Educational webquests involve students spending time on the web, seeking answers to one or more pre-set questions. Webquests were first conceived in the days of web 1.0 as a way of adding a guided discovery or problem-solving aspect to information retrieval tasks, and thus wrapping a more pedagogically contemporary approach around the informational web.
Webquests offer a way to make use of the vast array of reference materials contained in the web 1.0 layer of the internet. They can help to develop student autonomy (as students work independently) as well as digital literacies including information literacy (as students learn to evaluate the information they find) and multimodal literacy (since students are often dealing with multimedia documents involving some combination of text, still images, audio and video). Such webquests can also be used to foster collaboration if students are asked to work in pairs or groups.
The simplest and least demanding webquests require students to collect a series of facts. At the other end of the continuum, sophisticated webquests may involve problem-based or inquiry-based learning, where students are set a real-world problem or question and must analyse, evaluate and synthesise the different types of information they locate. These latter webquests signal a move in a constructivist direction.
In recent years, thanks to the rise of web 2.0 learning, and the associated move towards students creating their own multimodal artefacts on the basis of their independent web research, there has been a shift away from the use of webquests.
For further information and examples of webquests, and to create your own – or to have students create webquests for each other, an activity with more constructivist potential – you might like to check out WebQuest.Org (see image above) or Zunal.
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