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?