Bernie Dodge, a professor of educational technology at San Diego University, offers Education World seven tips for teachers who want to design WebQuests. Dodge developed the first WebQuest model, an Internet teaching tool.
Familiarize yourself and your students with the WebQuest format. The best way of doing that is to try someone else's WebQuest with your class. You can find a matrix of ready-made examples at Matrix of Example WebQuests. You can also find a less selective list of WebQuests at WebQuest Collections.
Become familiar with a Web editing tool. Any free or commercial software-editing tool will do. WebQuests have been created with the free Composer software included in Netscape Communicator or with commercial programs. We usually recommend FileMaker Home Page or Adobe PageMill to beginners. Later you can use a more advanced editor, such as Adobe GoLive or Macromedia Dreamweaver. You don't need anything fancy to put a WebQuest together.
Become a facile Web searcher. In a WebQuest, you do the work of finding a focused set of good sites for your students rather than having them forage the Web on their own. Searching the Web takes time, so it's wise to develop your searching skills. Two pages that many people have found useful are Seven Steps Toward Better Searching and the Specialized Search Engines and Directories.
Focus on higher-level thinking. Identify a topic you teach that invites creativity, forces analysis or synthesis, or in some other way requires students to transform information into some new form. Don't use the WebQuest format to pursue questions that have only one right answer, such as finding the official birds of each state or finding the volume of each of the pyramids.
Check the Web for resources to support your topic. A few years ago, the Web was primarily about computing. Now every topic under the sun can be found if you dig deeply enough. You may find an amazing site that will inspire you to teach the topic in a whole new way. If, for whatever reason, you can't find enough appropriate information, jump back to step 4 and think up a different topic.
Identify a task that your students can perform. Be sure it is something that will engage them in the information. Try to go beyond having them simply read Web pages and then report on them with a PowerPoint presentation. Instead, give them a scaled-down version of something that adults do on the job. The A Taxonomy of WebQuest Tasks will give you some ideas.
Download a WebQuest template. Use a WebQuest template for the WebQuest you will develop and start hacking away. There's a whole page of variations on the format at WebQuest Templates.
Following these steps should help teachers create the WebQuests of their dreams! Dodge suggested that teachers who would rather work with some guidance attend workshops or courses offered at nearby colleges of education or district offices. He said there are plenty of choices.
Teachers can learn how to develop WebQuests though an online graduate course offered by the Teacher Education Institute.
ALSO SEE: An Education World e-interview with Bernie Dodge!
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