webquest

Description:


Webquests are a lesson plan format that utilizes the internet for inquiry-based learning experiences. Learning to think more critically while learning to use the internet effectively is the goal of webquests. Teachers will design a specific task and learning outcome for students who then must use resources found on the internet to complete the task. Those interested in the idea would do well to access Webquest.org, a website which grew out of the work of San Diego State University professor Bernie Dodge, the person most credited for developing and promoting the concept. Webquest.org also has an affiliate, Questgarden, which has ready-to-use WebQuests as well as advice for teachers interested in authoring their own.





Related Theory:

Webquests align with the constructivist learning theory. Teachers provide parameters, "guided inquiry" in the words of WebQuest.org, yet allow students to explore a topic on their own as they complete a task.





Benefits:

  • Because teachers can create webquests themselves, they are free. Teachers unable to create their own for whatever reason may turn to well-established, inexpensive services for proven lesson ideas. Questgarden charges $20 for a 2-year subscription and comes with a 30-day trial period.
  • When designed correctly, Webquests can foster higher order thinking skills (analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and creativity)
  • Students will learn to distinguish between reliable and unreliable internet resources.
  • Teachers are able to to narrow the focus, ensuring students still learn what they need to learn but they are also able to play a more active role in the learning process.
  • Teachers are able to guide students to relevant resources, providing both scaffolding and controlling to some extent the type of content they are viewing.
  • Teachers are able share their Webquests and use other teachers utilizing a search feature on Webquest.org. The search feature allows users to search by Title or Description, Author or URL.
    • When search results are returned grade levels, content area, and author information is provided for each Webquest.
      • If you like a particular author you can then use the search by Author option to find other Webquests they have created.
  • When designed well Wequests can encourage student collaboration and teamwork - sharing knowledge to solve problems together.
  • Webquests are compatible with both Macs and PCs.





Challenges:

  • Getting students to think of the task as more than just a traditional lesson in disguise
  • Students may struggle and find themselves lost amidst the seemingly endless information available on the Web
  • Teachers may need to be more tech savvy in order to create Webquests
  • Teachers may feel Webquests will teach students all they need to know about a specific topic and not recap information after the Webquest lesson





Special Guidance:

Students may need instruction on how to identify internet resources that are reliable and effective for completing their Webquest task.


What subjects and content to avoid creating a Webquest:
  • Procedures - this indicates there is only one way to do something (so things like Math and Science Formulas are not good candidates)
    • How those formulas can be applied in real life however might be a good candidate for webquests
  • Factual Recall
    • A better use of a Webquest in this case like with procedures might be a webquest helping students explore how these facts could be applied in their everyday lives
  • Topics well covered by textbooks - in this case the Wequest is simply repetition of something they have already covered
    • Using a Webquest to bring in supplementary, flavorful or more current information about these topics might be a better application of this tool
Webquests work best when for multifaceted topics where there is more than one right answer so students are able to be creative and use higher order thinking skills like analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.





Current Research:

There is no actual, edited database containing research about Webquests. However, graduate students and scholars have done thesis and dissertation studies on Webquests. The Webquest homepage provides abstracts of various research articles related to web-based instruction.




Lesson Ideas:

Creating a WebQuest is really quite simple as far as technology goes. If you can put hyperlinks in a document, you're on your way. WebQuest.org, however, offers some recommendations on how to make "a real WebQuest."

A real WebQuest....
  • is a task that is intriguing to young people because it resembles in some way what older or more knowledgeable people around them may do at work or in their civic lives; at the same time it's considerate of what the student is capable of.
  • calls on students to go beyond comprehension and summary; it calls on them to take ideas apart and put them back together, while exercising judgment, problem-solving and creativity.
  • employs authentic materials from the Web so as not be to confused with a traditional lesson; while it allows for use of other media Web use should be at its core.
  • is not a recipe, not a paint by number--not a list of directions to mindlessly follow and then report back on.
  • is not a collection of discrete tasks; rather its components cohere in such a way that higher-level thinking is required.

Sample Webquests created within Questgarden:
- //Dinosaurs Before Dark// by Beth Szabo of Travis Elementary School in California
- //"Gimme Shelter!" Homeless in America// by Kathy Burke of Seattle Pacific University

Sample Webquests by Subject

Other Webquest services that help teachers make their own, offer advice, offer examples
- Filamentality -- free, caters to novice Webquest authors
- Zunal WebQuest Maker -- free, has more than 60K users
- PHPWebQuest -- free, application for authoring webquests has to be installed on your own server; some users complain about security vulnerabilities
- TeacherWeb -- website template tool wherein webquest templates are a feature, $39 / year subscription, free 30-day trial, deals offered for multi-license agreements with schools, districts -- recommended for elementary students



Resources:


Thank you to Webquest.org for providing useful information which aided in the creation of this Wiki page.
  • Don't forget to check out the "Minds we Like" links on the right side of the home screen for other ideas on collaborative learning, technology utilization and other helpful teaching resources.

Check out Webquest 101 videos on You Tube for tips and tricks, it's a four part series http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4rel5qOPvU

Read an interview with Bernie Dodge, WebQuest pioneer.
Useful Resources for Developing a Webquest
Watched "Webquest Pitfalls: with Bernie Dodge, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Yfo8B3PdmI



Tips from Bernie Dodge, WebQuest founder: