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Using a WebQuest in Your Classroom

Links verified on 11/21/2014

Definition | Basic Form | Evaluation | Collections | Choosing a Topic
Locating Resources | Constructing Quest | Making a Link | WebGuide



The originator of this format for web based lessons, Dr. Bernie Dodge, says that a WebQuest is .".. an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the Internet..."

For a quick summary of the process, read Why WebQuests written by the co-developer of the concept, Tom March. Tom gives some very sound advice on the advantages of using this way of organizing your Internet-based lessons.

Basic Form

There are five basic components of an average WebQuest

  • set the stage for the activity.
  • catch the reader's attention to draw them into the quest
  • provide background information.

  • state what the students will be required to do
  • avoid surprises down the road
  • detail what products will be expected and the tools that are to be used to produce them.

  • give a step-by-step description, concise and clearly laid out
  • provide links to Internet sites interwoven within the steps.

  • display a rubric to measure the product as objectively as possible
  • leave little room for question

  • summarize the experience
  • allow reflection about the process.
  • add higher level questions that may be researched at another time.
  • Give food for thought as to where they can go with the info they have learned, using it in a different situation.

For a more complete description of each component go to Building Blocks of a WebQuest . For another way to see each component, look at a template for constructing your own WebQuest .

Webquest 101 – Putting Discovery into the Curriculum - This tutorial, from TeachersFirst.com, introduces you to WebQuests– an internet activity which lets you create something useful for your students while increasing your web "comfort level" at the same time. A well-designed webquest lets you turn your students loose on the web for a specific project and get results that both you and your students will like.

What is a WebQuest? An on-line lesson produced by WNET in New York (Channel 13) in Partnership with the Disney Learning Partnership.


If you have not had experience designing your own Internet based lessons before, it would be helpful for you to see a sample of quests currently available on the Internet. To accomplish this, you will go on a WebQuest about WebQuests. In this activity you will be asked to determine the best two quests and the worst two.

For suggestions for evaluating any web page see The ABC's of Web Site Evaluation (presented by Kathy Schrock). " Evaluation of Web sites is an important skill to learn in this age of digital and information literacy. Students and teachers need practice in critically examining sites to determine authority, authenticity, and applicability to purpose. This site provides that practice."

Collections of WebQuests

There are a growing number of collections of WebQuests available on the Internet. (Collection links verified on 11/22/14)
  1. Dr. Bernie Dodge hosts a search engine of WebQuests organized by subject area and grade level.
  2. Tom March, co-developer of the WebQuest concept has started a database of excellent WebQuests at Bestwebquests.com . Be sure you check back on a regular basis. Tom's database is growing.
  3. E-Themes - No, they are not WebQuests, but they do have lessons, organized by grade level, on a large variety of topics. Use this list as a way to find resources for your Quest.
  4. Debbie Rollins, a Virginia teacher, has a matrix of WebQuests divided by subject area and grade level.
  5. K-3 Webquests - all subject areas
  6. Language Arts webquests - K-5
  7. Sheppard's Science Resources - Webquests
  8. The Web Quest Place - links to collections of WebQuests
  9. WebQuests posted by a variety of school systems
    1. Illinois' Area III Learning Technology Center [This expired link is available through the Wayback Machine Internet Archive. If the page doesn't load quickly click on Impatient? at the bottom right of the page.]
    2. Los Angeles Unified School District - a list of high school level quests compiled by Dr. Carolyn Burleson
    3. Memphis City Schools - This page was captured by the Wayback Machine in 2003. Caution, I am quite certain that there are many dead links on these pages. [This expired link is available through the Wayback Machine Internet Archive. If the page doesn't load quickly click on Impatient? at the bottom right of the page. You might need to click several times, but it's there.]
    4. Shelby County Schools (Tennessee)
    5. WebQuest Academy - Creating Curriculum-based Internet Activities for K-12 Students posted by Warrensburg, Missouri Schools
  10. Individual WebQuests
    1. Are Chickens the Only Ones? - First grade Science
    2. Life During the Civil War - Sixth grade History
    3. Radio Days - research the history of radio drama
    4. Voices from the Past - ( High School ) This Oral History WebQuest was designed for use following a specific videotape. However, the ideas can be adapted to use with any oral history assignment.  

Choosing a Topic

Dr. Dodge says, "Well begun is more than half done. It's critical in the early stages of WebQuest development that you stack the decks in favor of your own success. You need to identify a topic that is worth your spending time on and one that takes advantage of the Web and the WebQuest format."

