Whatever happened to …

… Webquests?

If you follow any of the Google events lately, you’ll see that there is a huge following for the “latest” thing in lessons – Hyperdocs.  I even saw a video of a person going ga-ga over it.

The advertising indicate that a Hyperdoc is:

  • more than a worksheet, although some examples seem to be worksheets done electronically
  • great for providing a lesson for a supply teacher
  • Google-y – since it’s a Google Doc.

In reality, there’s nothing that requires that it be completed in a Google Doc.  It could be a regular word processing document with links embedded or a Microsoft Word Online or OneNote document.  It could be created with anything that contains links.  It could even be a webpage!  What a concept!

But, long before this there was a strong pedagogy concern about the use of the internet in the classroom.  Research from Tom March and Bernie Dodge developed the concept of the Webquest.

I was inspired to get involved with the notion and pedagogy behind Webquests with this quote from Jamie McKenzie.

“just as no one develops stamina by watching others run up and down a basketball court, students will not learn to think for themselves by cutting and pasting the thinking of others”

It’s not a new concept.  It been around since 1995 and the concern was that students would spend all kinds of time on the Internet looking for things rather than actually constructing and working on worthwhile projects.

A Webquest has six parts to it:

  • Introduction
  • Task
  • Information Sources
  • Process
  • Guidance
  • Conclusion

As you can see, it is far more than just a collection of media on a topic.  There was a very specific project that students or groups of students worked to create.

I created a few Webquests of my own:

  • Choices into Action Webquest
  • Anti-bullying Proposal Webquest

My colleagues in my former school district liked the concept as well and we had a fairly substantial collection that was taken down after I left the district.  (I still have copies if any of the original authors are interested)

We also collected appropriate Webquests from all over the internet and tied them to expectations from the Ontario Curriculum.  They were stored and shared in a Filemaker Pro database and I wrote a Webquest Locator in Access (771 at the time of this capture) and served it up on the web by division and subject area.

The Design Process was crucial.  The projects were non-trivial and typically required a number of classes to complete.  The process was designed not so that the students could “find” the information but that they could actually “use” it.  Here’s what They really are.

Webquests are still searchable through QuestGarden.

So, for a Sunday morning, it’s over to you.

  • Have you ever used Webquests in your classroom?
  • Have you ever created a Webquest?
  • Is the pedagogy behind a Webquest design and activity still relevant?
  • Is there a time and place to use a Webquest along with other activities in a world of Fake News?

As always, your thoughts via comment are always appreciated.

This whole Sunday series of “Whatever happened to …” is available here.  How about taking a walk along memory lane with me?

Got an idea, share it on this padlet.

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