Teachers searching for ways to make technology more meaningful should take a look at WebQuests as a tool to support inquiry-based learning.
Bernie Dodge is the creator of WebQuests, which he developed for use in a lesson he taught at San Diego State University. Dodge describes his idea behind WebQuests “was to create lessons that make good use of the web, engage learners in applying higher level thinking to authentic problems, and use everyone’s time well.” A WebQuest, according to Dodge, must be centered on “an interesting and achievable task that mirrors a task that an adult might do, albeit a scaled-down version.” He stressed that the task assigned must involve “analysis, creativity, and problem solving.”
A description of his process and the progression of WebQuests can be found at WebQuest.org, where you can also find free WebQuests, create your own, and share the ones you’ve made with other educators.
TeAch-nology.com advises that creation of your own web pages can be helpful when making a WebQuest. Zunal.com provides a free service to assist teachers in creating a WebQuest. Questgarden.com sells an online authoring tool to create WebQuests at a cost of $20 for a one-year subscription. There are free WebQuests which can be downloaded from the internet, and both lessons and subscriptions that can be purchased online. Teacherspayteachers.com has many free WebQuests for use by teachers, and others for sale from their sponsors at a wide range of prices. Bookwidgets.com offers WebQuest subscriptions for $9 per month or $49 per year. There are many others, but take a close look to ensure the one you choose is a quality product that aligns with your needs.
As with any online tool, WebQuests have advantages and disadvantages:
As students enter the workforce, they will be challenged to evaluate all information from all sources and WebQuests can
help them learn this skill.
The central question in a WebQuest concentrates the web search and saves both time and inappropriate web surfing to help students search for information effectively.
Students can research the question posed by the WebQuest both at school and at home, working on the lesson at their own pace.
A good WebQuest should be clear and concise so that students know what they are being asked, and what steps to follow to
reach a well-supported answer.
There are ineffective WebQuests and teachers must be careful to find or create one that relates to the lesson to be learned while encouraging critical thinking and creativity.
Teachers must work closely with their students to instruct them how to evaluate and verify the information presented on the internet.
WebQuests can be time consuming and the inquiry and search must be developed with the class time frame in mind.
Students must be guided so that the WebQuest activity serves as the spark to light a student’s imagination, creativity, and critical
Technology plays a very important part in almost every student’s life, and WebQuests are a productive way to not only teach students a responsible approach to the internet, but also how to use it as a learning tool. Begin to explore WebQuest.org to see if this strategy is right for your classroom.