WebQuests are lessons designed to guide the learner through the process of researching and answering questions about a specific topic. One way we can encourage students to use technology for educational purposes is by designing a task that involves searching for information.
This sounds like a good idea but it provides very little structure. Students are likely to get overwhelmed or sidetracked with the infinite amount of information that is available to them on the Web. Also, not all information on the Web is credible or suitable for kids. Developed by Bernie Dodge at San Diego State University, WebQuests are useful because they provide control over where and how their students use the Web.
Another type of lesson design that can inform WebQuests is problem-based learning (PBL). PBL lessons give students an authentic or real-life problem to investigate. Often the students take on roles of stakeholders (such as doctors, environmental activists, city council members, and so on) and present evidence and a solution to the problem from the viewpoint of their role. You can use a WebQuest to organize the resources you have checked and organized to make sure the students have guidance and structure in their investigation and research.
Other educators have created WebQuests and made them available. That’s a great shortcut for getting started with WebQuests.
Use the Introduction section of a WebQuest to present the learner with the challenge. Your goal is to present the learner with a quest for information leading to research on the Web and other resources to find the information. Think about what you want the students to make as a product of learning when they finish the research. Role playing and working within a real-world scenario can be very motivating for students. Decide if you want them to write a report or presentation, make a poster, perform a creative presentation such as a news cast, or other authentic assessment product. You also can decide if you want individual work or set the WebQuest up so that team collaboration is necessary. Choose how you want the students to communicate the new understanding formed while on their quest.
You, as the educator, can list the resources (Web pages, books, articles, expert interviews) that you want your students to access in order to accomplish their task and complete the quest.
The WebQuest will also have a Task, Evaluation, Process with resources, Conclusion, and Credits and references. You may want to create a Web page, or give to the students as a PowerPoint, Word page, Google Doc, or Evernote.
Rubrics for evaluating WebQuests
Rubrics are useful tools for evaluating materials such as Web pages. You can use a rubric to evaluate your own Web site or use it to evaluate your students’ projects. In good rubrics, the quality of work that is being evaluated is presented in positive terms such as developing or accomplished rather than in more judging terms such as poor, satisfactory, and excellent.
Copyright law and fair use provision
Educators are allowed more freedoms regarding the use of copyrighted material for educational purposes. Students are allowed even more leeway. Copyright has been protected under US law since 1790. Under the Fair Use provision of the law, educators and their students are allowed a broader use of copyrighted works for academic purposes. It’s important to review the guidelines on how materials may be used and for what time period they may be used without permission. If the information you wish to use is for a longer period of time or is greater in length, you need to request permission.
Educators can model good citizenship and ethical behavior for students by adhering to the law. Making learning interactive by encouraging students to seek out new sources of information is a wonderful thing, but equally important is to teach them how to cite the source of the information. Many schools use the Modern Language Association style. Students can learn how to write the citations or generate with an online citation builder.
If you wish to use copyrighted material for educational purposes in a manner that is not exempt under fair use, then you need to request permission to use the material. You will need the URL of the Web page and an email address for each web site.
Graphic or Sound Clip
Dear ______________(Webmaster or name),
We are students at _______ School. We are creating (an educational Web page; research project, multimedia presentation, etc.), and we would like to include the following image(s); sound(s) from (your web site; publication, etc.). The file name(s) of the graphic(s) we wish to use is: _____.JPG located at: http://__________ . Your graphic(s); sound(s) will be displayed in our project as a resource for students and teachers. Our final product will be on our school web site located at http://________ (or presented at ____). We intend to honor your copyright by giving your organization full credit and citing you as one of our sources.
Please respond to this message and let us know if we may use this image in our project. Our deadline for publication is ________, and we would appreciate your quick response.
_______________ Name, e-mail address
Disclaimer: I do not have legal expertise, so be sure to check forms with your legal counsel. All information provided on this site is for entertainment and education purposes only. Using any information from thecasabouquet.com is at your own risk.
Resource links for WebQuests
- WebQuest.org from Dr. Bernie Dodge, San Diego State University
- WebQuest design process
- WebQuests from WNET’s Concept to Classroom
- Rubric for evaluating WebQuests
- Project-based learning from Edutopia
- Rubric Builder from David Warlick’s Landmark Project
- Rubrics from Teachnology
- Rubistar rubric generator from University of Kansas
- 4 Web Tools for presentations
- Go Animate has a fee-based plan for educators for making animated videos
- Citation Machine
- Fair use from the Edublogger
- Fair use FAQ from Teaching Copyright
Let’s talk story
A middle school teacher in the Raleigh area attended one of our workshops and told us about a Website her students were building for a class project. She directed her students to write for permission to use graphics and to link to sites. Her students got very excited and motivated once people started emailing back giving permission. Most everyone that had been contacted for permission was happy to help. In fact, some of the folks asked the students to please email them when they finished their projects so they could see all of their efforts. This experience is an excellent example of how children benefit from community interest in the educational process.
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What are your thoughts?