I must admit, when I read that ‘Webquests’ were one of the technological tools that had to be examined as part of this course, I cringed. My previous experiences with webquests have led me to believe that this technology has limiting and restrictive effects on learning.

As part of a SOSE course at University I had to work in a small group to construct a webquest. We constructed a webquest that focused on water conservation. The webquest was aimed at Year 3 students. According to one of the developers of Webquests, Bernie Dodge, a web quest is an inquiry-based activity which allows learners to interact with information on the internet. According to Dodge (1997) a quality webquest must contain the following:

  1. Introduction
  2. Focus Question
  3. Task
  4. Process
  5. Resources
  6. Evaluation
  7. Conclusion
  8. Teachers page

My group used this framework to develop our water conservation Webquest. While we met the criteria for the assessment task, I was left feeling very unsatisfied with Webquests and felt that I would not use them in the classroom.

Abit and Ophus (2008) note that research suggests that there is little or no direct impact or advantage for increasing student achievement with webquests. While creating the Webquest at university I felt that this form of technology was a very uncreative and restricting means of teaching. It seemed that Webquests were designed for teachers to simply sit students in front of the computer and participate in very small amounts of actual ‘face-to-face’ teaching time.

Kearsly and Schneiderman suggest that learning needs to be “self-directed” (1999). Rather than being ‘self-directed’ learning, Webquests seemed to take students through links and activities that the teacher had chosen in which the students had little or no input.

Perhaps I had been approaching the Webquest using a narrow mindset. If I had researched Webquests thoroughly, perhaps I may have found effective, high quality Webquests on the internet which could facilitate engaging and meaningful learning experiences. I found this blog post extremley informative. Finally someone has identified what Webquests should look like. According to Aldred’s blog Webquests should incorporate Problem-Based- Learning and focus on messy, authentic problems to solve. Webquests should also incorporate collaborative learning.

I explored the Webquests that Aldred had linked to on his blog and was amazed. This webquest on human rights is a highly effective and engaging learning tool. I also found this webquest aimed at early childhood students to be an innovative and exciting approach to incorporating technology in the classroom.

These Webquests align with Kearsley and Schneiderman’s Engagement Theory which suggests that effective learning activities are collaborative, project- based and have an authentic focus (1999). These Webquests could also be viewed throught the lense of the Learning Design Framework:

  • Learning tasks- Investigation of an open-ended question
  • Learning resources- links to meaningful and essential resources on the internet
  • Learning supports- scaffolded learning structure

(Oliver, 1999).

While creating a quality Webquest may be a time consuming process, Webquests can facilitate authentic, engaging and meaningful learning experiences. Effective Webquests scaffold learning and link to an authentic tasks to motivate students to participate in collaborative investigations.


Wendy Hargreaves said...


Webquests provide structure for both teacher and student and provides clear goals and clear processes. A good WebQuest will embark on a student-centered exercise,where they get to share their reading, writing, planning collaborating and more importantly their learning.

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