What are WebQuests?

A WebQuest is "an inquiry-oriented activity, which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the Internet." (Dodge, 1995). WebQuests are designed to use learners' time well, to focus on using information rather than looking for it, and to support learners' thinking at the levels of analysis, synthesis and evaluation. The model was developed in early 1995 at San Diego State University by Bernie Dodge with Tom March.

What is its purpose?

WebQuests allow students to complete authentic projects and use technology to find and present information and, at the same time, alleviate some of the barriers teachers may find in their attempt to work in the confines of project-based learning. Generally,WebQuests are cooperative activities where students assume different roles relative to an authentic problem. The Internet is usually the main information resource, although other more traditional resources, such as magazines and journals, can be included. The WebQuest itself provides structure to the investigation of the authentic topic, thereby increasing the ability of students to successfully navigate a highly unstructured environment such as the Internet. Students then develop a product which then demonstrates their knowledge of the problem and its potential solutions.

Students enjoy WebQuests because they are given the opportunity to use the Internet to find and apply information. The students may also learn to use presentation software, which allows them to impart their information in a creative way while educating others.

Teachers benefit from WebQuests in a number of ways. For example, rubrics for each project and Web resource addresses are provided, authentic learning occurs, ideas for projects are supplies, and learning is fun for students while they integrate technology. WebQuests can and should be modified by the teacher to fit the needs of the classroom.

How can I do it?

In planning for project-learning, you should always start with the end in mind. A WebQuest can provide you with the project for a unit of study. After reading through a specific WebQuest, you can then begin to select the objectives to be mastered. An alternative way to start could be to select objectives and then find a WebQuest that would help master those to be taught. Subsequently, you can decide which enabling activities need to be taught. Every WebQuest has an Introduction, a Task, Resources, a Process, Evaluation (with a rubric), and a Conclusion.

As you can imagine, having the students complete a WebQuest can be a wonderful experience. Here are some tips to help you start and succeed with your first few.

  1. Preview your WebQuest before you use it.
  2. Change the WebQuest so that it will meet the needs of your class. Sometimes you may have to alter the procedure to suit the one-computer classroom or break up the steps.
  3. It is helpful to perform the initial WebQuest as a group so that the students may become familiar with the process and ask any questions as you proceed.
  4. Remember to let the students explore and have fun. There will be times when the WebQuest does not proceed the way you intended, but learning is still taking place.

How can I adapt it?

  • WebQuests are most likely to be group activities, although one could imagine solo quests that might be applicable in distance education or library settings.
  • They can be designed within a single discipline or they can be interdisciplinary.
  • A single computer can be used to drive whole-class discussion and exploration with the teacher, not the students, controlling the pace.
  • One to 10 computers can be used as learning stations for students to cycle through while others work offline.
  • If the only access to the Internet students have is by a scheduled (and limited) set of lab periods, then a well-orchestrated lesson proceeds that lab visit with offline activities so students are prepared to use lab time well.
  • If all computers don’t have Internet access, then students can access Web archives created on another computer and saved on their hard drives.

Assessment & Evaluation Considerations

Many WebQuests result in products—paper or oral reports, multimedia presentations, dramatic performances, artwork, or musical compositions. The most appropriate evaluation tool for all of these forms often is a rubric that is used by the teacher and perhaps by other students. The most effective rubrics include a variety of criteria and benchmarks for accomplishment in each category. Creating A Rubric for a Given Task is an excellent site for designing your own customized rubric.

Teacher Resources

 

 


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