Are WebQuests Dead?

When I first started teaching, I used to hear about WebQuests all the time. People said that they were great because the kids would actually enjoy learning. They love technology so the motivation to learn would automatically be there.

To be honest, I never found a WebQuest that I liked. Today I barely hear about them anymore. Occasionally I will hear teachers request them as resources, but has anyone found or created one that kids actually enjoy?

What is a WebQuest?

A WebQuest is defined as an “inquiry based, on-line learning activity.” Inquiry-based means that students pursue answers to their own questions. Learning is not directed by the teacher but students have the freedom to take ownership over their own learning. The students interact with pre-made content on the Internet as a guide to learning. WebQuests are typically done in groups in which each person is assigned a certain task to contribute to the whole. According to Bernie Dodge, a WebQuest expert, they should have the following parts: 1) An introduction; 2) A task that is doable and interesting, 3) a set of information sources needed to complete the task included in the WebQuest itself so that the learner is not left to wander through webspace completely adrift; 4) A description of the process the learners should go through in accomplishing the task; 5) Some guidance on how to organize the information acquired; 6) A conclusion that brings closure to the quest, reminds the learners about what they’ve learned, and perhaps encourages them to extend the experience into other domains.

The Death of the WebQuest

I may be wrong about this, so please feel free to disagree. I understand the value of WebQuests because I fall into the constructivist approach to education and I am dedicated to fostering intrinsic motivation for learning. However, I think the Internet and our “digital native” students have evolved beyond WebQuests. They know that the Internet is inherently inquiry-based already. A WebQuest has to be frustrating for students because they are limited to a certain space rather than the ability to explore wherever they want through simple Google searches. In my experience, WebQuests are text-heavy, which is unlike most Internet content today (think Twitter and 140 characters). So I ask, is it worth the time and energy to create? Would we spend our time better designing fully integrated lessons that require the use of multiple online, interactive resources? If WebQuests provide an opportunity for authentic assessment, why wouldn’t the Internet as a whole be a better resource for the completion of the tasks required?

What are your thoughts? Have you had success with WebQuests (lately)? Have they evolved with the Internet? What role does social media play in the death of the WebQuest?


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  1. Amazing_Grace says:

    Our parish does not have the funds or Internet access to do WebQuests. I have never done one but they do sound interesting.

  2. The Koning's says:

    I'm not yet a teacher ( I have my last practice-teaching session in the fall) but for my class on how to teach in the Catholic school system, one of our assignments was to create a webquest. It was brutal! Now I'm not against using technology at all. For some students it is the only way they can connect to the material. However, using technology for technology sake is over kill. It took WAY more time to create than for the students to do, it was very text heavy, which is more boring to read than reading together in class and hard for students with learning disabilities. I would have much rather spent my time creating a lesson plan that was unique and active and that I would have actually used rather than the webquest I had to create.

  3. kkollwitz says:

    Never heard of this.

  4. Jared Dees says:

    Wow, I expected more resistance to this post. Amazing Grace brings up a great point especially for CCD/Religious Ed programs that don't have access to computers. Konigs, my experience was exactly the same. I think it is telling that you completed the assignment for a class you were taking (are education programs behind the times?). Kkollwitz – It seems your not alone!

    Will anyone defend the WebQuest before I completely write it off?

  5. kkollwitz says:

    The Koning post confirmed my prejudices: webquest is something that's likely to get less knowledge into young brains than the sort of human teaching that Socrates or Jesus might have done.

  6. Tony Hollowell says:

    Underneath the surface of this discussion, we get to a VERY disturbing problem in education: the gap between how students use technology and how teachers use technology.

    If we were to construct a bell curve displaying "tech savvy" as the variable, teachers are way below average when compared to their students. Students (as a whole) would average a B+ in this category. Teachers and schools, including their infrastructure to implement tech-savvy ideas, would average a D-.

    Webquests are dead because they are not very interesting to students, and thus their fundmental goal of creating intrinsic motivation fails. Of course, the idea of a webquest is interesting, as are so many other things discussed in education classes. But the reality is anything but interesting. I looked at some of the sample webquests, and I was bored to tears. The amount of text is horrendous, and it is a classic example of educators creating content using dead and outdated internet applications that were built using America Online and a phone modem.

    An old teacher at our school compared his inability to use technology as a foreign language. He said that there are just some things about technology that he will never get, simply because he was not raised in a digital environment. He will NEVER be as fluent at technology type activities as his students. And this man is an orthopedic surgeon and flew F-16's in the Air Force. He is not stupid. But he doesn't understand "technology flow" like his students. He can't speak the language at nearly the same level. I am glad he is aware of this fact, and I think the creators of webquests should keep this in mind, for the exact reasons mentioned in the post ("WebQuests are text-heavy, which is unlike most Internet content today (think Twitter and 140 characters)."

  7. Jared Dees says:

    Thanks Tony, I think that was very well said. There is a lot of anxiety out there among teachers related to this point. They feel inadequate and scared. The bigger question here, I think, is how do we raise that tech-grade from a D- to a passing grade?

  8. Julie S Donati says:

    I have used and made web quests over the last few years…but I find that my high school freshman and sophmore need a lot of guidance to be able to do one. We are a laptop school so they have the capablilities but to make one that is not just looking up the data and writing it down is hard for them. Quest Garden has a great site and has good examples but it is not easy. I made one for the nature of the church and one on the Reformation and the Catholic Church. I ended up feeling that they took up more time than they were worth….

  9. Jared, Thanks for raising the question about “Web Quests!” I’d be curious to hear what the founder of Web Quests has to say about this activity today. I agree that they are time consuming to create. However, there have been some excellent Web Quest projects that have been very successful in the classroom. What I have not seen or heard of are webquests that are focused for Religion topics? Here are a couple of resources – and . Are religion teachers savvy enough to create exciting and interesting web questions that fit the learning needs of their students?

  10. Caroline,
    I wonder the same thing. As you have probably experienced, religion teachers are becoming more and more tech-savvy, but they are still behind the curve on average I would say. Thanks for the links. I wonder, myself, what the founder would say in response.

  11. Yes, I would agree that many of our religion teachers “still lag behind the curve on average.” Educational Technology is just around 35 years old in the US. Many of our school and parish leaders in the past, did not feel that technology and religion had much in common. However, we are able today to ride the “crest of best practices” that others have provided for us in all other subject areas. One of the best ways to do this is to come to INTERACTIVE CONNECTIONS ( or for conference information go to – . We co-locate with the Florida Educational Technology Conference (one of the oldest in the US) that provides a wonderful conference experience for all. We attend as religious educators, listening to the best and the brightest in this field, often using what we hear as a “springboard” for some interesting and exciting projects with our students.

  12. Julie S Donati says:

    I still find that web quests just don’t seem to work well in my class…at the high school level. I wnet to a conference and found out about prezi’s which seem to be a neat way to go beyond power points…but web quests seem to not be as popular. As for ones in religion, there are not too many….