WebQuest – A Really Big Thing in Internet Research, or Smoke and Mirrors?

Have you heard of this thing? Apparently, WebQuest has been around forever (in Internet-Years). In fact, according to WebQuest.org, the original model for this was developed by Bernie Dodge at San Diego State University in early
1995. Personally, I’ve only been exposed to it in the last few months through a graduate-level course in Teaching with Technology.

While it’s been a useful tool in setting up lesson plans and even in larger curricula development, I’m thinking I might be missing some of the nuances of this, considering some of the “best thing since sliced bread” comments I’ve run across. There are quite a number of sites around that share WebQuest Lesson Plans, as well as providing templates for creating them. Two of the larger environments for them seem to be WebQuest.org itself, and Zunal.com. Zunal seems to be a more plug-and-play-friendly template home, whereas WebQuest talks more about what it is and how it was developed.

WebQuests are designed to enable a pretty deep critical thinking level of learning. The categories each WebQuest entails are (in order):

Welcome: A brief overview: What it’s about, who it’s for (grade level), and what discipline.

Introduction: Setting, background, overview of the assignment.

Task: The heart of the matter – What you want to see accomplished.

Process: How will your students complete the above task?

Evaluation: Pretty self-explanatory. How will you grade it, what are your rubrics for evaluating the work?

Conclusion: To wrap up for the student. What did they learn? What do they now WANT to learn?

Teacher’s Page: This one is to list any information any fellow educator who uses your WebQuest might want to know: Additional resources, credits, observations, etc.

Finally, WebQuest does in fact seem a useful tool, especially in the area of sharing standardized lesson plans and curricula with peers, and not having to reinvent the wheel when there are literally thousands of already completed WebQuests out there for sharing use. I’m still not sure it’s in that sliced bread category though.