WebQuest News

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

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

WebQuest News is Moving

In the interest of consolidating our news blog and member forum, this blog will no longer be updated. Please join us at the new WebQuest Ning at http://webquest.ning.com. The RSS feed for the blog there is http://webquest.ning.com/profiles/blog/feed?xn_auth=no.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Updating the WebQuest Taskonomy

Though things have been quiet here on the WebQuest News site, there's lots going on behind the scenes. Some major improvements in QuestGarden are being beta tested right now with more to follow soon. Conceptually, though, the most interesting development is a redesign of the taskonomy. I'm thinking of it more broadly as a taxonomy of authentic constructivist learning tasks and as a list that can be helpful in designing lessons other than WebQuests.

It's not yet fully baked, but you can learn more about it by reading the transcript of last night's Tapped In session. Comments and suggestions are welcome.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Going to NCSS?

The National Council for the Social Studies is holding its annual conference here in San Diego for the first time. It's likely that there will be many WebQuest aficionados among the 4000 expected to attend.

Would you like to get together for an impromptu birds of a feather session? Drop me a line at bdodge@mail.sdsu.edu and put NCSS in the subject line. We'll see what kind of merriment we can design.

Friday, September 07, 2007

QuestGarden Wins Award

At the international conference of MERLOT in New Orleans last month, QuestGarden was the recipient of the Teacher Education Classics Award, an honor that the WebQuest Portal received in 2003. MERLOT is a searchable collection of peer reviewed, higher education, online learning materials created by registered members, and a set of faculty development support services. MERLOT's vision is to be a premiere online community where faculty, staff, and students from around the world share their learning materials and pedagogy.

In the words of one of the judges: "The content of this site is both thoughtful and instructive. It considers both technical and pedagogical information as it guides the instructor through process steps for making good and appropriate WebQuest pages, scaffolding the content, and aligning the WebQuest evaluation with its intended task and standards. Furthermore, being able to author a WebQuest in a systematic way, post it immediately to a server, and communicate and question colleagues who are also working on WebQuests offers a support system for ongoing work and development."

And the food was great, too!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

WebQuesters at NECC

About 45 WebQuest fans gathered for a Birds of a Feather session at NECC in Atlanta, Monday. Cara Hagen and Scott Schwister blogged the conversation which ranged from "bring back the matrix" to ideas for improving the site. Questions covered the gamut. How can you make a good WebQuest for primary students? What do you think about kids creating WebQuests? How will WebQuests incorporate Web 2.0 technologies? Several volunteers stepped forward to help with peer reviews of submitted WebQuests so that the search page will become more useful. A good time was had by all!


Friday, June 22, 2007

Makeover for the WebQuest Sites

The original WebQuest site at SDSU and the portal at WebQuest.org have been falling into disrepair lately. Things were hard to find, links were going bad, and the whole site had a turn of the century look to it. All that is changed as of today.

Please come visit the new unified interface for WebQuest.org. There are new sections on articles and research about WebQuests, a section on WebQuest creation, and the best WebQuest search engine you'll find anywhere. I think you find it a much more complete and useful resource whether you're a novice educator or an experienced teacher educator.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Down with Topical Research Reports!

Jamie McKenzie puts nicely something I've been wanting to write about for some time. In the February issue of From Now On his topic is Putting an End to Topical Research. You know the kind of assignment: write a three-page report on Guatemala.
For two decades now schools have been seduced into buying lots of equipment so that students can become smarter. Sadly, we have no convincing evidence that the investments have paid off.

Students become smarter when teachers show them how to use their minds to wrestle with challenging questions, but scooping and smushing does little to advance their skill.

We would have done better investing in professional development and program development - changing the types of assignments so that students would be required to make answers instead of finding answers.

Fewer computers. More effective teaching. That's what we need.

Most teachers learned about research by going through school and completing topical research assignments. They then become teachers and carry the tradition onward.

And, unfortunately, they're carrying the tradition forward using the WebQuest format, too. As I look over the WebQuests being submitted to the SDSU database and even those being created in QuestGarden, I see far too many of these same, lame research reports.

By definition, a WebQuest requires analysis, synthesis, judgment, creativity, or problem-solving, ideally in the form of a task that is authentic, a smaller version of something adults do. Topical research reports require no deeper thinking than reading and summarizing. Those are important skills, but they aren't the stuff of WebQuests.

The world doesn't need any more "WebQuests" that consist of kids looking up information about a planet or a state and then making a PowerPoint presentation about them. Teacher educators: let's move up Bloom's ladder a few rungs and put an end to this!

Monday, March 19, 2007

WebQuesting in Hong Kong

I'm wrapping up a jam-packed 5 days in Hong Kong today. I was invited by Lee Fong-Lok, director of CAITE, the Centre for the Advancement of Information Technology in Education, to keynote an award ceremony. Award for what? It was the first WebQuest competition that I'm aware of. It was a lot of fun watching the excitement of the teachers who won, especially the presentations made by the girls who described what the experience was like for them as students.