Some topics make poor candidates for Quest topics. Resources for teaching a topic effectively may be located on the web, yet the facts found do not require synthesis by the students. As an example, consider a topic from Earth Science.

Moh's Hardness Scale - A search for this topic found the following:

At the end of that search, a student might be able to list, in order, the ten minerals on Moh's scale. However, little could be done with this information.

Topics which make the best WebQuests generally fall into one of two patterns; difficult problems which call for creative solutions, and subjects about which there is genuine disagreement. The subject of bullying will be used to illustrate both of these.

  • Develop a Creative Solution - About some topics there is no disagreement that something must be done. What is missing, however, is a solution to the problem. A quest which allows students to develop creative solutions would be a good way to approach such a topic. " Everyone Wins When We Stop Schoolyard Bullying. "
  • Support a Position - Students collect information then defend one side or another. Topics about where there is general disagreement in the research community would be excellent choices. This is the classic debate scenario. If a bullying WebQuest were written from this perspective it might be, " Who is harmed the most by bullying; the victim or the bully? "

Locating Resources

Learn search rules at a limited number of search engines and do most of your searching from those sites. Whatever your favorite search engine is, take a moment to try a clustering search engine. A list of clustering search engines can be found at Internet4Classrooms' Search suggestions page. Often, while I am searching, I discover other terms that might have improved my search by looking at the sub directories.

Bookmark liberally. Set up a file in your bookmarks list, and drag bookmarks to that list. Before you actually start writing your Quest it is far better to have too many book marked sites than not enough. For a WebQuest on tropical rain forests more than four dozen sites were book marked, but only ten were incorporated into the Quest.

Need to see some sample rubrics before you start writing them? Rubrics for Teachers has a ton of them! Ready to write your own rubric? Go to RubiStar and see their rubric creation forms.

Other Resources

Process Guides - It is important that we instruct students not only to do the subject matter assignments, but also processes that allow them to be more efficient. The following process guides are designed for student use.

Instructions on adapting and enhancing an existing WebQuest

  • Production scaffolds - These are helps provided to assist learners in actually producing something observable that conveys what they've learned. They are useful when the form of what is to be produced follows the conventions of some genre, publication or presentation format.
  • Reception scaffolds - These are helps provided to assist learners in garnering information from the sources we put before them. They are designed to direct the learner's attention to what is important, and to help them organize and record what they perceive.
  • Transformation scaffolds - These are helps provided to assist learners in transforming the information they've received into some other form. They involve imposing structure on information, while reception scaffolds help learners perceive structure already in the information.

Constructing the Quest

Dr. Dodge has provided templates for you to modify. Many Quests you see around the Internet have a similar look because most people use his template. For this workshop you will modify a saved copy to the template. You have already looked at the page to see the basic structure of a WebQuest. Return to that page to see the template for constructing your own WebQuest . This time the page opens in a new window. You can go from that window back to this one, both will be open. Tom March also has a WebQuest template you may want to use.

InstantWebQuest - "InstantWebquest is a web based software for creating WebQuests in a short time. When you use InstantWebQuest, you will not need any of writing HTML code or using any web editor software. InstantWebQuest creates all the necessary files and puts them into the server free. Hosting and registration are Free .

Teach-nology provides a WebQuest Generator - Fill in the sections on this page with required information for each step. Be specific and clear. To help you with that process, each section of the generator spells out what should be included.

As you begin to write WebQuests for your own classroom, you may find that adapting the work of another teacher gets you off to a good start. To that end, Dr. Dodge has provided instructions on Adapting and Enhancing Existing WebQuests .

If you wish to write a WebQuest in the form of a Word document, a Word template is available for download.

Step 1. From the File menu, choose Edit Page. This opens the WebQuest Template, or any other page you are viewing, in Netscape Composer. You may now edit the page.

Step 2. From the File menu, choose Save As... Change the name of the document to your last name in lower case. Change the Save In location at the top of the dialog box to Desktop . (You may also save to your floppy disk)

Step 3. Begin editing the document to make it your own WebQuest.

Making a Link

The presence of links embedded in the unit plan is a defining characteristic of a WebQuest. Two tutorials on how to create links are available ast Internet4Classrooms.

Creating Hyperlinks in Word - Use this module to learn how to make a hyperlink to a place on a document, to another document on your computer, or to an Internet page.

Creating Links in Dreamweaver - Basic steps for creating links to external pages (Those you find somewhere on the web) as well as links between several pages on your site.



Explanation of the WebGuide template - build a lesson around a single Internet site or see an example - See an index of WebGuides - download a copy of the template (MS Word format)

Internet4classrooms is a collaborative effort by Susan Brooks and Bill Byles.




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