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Creating a WebQuest | It's Easier Than You Think

 

Always wanted to make a WebQuest but not sure where to start? EducationWorld has all the answers and can make the process easy for you.

WebQuests are probably the most talked-about and widely used Web-based activities in today's classrooms. What are WebQuests? What accounts for their popularity? And how can you use -- and create -- WebQuests in your own classroom? Education World explores those questions and more.

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember.
I do and I understand."
                                          -- Confucius

"A WebQuest," according to Bernie Dodge, the originator of the WebQuest concept, "is an inquiry-oriented activity in which most or all of the information used by learners is drawn from the Web. WebQuests are designed to use learners' time well, to focus on using information rather than on looking for it, and to support learners' thinking at the levels of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation."

Education World asked two educators who have created their own WebQuests to share with us the benefits they bring to their classroom.


WHY WEBQUESTS?

WebQuests, which use the constructivist approach to learning, are a super learning tool, said Kenton Letkeman, creator of a number of excellent WebQuests.

"With many research projects," Letkeman told Education World, "students feel that they are sucking up information and regurgitating it onto paper for no other reason than to get a good grade. WebQuests give students a task that allows them to use their imagination and problem-solving skills. The answers are not predefined and therefore must be discovered or created. Students must use their own creative-thinking and problem-solving skills to find solutions to problems.

"WebQuests are also a wonderful way of capturing students' imagination and allowing them to explore in a guided, meaningful manner," added Letkeman, a resource-based learning consultant for the Tisdale School Division in Saskatchewan, Canada. "Communication, group work, problem solving, and critical and creative thinking skills are becoming far more important in today's world than having students memorize predetermined content."

"WebQuests allow students to explore issues and find their own answers," he added. "Particularly with controversial issues -- such as pollution, gambling, and nuclear waste disposal -- students must do more than memorize information. They must process the information in meaningful ways and reach moral and ethical decisions guided by facts."

The adaptive dimension, the ability to make adjustments in educational programs to accommodate students' diverse learning needs, is also an important characteristic of WebQuests, according to Letkeman. "With WebQuests, special needs students can be given predetermined roles that are very important and make them feel part of the group," he said. "Advanced students can explore further and do more than is required. The interest this type of project generates makes that a reality, rather than a fantasy!"


THE WELL-PLANNED WEBQUEST

Mim Faro, a gifted and talented enrichment teacher at Mt. Penn Elementary Center in Pennsylvania, recently created her first WebQuest. She agrees that WebQuests are an exciting and valuable teaching tool. "Of course, some WebQuests are better than others," she noted.

"A well-planned WebQuest," Faro told Education World, "has guidance for students, a creative end project with room for flexibility, and links that help answer questions and positively add to the project. A strong WebQuest is designed for students to work independently, allowing the teacher to be a facilitator in students' learning rather than the sole dispenser of knowledge."

Faro offered this advice for teachers who are considering using WebQuests in the classroom. "Always thoroughly check any WebQuest you have not created to make sure the information is relevant and the links work."

Of course, the best WebQuests ensure relevance because they are specifically tailored to your curriculum and your students.

"If you are going to create a WebQuest," Faro said, "search through some existing WebQuests first. Make note of what you like and what you don't like. And above all, dare to be creative!"

Looking for WebQuests to check out? You might start with the Education World Lesson Planning article Women of the Century: An Education World WebQuest.


THE WEBQUEST FORMULA

WebQuests, say the teachers who use them, promote high-level thinking, develop problem-solving skills, and provide an avenue for seamlessly integrating technology into the curriculum. And creating one is easier than you might think! Many sites are available to walk you through the process.

One of the most thorough is Bernie Dodge's WebQuest Page. According to Dodge, the six building blocks of a WebQuest are:

  • The Introduction orients students and captures their interest.
  • The Task describes the activity's end product.
  • The Process explains strategies students should use to complete the task.
  • The Resources are the Web sites students will use to complete the task.
  • The Evaluation measures the results of the activity.
  • The Conclusion sums up the activity and encourages students to reflect on its process and results.


HELP! WHERE DO I BEGIN?

Before designing a WebQuest, you'll want to have an outline handy to guide you through the process. A number of excellent WebQuest outlines, including Tom March's Prewriting Your WebQuest, will help. Templates such as Dodge's WebQuest Templates are also available online.


THE DESIGN PROCESS

Once you have your outline or template in hand, here are some main points to include:

  • The Topic. You may have already decided on a topic related to current events or to an area of the curriculum that's inadequately covered in available texts. If you're still searching for a topic, however, Tom March, who developed the first WebQuests with Bernie Dodge, suggests starting "where you're at." "If you have an area that's your specialty, something that thrills you to teach, that you know inside and out, up and down, begin there," March says. You can also explore March's Idea Machine, which provides 50 prompts designed to help begin the brainstorming process.
  • The Task. "The task," says Dodge, "is the single most important part of a WebQuest." His WebQuest Taskonomy: A Taxonomy of Tasks provides eleven different types of tasks, including journalistic, mystery, persuasion, and judgement tasks. If you can't find it here, you can't find it anywhere!
  • The Process. In this section, you'll include the roles students will assume and the steps they'll follow to complete the activity. March's Designing for Success provides not only a Designer's Checklist, but also some clickable "friendly advice" for the creatively challenged!
  • The Resources. Identify the online resources available on your topic by brainstorming a list of related words and using the list to search for relevant sites. As you search, create a hotlist of current, accurate, and age-appropriate sites that will engage your students' interest.
  • The Evaluation. As Kenton Letkeman points out, "Traditional evaluation techniques are not the best means for evaluating the results of WebQuests, since all students may not learn the same content. Individual evaluation rubrics should be developed that follow curriculum objectives and are easy for students to understand." Dodge's Rubric for Evaluating WebQuests also provides a number of criteria for evaluating students' WebQuest success.


SHARE IT!

Finally, your WebQuest is finished -- and you're pretty proud of it! Why not click Submit a WebQuest at WebQuest.org and share it with other technology-savvy educators?

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Article by Linda Starr
Education World®
Copyright © 2000 Education World

 

Updated 03/26/2013

 

 

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