Since early in 1995, teachers everywhere have learned how to use the
web well by adopting the WebQuest
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 questions:
- 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 roles:
The 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
The 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.
The 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.
The 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 analyzing:
- 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. DO NOT JUST TALLY
UP THE VOTES AND DECLARE A WINNER. Instead, begin to put aside your
individual perspective and come to an agreement that takes into account all four
- 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 April 9, 2009