What is a webquest?
The word webquest is really two words "web" and "quest" (search), that is, "searching on the net". It is a learning activity in which students have to learn to cooperate to solve different kinds of tasks. In this way they learn in an autonomous and funnier way. What is more, it is also a way to integrate technology and problem based learning.
Bernie Dodge, the webquest developer defined the webquest in 1995 as "an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the Internet . . ."
Therefore, students have to use the acquired information to create something new (a blog, a newspaper, an advertisement, etc). In this process, the teacher is just a guider who has to set the frame, a webpage, in order to design the whole project. The following step is to create the webquest.
How to create the webquest?
- The teacher introduces the topic in an interesting way to motivate their students. This topic should be based on a curriculum area.
- Then, students read that introduction. Depending on the webquest you can assign them different roles as well.
- The teacher decides how he wants the students to complete the webquest, I mean, the tasks. To help them to complete the task, the teacher has to include website links with a short description about the information they will find in those sites. It is very important that the teacher sets clearly the steps the students have to follow in order to complete the tasks.
- After that, the students read and collect the data from the links, videos, online resources the teacher have carefully chosen.
- The teacher should also specify how the students are going to be evaluated. There will be as well an evaluation of the group itself, I mean, the students will think carefully on their own working process, on what they have learnt and on the outcome.
- Finally, the students make the tasks and submit them to the teacher for approval.
What are the advantages of using webquests in class?
In my opinion, using webquests in class has many advantages:
1. They are exposed to a more interactive way of working in class and with materials, ideas that they will not find in the curriculum.
2. They can learn and think by themselves, the teacher is just a guide. Therefore, it is a model centered in the student's proccess of learning.
3. WebQuests are a great way to foster collaboration and critical thinking.
4. Webquests are an organizational tool which offers an organized approach for using the web. Therefore, students do not waste time searching on website which can be really useless or offer faked information.
5. Students learn to work in groups.
You will find many examples of webquests on the net. One I love is Mystery in the Middle Ages from a Catalonian teacher. But there are many examples such as A Family Trip to London or Shakespeare from Isabel Perez website, Dear Agony Aunt designed by Anna Morales or Recycling by Cristina Arnau or Miguel's ones.
An interesting directory which contains a lot of Webquests made for the ESL/EFL classroom is the following one WebQuestcat
For those of you who are not familiarized with Webquests and want to know more about what they are, how to create them and the beneficts these activities bring for our students, I provide some interesting references:
- Dodge, B. (1995). Some Thoughts About WebQuest.
- Lamb and Larry Johnson (2002-2007) Internet Expeditions: Exploring, Using, Adapting and Creating Webquests.
- Susan Brooks and Bill Byles Using a Webquest in Your Classroom
- Nancy Pickett and Bernie Dodge (2007) Rubrics for Web Lessons
Please, let me know your webquests experiences in class or leave a comment. I would like you make this blog with your comments. Thanks a lot in advance.