Applying Technology Effectively in Teaching

A WebQuest to Learn About WebQuests

Welcome to this WebQuest independent learning experience.

The navigation bar below provides a means of moving about easily within this WebQuest. 
Just click on a blue hyperlink to go to the start of the named section. 
(While these sections are typical of WebQuests, they are not the only possibilities.)

Introduction | IL Learning Standards | Task | Resources | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion



The World Wide Web has a massive amount of information, but the quality varies from fantastic to completely unacceptable, even totally false.  Web users often waste large amounts of time “surfing meaning just trying to find something useful.  By creating a WebQuest for your students to use, you will guide them to learn from the best sites for the information they need – sites pre-selected by you, their teacher.  After all, who else understands their needs so well?


In this Introduction to WebQuests you will learn:

what a WebQuest is
what one contains
, and
why you should include WebQuests in your own instruction.

What is a WebQuest?


A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented activity in which most or all of the information used by learners is on the Web.


WebQuests are designed to

Use learners' time well
Focus on using information rather than looking for it, and
Support learners' higher order thinking at the levels of analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

The WebQuest model was developed in early 1995 at San Diego State University by Bernie Dodge with Tom March, and was outlined in the essay "Some Thoughts About Webquests." (You'll have a chance to read their essay later in this WebQuest.)

What does a WebQuest contain?


WebQuests are carefully designed to make the best use of a learner's time.  There is questionable educational benefit in allowing learners to surf the net without a clear task in mind and armed only with search tools to locate useful information.  Furthermore, in many schools learners’ online time is quite limited, making random surfing very inefficient.  To achieve efficiency and to maintain focus on the task at hand, WebQuests typically contain the following parts:

  • An introduction that sets the stage and provides background information on the task.
  • task that is do-able and interesting, both key elements of Engaged Learning.
  • A set of resources (information sources) needed to complete the task. Many (though not necessarily all) of the resources are embedded in the WebQuest document itself as links pointing to information on the World Wide Web. Information sources may include web documents, experts available via e-mail or real-time conferencing, searchable databases on the net, as well as books and other documents physically available in the learner's setting. Because links to specific resources are provided, the learner is not left to wander through web space completely adrift.
  • A description of the process the learners should go through to accomplish the task. The process should be broken out into clearly described steps. A typical WebQuest contains three activities as the process, but the content of the lesson should determine how many are needed, more or fewer.
  • An evaluation section that summarizes the assignments that the learners will be required to complete in the WebQuest. These activities provide guidance on how to organize the information acquired; they are the means by which the learners' work will be evaluated.
  • conclusion that brings closure to the Quest, reminds the learners of what they've achieved, and perhaps encourages them to extend the experience into other domains. 

Of course, you can (and should) also address the issue of links to state and district standards.  Our own Illinois standards are coming up shortly.

Why Webquests?


Why are WebQuests something you should consider including in your instruction?

Here are some important reasons:

1.      WebQuest activities support the higher learning levels of Bloom's Taxonomy.

2.      WebQuests can address a wide range of State and District Learning Standards.

3.      WebQuests always use technology, which most districts & even the ISBE now emphasize.

4.      WebQuest activities can be multidisciplinary and also can address multiple intelligences.

5.      Students become more deeply engaged in their learning while doing a WebQuest.

6.      Students' time on the Web is structured for efficiency and effectiveness.


As you become familiar with WebQuests, you'll be able to add to this list of benefits yourself.

Introduction | IL Learning Standards | Task | Resources | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion 

Illinois Learning Standards 

The following English / Language Arts standards are directly applicable to use of WebQuests.  Within other content areas, you will also find applicable standards. You can learn all about the standards from the Illinois State Board of Education web site.  The point here is that alignment with standards is receiving increased attention and emphasis, so it is appropriate to take this into account in planning any learning activity, including a WebQuest!



Produce, edit, revise and format work for submission and/or publication (e.g., manuscript form, appropriate citation of sources) using contemporary technology.


Using available technology, produce compositions and multimedia works for specified audiences.


Using contemporary technology, create a research presentation or prepare a documentary related to academic, technical or occupational topics and present the findings in oral or multimedia formats.

Introduction | IL Learning Standards | Task | Resources | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion 


Your initial task is to learn about the nature of WebQuests and their relationship to Engaged Learning. You will look at various WebQuests at different levels of complexity, and learn to evaluate web sites for use in your own WebQuests.  Later, you will learn how to create your own WebQuest.

HOT TIP.  Often you will be branching out of this lesson to other web sites from which you will need to return to this WebQuest. However, when you link to sites outside of this lesson, you won't necessarily have a quick direct link back to your starting location; you may have to click the Back arrow many times. 
A better way is to let your browser's "History" help you get back more easily.  First, you may want to clear any existing History entries to make it easier to navigate.  Right now (you won't lose anything in this lesson), click Tools in the Internet Explorer menu bar at the top of your screen, then Internet Options. On the General tab, near the bottom, click Clear History, and then click OK. Next, click the History Button (looks something like a sun dial with a green arrow, probably just to the right of Favorites & Media) in the button bar at the top of your screen. At the top of the history column that opens on your left, click View, then select By Order Visited Today (try the other options as well). It should be empty now, but your most recent sites will then appear at the top of the list as you move around the web in this session. You can use this tip with any web exploration.
The Mozilla history is found in the Go menu.
(Always close the History column using the X at the top of it to give yourself the full screen area to work in except when navigating.)

If you need assistance with navigating or, specifically, using History to move about, please ask.

