MET:Inquiry Based Learning - Webquest
This page was originally authored by Jay Dixon (2009).
A student logs into their classroom or home computer and they find a lesson on their teacher's website. They are introduced to the subject on the screen in front of them. After they read through a clear introduction about the subject or topic area a detailed interactive task or "Quest" is outlined before them. Through a guided exploration through the internet the student gains a vast amount of knowledge using a communication medium which is second nature to students today. This page will explore this type of Inquiry Based Learning- A "WebQuest"
What is a WebQuest?
A WebQuest is an inquiry based learning activity in which most or all of the information used by the students is drawn from exploring the Internet. WebQuests are a type of Constructivist Learning Environment designed to help ensure that students stay on task while online therefore using the students' time well. They also are guided to focus on using information rather than looking for it. They are designed to act as research guides to help students navigate through the vast amount of information on the world wide web. WebQuest support students' thinking at the levels of analysis, synthesis and evaluation. The Webquest model was developed in early 1995 at San Diego State University by Bernie Dodge with Tom March. WebQuests may be created by anyone, however for the most part they are developed by educators.
Parts of a WebQuest:
The introduction to a WebQuest often provides a "hook" to get the participants excited about the content of their quest. Often the "hook" is a short video online, an interactive game, a story, or some pictures. the introduction sets the stage for the task that will be performed. The Internet provides a plethora of "hook" activities that connect well to any grade, age, or subject area.
The second part is the task or activity that describes what students will do. The task or activity can be catered to the age or grade level of the student. Then there is a list of what to do and how to do it. Generally a Webquest is located on a webpage that easily can provide hyperlinks to the research content. The task is the single most important part of a WebQuest. It provides a goal and focus for student energies and it makes concrete the curricular intentions of the designer. There are usually a list of links to follow to complete the the tasks. A Taxonomy of Tasks provides specific details on task formats and suggests ways to optimize a task use. It provides a language for discussing WebQuest tasks that should enhance the teacher's ability to design them well.
This is a step-by-step description of how the students / participants will accomplish the task. There will be links, activities, specific directions, and assignments depending on the content area.
Resources should be embedded in the process including web links pertaining to information or relative media. Classroom resources such as text books, and library materials can also be connected to a WebQuest. Students should be required to use the information they acquire during their quest to create ways to communicate learned knowledge.
In order for students to understand that participating in a WebQuest is much more than “surfing for fun” students should be aware of the criteria for levels of success. Establishing criteria will improve understanding, quality of work, and also motivation. Often criteria is in the form of a rubric. Please click here for an example of WebQuest rubric created by Bernie Dodge. Curriculum guidelines should be clearly addressed in the scoring guide/ rubric.
A conclusion provides students with information, links or questions to attempt further study and review. Also a culminating activity or message should be provided relating students' knowledge to other topics or situations.
For more information about WebQuest design see: The WebQuest Design Process
Why a WebQuest?
A quality WebQuest makes learning interesting and interactive for students. Several other factors make the use of WebQuests a powerful learning tool including:
- A webquest can be subject specific or be cross curricular.
- WebQuest can quickly be created for any grade, age, or subject area.
- WebQuests are a way to let students work at their own pace, either individually or in collaborative groups.
- WebQuests can also increase the technological literacy of students using the Internet for learning activities.
- Students today may already be computer literate,however a WebQuest can help students become researchers rather than simply "surfing" from one site to another.
- They incorporate a constructivist philosophy whereby students are actively participating in scaffolding, critical and creative thinking, questioning, and understanding.
- A webquest is a modern style of research and exploration that students can connect to.
- The design, purpose, and layout of a WebQuest connect well to Bloom's theories. Benjamin Bloom identified six levels within the cognitive domain.Bloom's Taxonomy has similar components as the format and outcomes of a webquest. The six levels are: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.
- A WebQuest is an edcuational application other than gaming for classroom and home computers.
External Links & Examples of a WebQuest:
- Dinosaur WebQuest Dinosaur - A WebQuest for Grade Two, Coordinated by J. Byers Designed by Ruth Elliott & Christine Todd
- ACID RAIN The Acid Rain WebQuest was featured in the March, 2001 episode of NetFiles.
-  A WebQuest about a WebQuest by Bernie Dodge
- QuestGarden is an online authoring tool, community and hosting service that is designed to make it easier and quicker to create a high quality WebQuest. No knowledge of web editing or uploading is required.
- WebQuest 101 - A series of short videos developed by SDSU Professor T. J. Kopcha. Part 1: What is a WebQuest | Part 2: How to Make a WebQuest
- A WebQuest about WebQuests - An exercise that's useful for introducing the concept to educators. 
- Templates provide an easy way to get started creating your WebQuest. This site contains templates for designing WebQuests developed by Dr. Bernie Dodge. 
- An online workshop for teachers about WebQuest. Thirteen Ed Online
Stop Motion Animation:
Christy-Lynn Smith - Inquiry Based Learning: WebQuests
Cruz, E. (2004). Encyclopedia of Educational Technology: Bloom's Revised Taxonomy. Retrieved February 21, 2009 from http://coe.sdsu.edu/eet/Articles/BloomsT/index.htm
Dodge, B. (1995) Some Thoughts About WebQuests. Retrieved February 21, 2009, from http://webquest.sdsu.edu/about_webquests.html