Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Webquests vs Websheets

Webquests seem to be a popular activity for teachers to use in their classrooms.  I have no problem with webquests when used and created as they were originally intended.  However the traditional webquest has been skewed into something that it shouldn't be, a websheet.

A webquest, in it's intended sense, is to divided into several parts.  First the student should be presented with some sort of real world scenario/problem.  The student(s) is then given some sort of role in which they need to solve that problem.  The webquest (especially for students first learning how to navigate the web) then will then provide a listing of resources for students to look at to gain background, current research, and general information about the task at hand.  This can help model for the student what quality web sources look like.  After the student wonders through the information the students then tackle the given task, and CREATE something.  They need to use upper levels of their brain and synthesize and evaluate the information.   They need to come up with a solution to the problem by creating the actual product.

I have been disappointed with the number of webquests that I have found/seen/heard about that are turned into glorified worksheets, or as I call them "websheets" (not to be confused with Oricle Databases websheets).  It is absurd that we continue to have students lookup, record, lookup, record, lookup, record.... and depend on Bloom's lowest level of taxonomy.  Having a student look up information on a website and transfer information to a piece of paper is NOT a webquest, and does not deserve to be called that.  Call it what it is a boring worksheet, that uses the internet as the source of information instead of a textbook.

Check out the webquest created by Duncan Morrissey Lisa Tattoli at SDSU called Modern Museum of Romanticism.  It challenges students to look at Romantic Art and then create a museum exhibit.

Teachers, please be careful when browsing through webquests.  Make sure that the webquest is of quality design and not just a last ditch effort at lesson planning.  Webquest authors, please continue to create quality webquests that are fun, exciting, and challenge students to think.

1 comment:

Rob Jacklin said...

Amen! I know our teachers often misuse the term. Most of the time the activities they are doing are no more than "treasure hunts."

I've always thought that Webquest were centered around solving problems and creating products which involve collaboration and cooperation. If students are done with the quest and they all hand in the same finished product, it probably wasn't a Webquest :-)

I really appreciate the work done by Bernie Dodge and others at San Diego State University with regards to encouraging the creation of true inquiry-based Webquests.

This is something I'd like to revisit again. Thanks for bringing it back into focus for me.