WebQuests provide a rich opportunity for learning that encourages students to extend themselves and engage in higher level learning and problem solving. Bernie Dodge (1995) defined a WebQuest as an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the Internet.
Tens of thousands of teachers have embraced WebQuests as a way to make good use of the internet while engaging their students in the kinds of thinking that the 21st century requires. The use of ICTs are are fundamental learning tool in the 21st century. Siemens (2004) offers an interesting elearning approach with what he calls "Connectivism: a learning theory for the Digital Age".
Siemens believes that :
-Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
-Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
-Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
-Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.
(among other things)
So why would we want to use webquest? The answer is because they are engaging and enhance the learning abilities of students. I recently vistited two webquests created by Scot Aldred and Tom March. The presentation of both is well organised and easy to follow. Follow the links below to check out these webquests.
After seeing these webquests I believe that using webquests is a much more appropiate approach for 21st learners. Using a webquest would mean that students are able to create relate and donate, which acoording to Greg Kearsley & Ben Shneiderman means that the learning occur in a group context (i.e., collaborative teams) are project-based and have an outside (authentic) focus.
A good WebQuest has an authentic context and problem or task. The driving question and its problem task are messy and ill-structured with no single answer or solution. Good WebQuests require small teams of students to relate to the messy, ill-structured problem task, investigate the issues, share what individual team members have learned from their individual research and apply this new knowledge to problem and create an authentic product that can then be donated back into the real world for authentic feedback. (Dodge 2007)
When I was going through the webquests I was thinking "wow, that would take a lot of time and effort for a teacher to create" but I realised that the teachers would only have to create it once and use it again for years to come, updating it each year if need be. I thought that the teacher could incorporate a lot of the cirriculum into webquest but then I thought that the students wouldn't be getting a mixture of learning tools, which is important as students have different learning styles. Therefore it is important for a teacher to get the right balance of curriculum for their students.
During my research I came across a webquest for middle school language arts and social studies. The webquest concludes with both a short paper and a “dinner party” with students portraying chosen figures from the 1920s. http://www.primarysourcelearning.org/teach/lq/013/index.htm
March, Tom (2004) The Learning Power of WebQuests accessed 17/08/09 from http://tommarch.com/writings/wq_power.php
Kearsley, G. & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Retrieved August 17, 2009, from http://homesprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm
Siemens, George (2005) Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age accessed 17/08/09 from