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So, exactly what is a webquest? The concept was created in 1995 by Bernie Dodge and Tom March at the San Diego State University. It revolves around a central task that is created by teachers for their students. Completing the task involves visiting a variety of pre-selected websites for information that is needed to complete said task. Students will typically record the answers they find in a journal, or on a worksheet, and then move on to the next part of the task. Webquests are cross-curricular, and often place an emphasis on critical thinking skills.
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As well as knowing the answer to what is a webquest, you will also want to know what one looks like. The traditional webquest model looks very much like a detailed lesson plan, and has the following components:
- Introduction: The introduction generally gives an overview of what the theme of the webquest is, and the lists a scenario, or focus to the task. As with the rest of the webquest, it is written for a student audience.
- Task: The task is like your lesson objectives. What do you, the teacher, want your students to have learned, or produced, at the end of this webquest?
- Process: Here you will find the step by step directions for students to follow. This section can include any rules and timing for completion, but primarily it will list the Internet resources that you want the students to visit in order to complete the objectives you laid out in the task section.
- Evaluation: The evaluation section is essentially a rubric that informs the students how you will be grading them on their final product.
- Conclusion: This usually includes a summary of the learning, and can include questions for further self-study or reflection.
However, just as teachers' lesson plans will vary in detail, so will the format of webquests. Some are much less formal than this, and may only include a short introduction and a process. This is not to say that the other steps are not covered by the teacher in class, but it is worth knowing that there are some variations in this layout.
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Where Can I Find Webquests?
Knowing where to find ready made examples of webquests, is just as important as knowing exactly what is a webquest. Teachers can make their own of course, but, as with SMART Board lessons, there are plenty of shared resources online. A good place to start is WebQuest.org. This is the official webquest website that was started by one of the original creators, Bernie Dodge, and it contains examples, help, and information on everything to do with webquests. Otherwise, a simple search with your favorite search engines will quickly uncover another wealth of resources. Just think of the topic you are studying, e.g. simple machines, and type 'simple machines webquest' in the search box. Bright Hub also has a growing library of webquests, so use the search box above, or check out this great example.
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Webquests are often completed in small groups, but can be done individually. Small groups are usually the preferred method because the students have more interaction with each other, and can jointly evaluate the information they find on a given website. Webquests traditionally include questions that involve some degree of higher level thinking, so having the students working in groups is a good way to generate a level of involvement and topic discussion that they would not encounter when working by themselves. Webquests can be completed in a computer lab, but the popularity of mobile learning solutions have led to more and more being conducted in the classroom too.
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Webquests are great motivators for students as they almost always enjoy doing them. They are an innovative, project-based learning experience that can really challenge the boundaries of learning in your classroom. So if you have yet to try one, this is a great time to start.
A Webquest Guide
What is a webquest, and how can you best use them in your classroom? This series gives teachers tips and advice on how to use webquests at school.