Since early in 1995, teachers everywhere have learned how to use the
web well by adopting the WebQuest (online) format to create inquiry-oriented lessons. But
what exactly is a WebQuest? What does it feel like to do one? How
do you know a good one when you see it? In the space of 90 minutes, you're
going to grapple with these questions and more.
To develop great WebQuests, you need to develop a thorough
understanding of the different possibilities open to you as you create
web-based lessons. One way for you to get there is to critically analyze a
number of webquest examples and discuss them from multiple perspectives.
That's your task in this exercise.
By the end of this lesson, you and your group will answer these
- Which two of example WebQuests listed below are the best
- Which two are the worst? Why?
- What do best and worst mean to you?
- First, each participant will have a hard copy of the worksheet.
To answer the questions given above, you'll break into groups of four.
Within the group, each of you will take on one of the following
Efficiency Expert: You value time a great deal. You believe
that too much time is wasted in today's classrooms on unfocused
activity and learners not knowing what they should be doing at
a given moment. To you, a good WebQuest is one that delivers the
most learning bang for the buck. If it's a short, unambitious activity
that teaches a small thing well, then you like it. If it's a longterm
activity, it had better deliver a deep understanding of the topic
it covers, in your view.
Affiliator: To you, the best learning activities are those
in which students learn to work together. WebQuests that force
collaboration and create a need for discussion and consensus are
the best in your view. If a WebQuest could be done by a student
working alone, it leaves you cold.
Altitudinist: Higher level thinking is everything to you. There's
too much emphasis on factual recall in schools today. The only
justification for bringing technology into schools is if it opens
up the possibility that students will have to analyze information,
synthesize multiple perspectives, and take a stance on the merits
of something. You also value sites that allow for some creative
expression on the part of the learner.
Technophile: You love this internet thang. To you, the best
WebQuest is one that makes the best use of the technology of the
Web. If a WebQuest has attractive colors, animated gifs, and lots
of links to interesting sites, you love it. If it makes minimal
use of the Web, you'd rather use a worksheet.
- Individually, you'll examine each of the sites below and use the
worksheet to jot down some notes of your opinions of each from the
perspective of your role. You'll need to examine each site fairly
quickly. Don't spend more than 7 minutes on any one site. Your
instructor will keep time using this clock:
Here are the sites you'll be
- When everyone in the group has seen all the sites, it's time to get
together to answer the questions. One way to proceed would be to go
around and poll each team member for the best two and worst two from
their perspective. Pay attention to each of the other perspectives, even
if at first you think you might disagree with them.
- There will probably not be unanimous agreement, so the next step is
to talk together to hammer out a compromise consensus about your team's
nominations for best and worst. Pool your perspectives and see if you
can agree on what's best for the learner.
- One person in each group should record the group's thoughts.
- When debriefing time is called, report your results to the whole
class. Do you think the other groups will agree with your conclusions?
Ideally, this exercise will provide you with a larger pool of ideas to
work with as you develop your WebQuest-making skills. The best WebQuest is
yet to be written. It might be yours!
Last updated on September 24, 2002