Web quests have grown in popularity in the past years. They are excellent tools for all learners, offering easy differentiated instruction options.
A WebQuest is not a scavenger hunt on the Internet with students randomly searching websites. The process is an inquiry-oriented activity where the majority or all of the information comes from websites pre-selected by the webquest designer. The quests encourage learners to use critical thinking skills and to analyze information with question. By focusing the students on the selected material their energy is spent analyzing and answering the questions rather than hoping the find a page with the correct information.
The WebQuest model was developed in 1995 at San Diego State University by Bernie Dodge with Tom March. An excellent overview of webquests by Bernie Dodge in his musings, Some Thoughts About WebQuests. Especially helpful are his distinctions between shortterm and longterm webquests.
Webquests are especially helpful for teachers who need to integrate technology into their curricula, but aren't sure how to go about it. By using webquests as a center activity, students have an opportunity utilize technology in meaninful ways. You do not need a computer lab. The webquest is perfect for the one computer classroom. Instead of playing the Oregon Trail game on a computer students complete an Oregon Trail Webquest. This is a much more meaningful and educational activity than hunting bear with a computer mouse.
Fortunately you do not have to reinvent the wheel. Thousands of webquests are available from various sources. You do need to be able to distinguish a good webquest from a bad one. A good webquest has five main components:
Before diving into a webquest visit The WebQuests Training Materials section at San Diego State University's web site. They have articles, examples, and other resources that will help you get started in your journey to create a WebQuest. There is even a Webquest Lesson Template to help you through the creation process.
Once you feel like you have a good understanding of the WebQuest model, check out some of these web sites to view example WebQuests and WebQuest lesson plans.