Webquest 101

Characteristics of a good webquest

So what makes a webquest a success? First and foremost, a well-designed webquest puts content in context. It lets students learn about a topic as part of a larger framework. In some cases, a webquest can also let students explore a topic as part of an interdisciplinary unit. For an example, take a look at “All Men are Created…. Equal?” - an interdisciplinary webquest for middle school language arts and social studies. The webquest concludes with a short paper or poem portraying chosen historical figures. If you want to see additional webquests at various grade levels, check out the Examples from Questgarden. Here you can search by grade and/or subject. 

In Addition...

  • Most webquests also have a "hook." This can be a treasure hunt, a game, or some other activity that is embedded in your quest. The simplest "hook" is the collection of facts and information from the various sites that make up the quest. The student or team with the most information then becomes the winner. These "hooks" can be more elaborate, and since they are an important motivating factor, you should use your imagination in creating incentives for your own students.
  • Good webquests also rely on material that is age and ability appropriate. The web contains everything from nursery rhymes to postdoctoral papers, and finding information that is written and presented at a level that will appeal to your students can be one of the most challenging aspects of creating a webquest. The web’s wealth of information also makes webquests a great way to provide lessons that can be experienced at multiple levels. Your links can include a few resources for high-ability students, as well as some for students with limited abilities. By grouping these, a webquest can be a challenge for students of several ability levels. For example, this webquest for elementary students tasked with choosing a class pet (and learning about different animals and habitats) includes different roles and different links at various reading levels. Notice that the budget keeper needs to do far less reading but still contributes to the team.
  • Webquests can be collaborative. Students can work individually or in teams, depending on classroom circumstances and your preference.
  • A good webquest is also highly visual. The web is a visual medium, and your presentation will be far stronger if it includes sites with lots of pictures, maps, animations, or even sounds. These are teaching tools that keep students’ interest.
  • Good webquests are easy to use. Students should be able to move easily from one location to the next without a lot of tedious mouse-work. This is one reason that a webquest which is itself a web page can be attractive.
  • Even the best webquest won’t help much if it doesn’t relate to the rest of your class materials. The more closely your webquest ties into the rest of your in-class content, the more powerful it will be in helping your students learn the topic – regardless of how and where it is presented.
  • Finally, a well-designed webquest contains some sort of built-in evaluation mechanism. This frequently relates to the hook or task that students must complete as part of the quest, but it may also include other tasks or assignments.