc use.
  3. Planned interventions (which involve both teacher and student ad hoc use) should be engineered in the early part of semester to build skills and establish conventions. These interventions may vary between staged, through to unplanned, activities.
  4. Reward productive ad hoc practices by students when they occur spontaneously. Steer and refine student behaviour to accepted conventions.

Related Patterns

Analysing a Scenario Response – Foundation (ASRF)
Analysing a Scenario Response – Intermediate (ASRI)




Cuban, L. (2001). High access and low use of technologies in high school classrooms: explaining an apparent paradox. American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), p.813


This pattern was initiated by Karen Woodman (Education) and extended by Michael Ryan (Education)