A WebQuest is defined as “an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that students interact with comes from resources on the Internet.” This focus on inquiry is designed to lead the student to operate at the higher level thinking skills of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Bernie Dodge, assisted by Tom March, developed the model for WebQuests in 1995 at San Diego State University. For a WebQuest, teachers provide the required Web resources in order to save time and allow students to complete the activity efficiently during the assigned class time.
A WebQuest presents students with a challenging task or problem to solve. The information sources presented in the WebQuest should require the learners to evaluate the relevance and importance of the content as it relates to the given task. Usually students would begin by learning some common background material and then be divided into groups. Each student in the group has a role or task to master. Basically, they become experts on one aspect of the topic. When the students come together, they summarize their findings to complete the project. Outlined below are the essential elements of a WebQuest based on the model created by Bernie Dodge.
This assignment is comprised of a carefully and thoughtfully designed constructivist exercise leading your students through questions they answer by researching topics using both Internet sites and reference materials provided by you, the teacher. This activity involves a student page AND a teacher page. These two pages are designed separately – though much of the material is the same. It is easiest to begin by designing the student page first.
The student page is the instructional direction for the students themselves – for example, it includes (but is not limited to): lesson introduction (for the student), tasks, description of process, informational resources, assessment rubrics, and a conclusion.
The teacher page is specially designed for a facilitator with focus given to: lesson overview, standards, objectives, handouts, assessment rubrics, citations; anything another teacher might need to know in order to complete your WebQuest.
The web has a wealth of learning resources, but all that information needs sound pedagogical structure in order for our students to transform that information into meaningful knowledge. The WebQuest, when well-designed, is one tool that can lead the learner into creativity, problem-solving, analysis, and synthesis, all those higher-level thinking skills that we desire to occur.
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