WebQuests are an interesting educational project that intends to combine content areas, technology, and the use of the Internet for a more comprehensive educational experience. To me, WebQuests are the total opposite of the traditional computer lab class, where students are sent without rhyme or reason to look up for some information on the web, to do a "Google search," if you will. But, those of us who have been in a classroom know that the outcome is less than pleasant.
The WebQuest, therefore, is a different option. You will still need to use the Internet for a classroom activity, but you have more control over the content. This is not about censorship, but about quality. There are too many websites for students to choose from and only we, the teachers, can help our students to develop criteria to critically select those websites.
A WebQuest is also about creativity. Your students will use contents they have learned in class for something other than passing a quiz. They need to be more creative and imaginative with those contents in order to learn the tasks.
How easy is it to develop a WebQuest, you wonder? Well, it will take a bit of time to plan the tasks and put together the resources. However, the time spent planning will be well worth it once students are on task. You do not require high technical skills to put it together. The usual format to present a WebQuests is through the internet itself, with a website of your creating. In case you are wondering, there is no real need for you to know HTML (to my former students from 1997 B.C. - m students from U of I and UPB already know this joke -: I am an even better teacher, but I still got no clue of HTML!).
If you plan to build your WebQuest, there are three good options. It all depends on your level of comfort designing stuff online. My suggestion is to explore all of them, see what they offer, and choose accordingly:
Zunal: This is a website where you can craft a WebQuest from scratch. It is a good entry-level site for those who may want to develop a comfort zone. More seasoned website users will benefit from the other two.
Weebly: I know, I know! While it's a bit meta to talk about Weebly in a Weebly-built website, I would be remiss not to mention it. I have found Weebly to be quite intuitive and easy to handle for someone looking for a clean interface. Many teachers might find this one quite useful for a myriad of purposes.
Wix: Now, this will very likely be the one toward which your students will gravitate. The greatest advantage of Wix is the use of Flash animations in its interface. That alone will make it very appealing to your students and the more adventurous teachers.
Sections of a WebQuest
WebQuests usually have six sections. I will share some excerpts from two of our publications which explain the sections in detail:
Selecting Quality Websites: An important factor!
One important element for the success of your WebQuest is the quality of websites you choose. The goal here, as I always point out to my students, is to find the "good stuff" and teach your students how to eliminate websites that are not good (or worse, that can be harmful to them). Please check the following websites for some information about choosing the cream of the crop from the vastness of the 'net:
In January 2011, I started teaching at Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, Medellín. In a course a colleague (Prof. Juan Diego Martínez) and I designed called (at the time) Communicative Competence III (2014 Update: This course was recently overhauled due to some changes in our curriculum and will become as of 2015 Communicative Competence V), we have been implementing WebQuests as our main classroom project. This section will display some key information about creating WebQuests for English Language Learners, as well as samples from our different cohorts.
In our approach to WebQuests, we are integrating the ideas from WebQuests I had used in the United States with a conceptual framework that combines ideas about competencies, socio-constructivism (à la Vygotsky), and second language support. Discussions about schema theory, scaffolding, critical literacy, just to name a few, are important elements of our work. For the new iteration of the course, we will also play with the infusion of multimodality as a key feature of the construction of WebQuests and we will continue reinforcing the use of WebQuests as an introduction to the idea of research design. That is why every WebQuest is preceded by a proposed question that also relates to a competence each student wants to explore.
Over the years, we have published some work on this. Some of it is available on Academia.edu.
And there's more...
Our students are already doing their own presentations to discuss their experiences designing WebQuests. Click HERE and HERE to see two examples.
You can also learn more about our proposal in the video below:
Some Examples from our Students
In the links below, you will find a list of the WebQuests all our students have made in each cohort since 2011. I have also included the students' e-mails in case anyone would like to contact them directly and ask them about their WebQuests.