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Trouble.gifWebQuests Across the Curriculum

Sherry Joiner

What is a WebQuest?

A WebQuest is an inquiry-based approach to learning that engages students in a wide variety of activities using internet-based resources (Dodge, 2001; Halat, 2008; March, 2004). This student-centered learning experience provides students with a situation or scenario in which they must utilize collaboration and problem solving skills to analyze, synthesize and evaluate information (Dodge, 2001; Halat, 2008). It pushes them to go beyond basic fact finding mission and use their critical thinking and creativity to develop solutions to problems (Yoder, 2010). The fous is on using information rather than spending enormous amount of time looking for information.

Bernie Dodge is a professor of educational technology at San Diego State University and along with Tom March, they are the founding fathers of the WebQuest Model. This instructional model was born in 1995 when Bernie was looking for a way for his pre-service teachers to learn about a program called Archeotype. Listen to Bernie Dodge explaining what a WebQuest is, the conceptual framework behind the idea, what makes a WebQuest and find out where you can get some good examples by watching the link below.

Structure of a WebQuest

Basic elements of a WebQuest: (Halat, 2008; Yoder, 2010)
· Introduction: Informs the student of what they will be doing and learning during the WebQuest activity. This is where a creative description of the task or scenario will be given to students. This will be the first thing they see when beginning their learning experience, so you want to hook them in with an interesting story/description as well as a visually appealing introduction page.
· Task: This is the key component to the WebQuest activity and it should be well organized with thought-out tasks and subtasks, all based around a central theme or topic to be learned. The tasks and subtasks should be scaffold with subtasks supporting the main tasks. The subtasks will build the basic skills that students will need to complete the main tasks. Overall, all tasks and subtasks should be authentic, doable but challenging and interesting for the current students.
· Process: The detailed steps that students will take to complete each subtask and task.
· Resources: This will include the internet addresses needed to gather various pieces of information to complete the tasks at hand. Make sure that selected sites are well designed, professional and reliable. Other sources that can be used for collecting information and data are experts available via email, online conferencing in real time or searchable databases.
· Evaluation: A teacher created rubric based on his or her expectations for the students learning by the end of the experience. This rubric is provided to students so that they may evaluate their own performance as well as compare what they have learned or accomplished. This rubric can also be used to evaluate students work.
· Conclusion: This section brings closure to the WebQuest, sums up the project and reviews what the students have learned.

Five Bits of Advice for Creating High Quality WebQuests (FOCUS): (Dodge, 2001; March, 2004)
Find great sites:
Find sites to incorporate that are readable, interesting to your students and meet the students at their cognitive ability level. Make sure sites are up-to-date and contain accurate information that provides a neutral perspective. If you use a site that focuses heavily on one perspective, balance it out with sites from other perspectives as well.
This site is an excellent resource for helping you master the search engine and find the best sites for your students. Quickly become a better searcher by following these easy steps.

This site provides specialized search engines and directories to find specific information that is buried in the deep end of the web! These search engines will help you find a wider variety of information on a specific topic and from different perspectives.

Orchestrate your learners and resources:
Set up your WebQuest experience so that every computer is being used efficientlyand everyone has something meaningful to do at
every moment. This requires a highly structured learning environment as well as well though-out tasks and subtasks.
Organize your resources:

· Use single computers for whole class discussions and exploration
· Use one to ten computers as learning stations
· Front load class time for preplanning and post planning when computer access is limited to designated computer lab time.
· Load web archives to computers that do not have Internet access so that students can utilize those resources at the same time.
Organize people:

· Students must have a solid foundation for how to work cooperatively. These are skills that must be taught to students.

Challenge Your Learners to Think
Ask your students to do something more than just retelling or summarizing the information that they have collected. Engage students
in problem solving learning where they are applying the information that they know and have learned to create a solution to a problem.
Find an extensive list of suggestive activities at all ability levels at this site. A taxonomy of tasks provides a definition of the various levels of tasks as well as tips for implementation and samples for review. Push your students beyond the basic retelling and compilation tasks and challenge them to take on the Mystery, Journalistic or Design tasks.

