WebQuests

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What is a WebQuest?

WebQuests are inquiry-based activities that are developed on and use the web for resources. According to Tom March, [1] who along with Bernie Dodge developed the idea of WebQuests, in a "real WebQuest, newly acquired information undergoes an important transformation within learners themselves." He further states that "getting information - the 'learning input' - is the easy part." WebQuests not only engage students in a technology activity they link "sound learning strategies with the effective use of the Web."

WebQuests vs. Web Hunts
WebQuests differ from other web activities in that they are designed to require higher level thinking skills. Many web activities (i.e. - scavenger hunts) merely require students to search, find and record/report information found with little or no understanding of the information retrieved.

Finding WebQuests

NOTE: Some of the following information was used with permission from Bernie Dodge and Tom March.

WebQuest.org

While there are many pre-existing WebQuests available on the web, we will highlight a few different places to start searching for WebQuests that may be relevant to help meet your curriculum needs. The first is WebQuest.org which is the home site of the WebQuest. When you arrive at the site you will see along the left side of the page a list of links. One is called Find WebQuests.

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If you click on the link you will be brought to a search page which will let you look for WebQuest using either a keyword search, or search by curriculum area and grade level.

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If you know what topic you are looking for using the Free text search you can see if the title of an existing WebQuest matches the subject that you are looking at. If you would rather seem some of the WebQuests that are out there that relate to your curriculum area and grade level you may want to look at the Curriculum x Grade Level Matrix. This will bring up a listing of lessons that have been categorized under the search parameters that you stated.

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Once you have the matrix in front of you now all you have to do is click on the WebQuest that you would like to look at. This will open the WebQuest in a new browser window so that you can look around and get back to your search results quickly and easily.

Best WebQuests.com

Best WebQuest.com is a web site by WebQuest co creator Tom March. This site offers matrix of reviewed WebQuests. The site is useful to find a WebQuest in relation to a specific curriculum area and grade level.

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From this matrix you can click on the Content area links to show a listing of all the WebQuests under that content are. You can also click on the number that corresponds to the Grade level and curriculum area that you are looking for (Note that some areas have a - instead of a number, meaning that there are no lessons for this subject and grade level). Once you have clicked on the area you would like to look at you will see a page that shows the title of the WebQuest and a short description of the WebQuest.

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If you see a WebQuest that interests you simply clicking on the title will bring you to a page that give a breakdown of the lesson.

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Simply clicking on the title of the lesson from this page will open up the actual WebQuest for you to take a look at.

Google and Other Search Engines

As with looking for anything on the Internet it is helpful to search using a search engine such as Google or Yahoo!. Using some different search strategies will help you find WebQuests that relate to the topic you are interested in. One such strategy is to use Boolean operators in your search. For example if I wanted to search for a WebQuest on the Great Depression I would enter the following information into the search engine webquest+"Great Depression". This would return any web pages that include the word webquest and the phrase Great Depression. By using the + sign with your search you can make sure that your search only looks for pages with both words in on the page. By using "quotation" marks you can easily look for a specific phrase with in a page. These are just two of the Boolean operators that will work in almost any search engine. The benefit of using these types of search operators is that it will truncate your search so instead of looking through a million web pages you will only have to look at a few thousand.

Sample WebQuests

WebQuests by Tom March

Evaluating WebQuests

Use the following questions when evaluating a WebQuest you have found on the Web:

  • Could students achieve this learning just as effectively without the Internet?
  • Is this WebQuest real, rich, and relevant?
  • Could the answer(s) be copied and pasted?
  • Does the task(s) require students to make something new out of what they have learned?

Creating a WebQuest

What is a WebQuest

Learn more about what a WebQuest by visiting the What is a WebQuest article.

Adapting an Existing WebQuest

Creating a WebQuest can be a time consuming task. Since there have been a lot of WebQuests already created there is a good chance that someone has already created a WebQuest out there on your subject, or at least something close. Take a look at Bernie Dodge's flow chart about the steps to Adapting and Enhancing Existing WebQuests about what things you might want to consider before creating your own WebQuest. If you find a WebQuest that already exists here are some of the steps you will want to take to adapt the WebQuest for your classroom.

Asking Permission

Once you have found a WebQuest that you like online you have two choices. You can either use the WebQuest as is, or you can adapt it to fit student needs. Most of the time you will probably want to adapt a WebQuest. Before you start saving things down from the web you first need to obtain permission to use the WebQuest. A simple email to the WebQuest designer requesting permission to adapt the WebQuest should work in most cases. Be sure to let the creator know what you are planning to do with their WebQuest and send a copy or the web address to the creator of the original WebQuest as a courtesy.

Tools for Adapting a WebQuest

Using Microsoft Word

If you are interested in beginning to adapt a WebQuest, but aren't sure you are ready to jump into web page development don't worry you can do similar things inside of a Microsoft Word document. To start with simply select the entire web page you want to copy by opening your web browser. In your web browser go to Edit>Select All and then Edit>Copy. Now you will want to paste the information that you just copied into an open Word Document.

Now you should have a Word document with all of the information of the page in a Word document on your local computer. From here you can easily edit the page as you would like. Some basic things that you will want to know when adapting a WebQuest using Word is how to:

  • insert a hyperlink
  • have students use the document
  • navigating the Word document as a web page.

