WebQuests are inquiry-orientated lesson formats over the Internet, which utilise interactive, contemporary, in context resources which contain varying points of view (Dodge, 2007). Learners are able to work in partnership within WebQuests very effectively. The WebQuest must be an authentic task to; "motivate learners' investigation of an open-ended question" (March, 2004). Open-ended questions are designed to active prior knowledge, resulting in arousal and eagerness to discover the answer. The learning manager can develop this open-ended question further through; "posing contradictions, presenting new information, asking questions, encouraging research, and engaging learners in inquiries designed to challenge current concept" (Brooks & Brooks, 1999; 4). In order for learners to use their critical thinking skills, problem-solving activities need to be incorporated to develop new concepts, so that knowledge is successfully learnt and retained (Bransford, 1985). This creates better opportunities for learning as learners aren't simply reciting facts that they have memorised nor using their prior knowledge. This can be done through a number of ways. Learners could research a global topic but could then apply this new knowledge to a local context. Another way is for learners; "to use their assigned perspectives to predict near-future outcomes of current events" (March, 2004). Alternatively, learners could be given a situation which they would choose the best option to argue for. Therefore WebQuests are a great technological tool to engage learners.
The Learning Engagement Theory is comprised of three components: 'Relate', 'Create' and 'Donate'. Kearsley and Shneiderman (1999) explain that these components explain that learning experiences should; "occur in a group context... are project-based... have an authentic focus" respectively. As evidenced above, WebQuests usually contain collaborative learning. Learners are able to work together. A major point of Webquests is that they are project-based and do have an authentic focus. Therefore, WebQuests are a perfect example for a model which fits the Learning Engagement Theory exactly. The WebQuests created by Aldred and March are wonderful tools. They are both engaging, have an open-ended question, contain wonderful resources and are authentic!
WebQuests are wonderful tools when they are created correctly. Though learning managers would need to spend a lot of time creating a WebQuest, the WebQuest would be multi-disciplinary and would fit in with other KLAs. Additionally, once a fantastic WebQuest is created, it can be re-used in other classes. The only difficulty in creating a WebQuest and using it in learning experiences, would be the availability of computers. If learners only had access to a computer lab once a week, it would make the process very difficult.
Bransford, J. (1985). Schema activation and schema acquisition. In H. Singer & R. B. Ruddell (Eds.), Theoretical models and processes of reading, 3rd ed. Newark, DE: International Reading Association, 385-397.
Brooks, J. G., & Brooks, M. G. (1999). In search of understanding: The case for constructivist classrooms (rev. ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Dodge, B. (2007). WebQuest. Retrieved August 15, 2009, from http://webquest.org/index.php
Kearsley, G. & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Retrieved August 15, 2009, from http://home.sprynet.com/%7Egkearsley/engage.htm
March, T. (2004). The Learning Power of WebQuests. Retrieved August 15, 2009, from http://tommarch.com/writings/wq_power.php