Use the Medium
Utilize all opportunities that the internet and computers have to offer for the
WebQuest learning experience. Line up experts in the field to support your students and be willing to take questions via email for a week or two during your study. Connect with parents that have some expert knowledge as well as students in other classes and other schools across time and space.

In addition, take advantage of the video, audio and image capabilities that the Internet has to offer without losing the instructional purpose of the learning experience. This site allows you to search for sounds using key words from your study.

A webcam view that is associated with your topic can add interest and capture your students as they work through your WebQuest. This site provides webcam views from all over the world. Search your topic and see what views are available.

Scaffold High Expectations:
Scaffolding is a temporary structure that supports the learner as they build the necessary skills to complete the task at hand. This scaffold could be in the form of guidance in how to learn from a give resources and how to retain that information. Other forms of scaffolding support the student in transforming the information that they have found into a new form and guiding them with steps for how to construct a new product with the new form of information they have created.
The historical story design for WebQuests. Bernie Dodge describes various designs that can be utilized when constructing a WebQuest.
Pitfalls of WebQuests with Bernie Dodge. In this clip he discusses what topics should be included in a WebQuest and which are not best suited with this instructional strategy.

Relevance for Teaching and Learning

: (Lipscomb, 2003; Ikpeze & Boyd, 2007)
High student engagement
· Scaffold instruction for higher order thinking; accomidates for various ability levels
· Can be used for content or promble-solving learning
· Supports thinking at the analysis and synthesis level
· Forces students to transform their learning and apply it to a new situation
· Can be short term (2-3 class periods) or can be long term (4-6 weeks)

: (Lipscomb, 2003)
Provides students with a motivational task; high interest.
· Assits students in managing large amounts of information from multiple sources
· Authentic tasks
· Challenging and meaningful
· Provides a basic framework for organization of material, but allows for varying approaches to solving the problem or scenerio
· Incorporated peer collaboration
· Iquiry, communication, expression and construction of knowledge (Ikpeze & Boyd, 2007)

WebQuests in Practice
Mrs. O’Neal, Mr. Colohan, Mrs. Smith and Mr. Hirano are teachers at a Middle School in a Mid-Atlantic state. Their middle school includes 120 faculty and staff members and 1100 students. Mrs. O’Neal is a seventh grade Health and P.E. teacher and Mrs. Smith teaches seventh grade English teacher. Both teach in the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program and share the same 106 seventh grade students. Mr. Colohan and Mr. Hirano are both computer resource teachers in the school and work with all teachers to integrate technology into instruction.

Mrs. O’Neal and Mr. Colohan collaborated to create a learning experience for their students that included learning the basic components of a WebQuest as well as software programs that will enable them to ultimately construct their own WebQuest. Once students have a foundational knowledge of the purpose and elements of a WebQuest, they are assigned to research a particular eating disorder and use that information to construct their own WebQuest.

Mrs. Smith and Mr. Hirano build upon this foundation by teaching students advanced elements of WebQuest creation and challenge the students to create their own quest using the Mystery genre. Listen as all teachers describe the structure and purpose of the assignments as well as what some of the affordances and constraints are of using WebQuests as an instructional tool.

Below are handouts that Mr. Hirano developed to guide students in learning the basic components of Dreamweaver and Fireworks.

Checkout this example of a Health and P.E. WebQuest that was created by Mrs. O’Neal and Mr. Colohan’s students.

computer.jpgBelow are additional locations where sample WebQuests can be found.