To insert a hyperlink in Microsoft Word you will want to go to highlight the word that you want to become the link. Then go to Insert>Hyperlink and then paste the hyperlink into the menu that appears in the address field.

When you have finished adjusting the WebQuest in the Word document you will want to be able to have students use your creation. One way to do this is put a copy on your computer network and then copying it to desktop for students to use. You may want to protect the Word document to keep students from changing things from one class to the next.

To navigate the Word document as if it were a web page is actually pretty easy. The only concern is to see how the links open in the Word document. Some computers are set up so that you have to hold the ctrl key down and then click to open a web page from Word. This should not cause any issues, but may be something your students need to learn.

Using Web Design tools

Once you have received permission to adapt someones WebQuest you can easily download the files from the persons web site. To do this, open the WebQuest page in your web browser and simply click File > Save As, this will open a window that asks where you would like to save your page. I would suggest making a folder that allows you to save all of the files that you download to one place. Once you have downloaded the relevant pages of the WebQuest you will need to have a web page editing program, such as Microsoft FrontPage or Macromedia Dreamweaver. Of course, you can use any web design software available in your school or at home.

Once you decide on what program to use it is suggested that you learn more on web design. This will give you a better understanding about producing content for the Internet. WebQuests available on the web are stored remotely on a server or computer. What this means is that files are uploaded to the server or computer and stored there for users to access via the Internet. If you'd like your WebQuest to be accessible on the webOne additional thing is to make sure that you have a place where you can put your WebQuest when you are done.

Selecting a WebQuest Project

How Can The WebQuest Framework Address My Curriculum?
Teaching students to become critical thinkers takes time and requires teaching students skills and content within a context. WebQuests can create a context that allows students to look at a variety of resources and structures their investigation into the question that they are answering.

Creating the WebQuest

When you are creating a WebQuest of your own there are some basic steps that you need to take. The following steps are in no real particular order and depend on how you design your own lessons. The first thing you might want to do is download or save a WebQuest template from the WebQuest page. From the WebQuest page you want to go into the Training Materials section of the page.

Once you are in the Training Materials section you will have to scroll down the page and under the header Specific Aspects you will see an area called Lesson Templates for Students and Teachers when you click on this link you will be brought to a page where you can download templates to use.

There are three templates to choose from. You will see a preview of the template on the right hand side and links to the downloadable version to the right.carrier heat pump

Of the three different types of templates the most basic and easiest to work with is the Traditional, No-Frame Version. Depending on whether you are working on a Mac or PC depends on which template you will want to download.


If you are using a PC you will click the Zipped version (for PCs). Then Internet Explorer will ask what you want to do with the file.

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Save the file in My Documents. When we unzip and save the file we will make sure that it is saved in a place that allows you to edit it as a web page.


If you are using an older Mac you will want to download the Binhexed version (for Mac). If you are using OSX you can download the zipped file without any problem. When you begin the download you should see a window like this open showing the download

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I would create a folder in the Documents folder called 'Websites and save the folder you download there.

Once you have the template save on your computer the next step is to begin filling it in or to begin looking for resources that you want students to use.

Choosing a Lesson

There are a few different ways to decide what lesson you would like to create a WebQuest with. First, you may want to choose a lesson that has been a struggle for you or your students. You can also find a WebQuest you like and adapt it for your classroom. Choosing a topic where a lot of resources are already available on-line is also very helpful. Visit the WebQuest Design Process site for more guidance in getting started.

NOTE: It is important to remember that WebQuests are not simply scavanger hunts, they are intended to have students look critically at resources through inquiry-based experiences and come to a conclusion based on the tasks and processes provided.

Filling in the Template

The WebQuest template is designed in such a way that you can see the basic structure and fill in your own content as you go. To begin doing this you will want to open your WebQuest template page with a web design tool. For this class we will use Microsoft Frontpage. If you aren’t sure if you have this at school or are working on a Mac I would suggest going to http://www.nvu.com/index.php and downloading NVU which is very similar to Frontpage and is free.

Once we have download the template we want to open it with Frontpage. Go to the Start menu and go to Programs then select Microsoft Frontpage from the program menu. Once Frontpage is open go to File>Open and select the lesson-template1.htm from where you saved the template.

Note:One problem that happens a lot with the template is that when you begin filling in the template the font sizes change without you wanting them to. One quick solution to this is to go to Edit>Select All and change the font size to 3 this will prevent the size from changing without you telling it to.

Once you have the template open you will want to save it in your site folder. This is a folder that contains all of you sites documents. Since we want to keep the blank template so that we can use it later we want to go to File>Save As and save this page with the name index.html this will make this the homepage of the WebQuest. One hint when naming web pages is to make sure that you don’t use capital letters, spaces, or odd characters such as apostrophes.

Now you have the basic structure of the WebQuest. The next thing to do is to begin constructing the Task and/or Collecting resources.

I find that I like to draft out the Task and Process in a very rough outline and then begin to look for resources on the web. This way I can find relevant resources and adjust the Process and Task depending on the availability of resources on the web. Don't forget to keep a list of websites that you have used a resources for citing

Web Development Tools

Take a look here for how to use some different web development tools that are out there. You should only need to know the basics such as creating pages, linking pages, manipulating text, and adding pictures. Don't get to caught up in a pretty design, some times simplicity is a good thing.

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