A WebQuest About WebQuests

Adapted from A WebQuest About WebQuests by Bernie Dodge.


Do your students roll their eyes when you introduce a new unit?
Do they groan when a writing assignment is made?
Do they rush for the door when the bell brings?

For over ten years, teachers have used the WebQuest format to transform traditional lessons into engaging, inquiry-based learning experiences. But what exactly is a WebQuest? What does it feel like to do one? How do you know a good one when you see it? Let's find out!

The Task

To create great WebQuests, you need a thorough understanding of the different possibilities open to you as you create web-based lessons. Let's critically analyze a number of WebQuest examples and discuss them from multiple perspectives.

By the end of this experience, you and your group will answer these questions:

  1. Which two of example WebQuests listed below are the best ones? Why?
  2. Which two are the worst? Why?
  3. What do best and worst mean to you?

The Process

Step 1: Assign Roles

To answer the questions given above, you'll be working in a group with four members. Within the group, each of you will take on one of the following roles:

The Efficiency Expert: You value time a great deal. You believe that too much time is wasted in today's classrooms on unfocused activity and learners not knowing what they should be doing at a given moment. To you, a good WebQuest is one that delivers the most learning bang for the buck. If it's a short, unambitious activity that teaches a small thing well, then you like it. If it's a longterm activity, it had better deliver a deep understanding of the topic it covers, in your view.

The Affiliator: To you, the best learning activities are those in which students learn to work together. WebQuests that force collaboration and create a need for discussion and consensus are the best in your view. If a WebQuest could be done by a student working alone, it leaves you cold.

The Altitudinist: Higher level thinking is everything to you. There's too much emphasis on factual recall in schools today. The only justification for bringing technology into schools is if it opens up the possibility that students will have to analyze information, synthesize multiple perspectives, and take a stance on the merits of something. You also value sites that allow for some creative expression on the part of the learner.

The Technophile: You love this internet thang. To you, the best WebQuest is one that makes the best use of the technology of the Web. If a WebQuest has attractive colors, animated gifs, and lots of links to interesting sites, you love it. If it makes minimal use of the Web, you'd rather use a worksheet.

Step 2

Individually, you'll examine each of the sites below. Jot down some notes of your opinions of each from the perspective of your role. Consider the STRENGTHS and WEAKNESSES of each. You'll need to examine each site fairly quickly. Don't spend more than 5 minutes on any one site.

Here are the sites you'll be analyzing:

Middle School
High School

Step 3

When everyone in the group has seen all the sites, it's time to get together to answer the questions. One way to proceed would be to go around and poll each team member for the best two and worst two from their perspective. Pay attention to each of the other perspectives, even if at first you think you might disagree with them.

Step 4

There will probably not be unanimous agreement, so the next step is to talk together to hammer out a compromise consensus about your team's nominations for best and worst. Pool your perspectives and see if you can agree on what's best for the learner. DO NOT JUST TALLY UP THE VOTES AND DECLARE A WINNER. Instead, begin to put aside your individual perspective and come to an agreement that takes into account all four perspectives.

Step 5

One person in each group should record the group's thoughts.

Step 6

When debriefing time is called, report your results to the whole class. Do you think the other groups will agree with your conclusions?


Ideally, this exercise will provide you with a larger pool of ideas to work with as you develop your WebQuest-making skills. The best WebQuest is yet to be written. It might be yours!

Adapted from A WebQuest About WebQuests by Bernie Dodge. Adapted by Annette Lamb, 10/07.