High School:


K http://warrensburg.k12.mo.us/webquest/missspider/index.htm
3 http://its.guilford.k12.nc.us/webquests/Fables/Fables.htm
8 http://projects.edtech.sandi.net/lewis/litf/


Middle/High School:
6-12 http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/democracy/debtquest.html
6-12 http://edtech.suhsd.k12.ca.us/curriculum/web/listwhosaysi.html


Middle School:
6 http://projects.edtech.sandi.net/ofarrell/lavaland/
High School:
9-12 http://projects.edtech.sandi.net/kearny/forensic/

Art and Music

Middle/High School:
6-12 http://projects.edtech.sandi.net/ofarrell/rkinne/

Health and P.E.

Middle/High School:
9-12 http://projects.edtech.sandi.net/kearny/tobafree/

Strengths and Weaknesses of WebQuests
  • High interest and captivates students attention
  • Students become active learners throughout the process
  • Supports peer interactions (collaboration)
  • Increases students motivation to learn and work hard
  • Includes most current information and data through internet collection
  • Alternative assessment tool to measure student’s learning
  • Allows teacher to assess content knowledge as well as technological knowledge and ability
  • Enhances teacher’s creative thinking in constructing interesting and funny stories or scenarios that can be combined with content to introduce the WebQuest to students.
  • Enhances teacher’s higher-order thinking skills as they find topic-related Web sites and evaluate them for professionalism as well as content.
  • Lack of interest of the student if the scenario is not interesting or challenging or if it is too challenging
  • The task has prescribed Web sites and resources that are to be used for this task and cannot venture to other sites that they find more appealing.
  • Lack of access to the internet
  • Lack of access to the computer programs and/or computers
  • Lack of reliable internet connection
  • Lack of time to develop a high quality WebQuest
  • Finding reliable links for resources

More WebQuest Resources

computer.jpghttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMHl2riF4oc&feature=related (8.52)
Palm Breeze Café is a locally aired (Florida) technology program with Lee Kolber. In this episode she and her co-host explore the WebQuest.org site. With great detail and pictures the women examine the content of the site, sample WebQuests, suggestive sites, and walk the viewer through how to use the website with screenshots and verbal directions. This site provides a database of well-designed sample WebQuests and is a great place for teachers to find a sample by grade level or subject area.
computer.jpgwww.WebQuest.org computer.jpg http://WebQuest.org/search


computer.jpg http://eduscapes.com/tap/topic4.htm#1
Teacher Tap: This site provides an EXTENSIVE list collections of WebQuests from all over the United States, for all grade levels and for all subject areas. One could get lost for hours checking out all of these fabulous projects!!


Bernie Dodge's websit where he has assembled steps to creaing a WebQuest. This site includes a WebQuest template as well as sample WebQuests.


Dodge, B. (2001). FOCUS: Five rules for writing a great webquest. Learning and Leading with Technology, 28(8), p 6-9, 58. Retrieved April 27, 2010, www.learnk12.ct.us/~kurgitis/Karenweb/webquestworkshop/FOCUS.doc

Gaskill, M., McNulty, A., & Brooks, D. W. (2006). Learning from webquests. Journal of
Science Education and Technology, 15(2), 133-136. DOI: 10.1007/s10956-006-9005-7

Halat, E. (2008). A good teaching technique: WebQuests. The Clearing House, 81(3), p 109-111. DOI: 10.3200/TCHS.81.3.109-112

Hassanien, A. (2006). An evaluation of the webquest as a computer-based learning tool.
Research in Post-Compulsory Education, 11(2), p 235-250. DOI: 10.1080/13596740600769230

Ikpeze, C. H. & Boyd, F. B. (2007). Web-based inquiry learning: Facilitating thoughtful literacy with WebQuests. The Reading Teacher, 60(7), p 644-654. DOI: 10.1598/RT.60.7.5

Lipscomb, G. (2003). I guess it was pretty fun: Using webquests in the middle school classroom. The Clearing House, 76(3), p 152-155.
DOI: 10.1080/00098650309601993

March, T. (2004). The learning power of webquests. Educational Leadership, 61(4), p 42-47.

Yoder, M. B. (1999). The student web quest: A productive and thought provoking use of the internet. Learning and Leading with Technology, 26(7), p 6-10.