WebQuest News

News and views about the WebQuest model, a constructivist lesson format used widely around the world.

Friday, March 25, 2005

WebQuest vs. Kleenex

It's amazing to me how much the word WebQuest has entered the lexicon in just 10 years. Google is one gauge of how widely used a word is, so I decided to check out just where it stands compared to other education terms. Here's what I found:
# PagesTerm
1,340,000lesson plan
469,000standardized test
427,000cooperative learning
402,000multiple intelligences or multiple intelligence
398,000problem-based learning
129,000high-stakes testing
53,300Bloom's Taxonomy

It would be fallacious, of course, to claim that WebQuests are more than an order of magnitude more famous than Bloom's Taxonomy. Since WebQuests are a web-based format, they're going to be over-represented on web pages compared to paper pages (or in the meat-based minds of educators). Pretty impressive number, though. I decided to see where WebQuests lie within a short list of other items of popular culture and got this:

# PagesTerm
773,000David Letterman
304,000Clark Kent

Of course, this is small potatoes when you consider that there are close to 44,000,000 pages with the word "iPod" on them, and Britney Spears has over 14 million, but still... not bad for a word I pulled out of the air in 1995.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Making WebQuests more Exciting

Thanks to Technorati, I've got a pretty far-ranging radar that tells me when anyone writes something new with the word "WebQuest" in it. Here's a quote that caught my eye today:

Blog, Blog, Fo-fog, Banana-ana-bo-blog, fe-fi-mo-mog....BLLLOOOOGGG: Webquest for the holy grade.: "Here I am sitting at work, getting paid to blog about webquests. Exciting, isn't it? Anyway, what is there to say about webquests? Personally, I am not a huge fan of webquests. To most webquests are just electronic busy work. While some are very beneficial, most that I have experienced are lacking something. I don't know what it is for sure, but I think that they are all kind of boring. With a name like WEBQUEST, I expect some kind of adventure. What do I get? Overly structured clicking and reading. Maybe my distaste for webquests come some being raised in the generation of lights, sounds, and video game violence, but when I look at webquests I am looking for an actual quest. I do still understand the practical nature of the webquests, but consider them to be a less-than-desirable alternative to hands on learning. To appeal to the future masses of students I believe webquests need to drastically change. To excite is to entertain, to entertain is to captivate, to captivate is to inspire, to inspire is to teach."

Spoken like a true millennial learner, I suppose. It's true that most WebQuests are boring, but I think that's because they aren't really well designed, not because they don't have flashy graphics and interactivity. I'd like to think that getting engaged in a problem that requires synthesis and problem-solving is motivating in a deep and useful way that goes beyond Prensky's arcade-game type learning. And given that right from the start the goal was to develop a lesson format that any teacher could author, there's no way that WebQuests can look like Halo 2.

But what can be done to make WebQuest cooler? Any ideas out there? Please add your thoughts to the comments.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Travel Plan WebQuests Make the News

The Citizen, Auburn NY - News: "When Beth Rapple's third-grade class began studying world history, they had no idea they would be visiting the places they studied.

But after using the Internet to look up flight information on cheap seats.com and figuring out how much it would cost to stay in a hotel, the Cato-Meridian elementary students took a virtual field trip from their classroom, which was set up like the inside of an airplane, to Paris, France."