FL and his colleagues at the Chinese University of Hong Kong are working on an interesting project combining WebQuests with gaming. They've developed an environment called Learning Village in which kids construct knowledge in an open-ended social space while completing WebQuest tasks. It's like a combination of Second Life and Knowledge Forum. Some interesting research will be coming out of this over the next few years.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Here's something new that looks very promising. I'll look for a place on
QuestGarden to link to this to encourage the sharing of completed WebQuests.

"Welcome to a worldwide learning network

OER Commons is a teaching and learning network of shared materials, from K through college, from algebra to zoology, open to all to use. Open Educational Resources, or OER, offer new ways to engage with free-to-use learning content.

Want to find new courses or lesson plans? Lab activities or syllabi that are open to adapt for your own use? Browse Categories or Collections to find what interests you. With a free membership, you can add tags, ratings, reviews, comments, and favorites to your own portfolio. You can post to discussion, blog, and wiki areas, and see how others are using OER."

Friday, February 23, 2007

Triton/Patterns Reunion

Yesterday was terrific. Twenty-four of the teachers I worked with in WebQuest's Jurassic Era came back together to learn about QuestGarden. They were part of the Triton and Patterns Projects, two Challenge Grants that stretched from 1995 to 2001, years packed with workshops, showcases, and a whole lot of evolution of the WebQuest model. Marcie Bober, the project evaluator, counted up the impact that projects made in the final report and I believe the numbers were close to 300 teachers and, indirectly, 30,000 kids.

Alas, the grant money ran out, San Diego Unified hired a very top-down non-educator as superintendent, suddenly literacy was the only game in town and there was almost no support or time for technology. The amazing cadre of high-tech educators built up during those years fell apart and had no center of gravity pulling it together to do new things.

There were lots of hugs and catching up. Many had moved on to other schools or upwards(?) into administration. What brought them back together was the idea that we could move their great old WebQuests into QuestGarden, bring them up to date, and give them back to the world in better shape. There were many great lessons created in that project. At the risk of disappointing those whose lessons I leave out, I'll mention Anthem, Return of the Great Game, and The Children's Pool. Some of these, I hope, will soon see the light of day again with fresh links and new ideas.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Summer WebQuest Institutes

There's snow on the ground in many places, so what better time to think about summer? This year for the first time since 2001, I'm returning to the Thacher School in Ojai for a week-long advanced WebQuest workshop. Ask anyone who's been there for a summer session and they'll tell you about the food, the beautiful mountain sunsets, and the sheer pleasure of being productive away from all distractions. The Teach the Teachers Consortium is also offering classes in Photoshop, Dreamweaver, multimedia, video and robotics during the week of July 29 to August 3. I can't wait to go back!

I'm betting that there are other WebQuest workshops, institutes, and seminars out there this summer. Where are they? Post some links in the comments and we'll develop a list for those interested.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

A New Look

As the minutes tick down on 2006, the entire WebQuest staff (Bernie, June and Alex) are hard at work getting the new QuestGarden site in order. To distinguish it from this site, webquest.org, we'll be giving it a new look here and there. Part of that will be a logo that captures the idea of QuestGarden, a place to grow great WebQuests.

We've got a few samples to show and would love to gather your input. Please take a minute to look them over and tell us what you think. Thanks!

UPDATE: Survey is now closed. Thanks to the 66 of you who provided input. We have a winner!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

QuestGarden Shutdown

No... not for good, but for better!

From December 24, 2006 to January 2, 2007, QuestGarden will be unavailable. We need the time to do a major overhaul and the addition of new features.

During this shutdown we'll be moving all published WebQuests created in QuestGarden to a new site and the structure of the URLs will change. Subject to revision, here is how it will go:

If your old WebQuest was at

...its new address will be something like

and you will have the option of changing that to something like

For a given QuestGarden member, the first part of the URL (e.g. http://questgarden.com/44/285/) will always be the same for each WebQuest they create, so it should be easier to remember.

More changes are on the way and will be reported here when ready. Sorry for the inconvenience during our shutdown... but you really should be doing something else this time of year anyway!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

QuestGarden 1.1

There are some great new features to announce this Thanksgiving Eve.

First and bestest: you can now export your WebQuest to a zipped archive and take it with you. This will be great for education students whose professors want them to turn in something heftier than a mere URL. It's also, more broadly, a good capability for any web-based service to have. Would you do significant work on a site that locks you in and doesn't let you pull your stuff out when you want? I wouldn't. Now QuestGarden does the right thing.

Other more subtle improvements: 2) signing up for a new account is smoother. If you leave out a required field you don't have to start all over. 3) If you forget your password there's a link that will send it to you. 4) If you accidentally add the wrong co-author you can now delete them. 5) If there are graphics or documents you uploaded as part of your WebQuest that you decided not to use, you can now delete them.

Many more new features coming up during Christmas break.