Introduction | IL Learning Standards | Task | Resources | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion 


The following are among many resources that may be useful during this lesson. You may refer to them easily from this central location at any time, and will also encounter links to them at various points in the lesson. Most follow the general pattern for a WebQuest given above, but some are different.
You may explore these sites at any time by following the navigation links to the Resources area. In just a bit, you will encounter these sites again within the lesson.

Introduction | IL Learning Standards | Task | Resources | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion 


The Process section has the primary learning materials for any WebQuest. You are now ready to learn more about WebQuests, engaged learning, and web site evaluation, which you will do as you complete Activities 1 – 3. You may want to jot down key ideas for use later. Activity 4 will help you to begin planning your own WebQuest.


Before you begin, choose one or three partners to work with during the group activities included in this lesson.  The group activities will require either two or four people.  A group of four can become two groups of two for the activities that call specifically for partner pairs.

Activity 1 | Activity 2 | Activity 3 | Activity 4

Activity 1 -- Why Webquests?

Changes occurring in the workplace require more creative thinking, decision-making, collaboration, and self-management than ever before. Because of this, along with research in cognitive psychology, the focus of education today is on providing more "engaged learning" in the classroom. In this activity, you will first review the fundamental concepts of engaged learning. Then you will explore connections between engaged learning and WebQuests.


To help you think about your own previous experiences, complete the following Engaged & Worthwhile Learning Activity.  You may want to take notes as you work through the activity.

To learn more about Engaged Learning, read the following rather lengthy essay
[The final page is p. 15!  Think about whether this is the type of resource that should be used online or whether an alternative format would be better.]

The next two online resources contain charts that will help you understand more about the different Engaged Learning techniques.  Read through each one before going on; the first may be difficult to read (a lesson in poor materials preparation for the web.) Both are contained in the next handout as well.

Indicators of Engaged Learning

Engaged Learning Actions

When you are ready to explore the resource at the next link, form a team of four, with each team member taking responsibility for one of the four Engaged Learning Actions (print and use this handout).  Make note of relationships between WebQuests and Engaged Learning, using the guiding questions for your specific Learning Action. When you have finished working through the resource, discuss and compare your responses to the guiding questions in the handout as a team. 
(Note - the material in this resource is dated in terms of references and especially the examples.  However, the fundamental concepts remain valid.)

Some Thoughts About WebQuests

As you examine the final resource for Activity 1, look particularly at the explanation of each of the parts of a WebQuest, and why each one is important.  Take notes about what you learn to assist you later when you begin to develop your own WebQuest or plan a WebQuest creation activity for your students.  Discuss your understanding of the structure of a WebQuest with a partner or your whole team.

Building Blocks of a WebQuest

When you are finished with this activity, take a break, walk around, stretch, get a snack.  Then continue with Activity 2 to explore a wide range of sample WebQuests.

Activity 1 | Activity 2 | Activity 3 | Activity 4

Activity 2 – Sample WebQuests

Now you are ready to explore some sample WebQuests.  Often, the best way to get started with something new is to spend some time looking at what others have already done.  The next activity is a WebQuest about WebQuests and involves your team of four again.  Select the most appropriate version of the activity for your teaching level or interest.  All the directions are contained within the activity.  If you like, print the “Worksheets for Activity 2”, which duplicate some things you will find in the activity you select.  Otherwise, you can complete the worksheets interactively online, then "save" them to your own computer as a portfolio artifact.  The steps for "resaving" an interactive Acrobat file are: File > Print > (choose Win2DPF as the printer) > OK. Ask for help whenever you need it.

Elementary Version

Grades 3-4

Middle School Version

Middle/High School Version

There are many further sample WebQuests for you to explore.  We have organized the list into three categories: Basic, Intermediate, & Complex.  Your goal is to explore several of the examples from each level of complexity.  As you will see, WebQuests do not have to be complex to be effective!

First, select one partner with whom to work on this task.  Each of you should select at least two different WebQuests from the basic category.  As you work through each WebQuest individually, reflect on the following questions (also printed in the Activity 2 handouts):

  • In what ways does this lesson promote worthwhile and meaningful learning?
  • How will we know that the intended learning has occurred?
  • In what ways does the lesson promote engaged learning?
  • How does technology enhance and extend the lesson in ways that would not be possible without it?

When you have both finished your basic WebQuests, discuss with your partner your insights into the questions above.  Then explore the Intermediate and Complex examples in the same manner.


Personal Budget WebQuest

Acid Rain WebQuest

African-American Inventors

When Will I Ever Use This?


Robots: New Age Assistants

Attack on Hiroshima


Who Needs a Fairy Godmother, anyway?


Ancient Egypt WebQuest

A Cell is a Small City

When I Grow Up


Now you should be ready to begin looking for great websites to use in your own WebQuests.
Take a short break, and then go on to Activity 3.

Activity 1 | Activity 2 | Activity 3 | Activity 4

Activity 3 — Great WebQuests

The quality of information on the Web is very uneven, in part because anyone can post anything without review by anyone else.  This leads to web content that is highly inappropriate for young people as well as content that is inaccurate, misleading, or simply false.  Many schools severely restrict student access to the Web because of concerns over content.  Teacher-selected web sites, the heart of a WebQuest, should avoid the issue and enable students to benefit from the valuable resources available.


In this activity, you will begin by looking at criteria for evaluating a website.  Study the criteria given in the two sources below, and then discuss them with a partner.  Which do you think are most important?

Ten "C’s" for Evaluating Internet Sources

Checklist for Evaluating Web Resources

Think about the criteria listed in the sources above, and then explore the following WebQuest that teaches students how to evaluate websites.  Work through the WebQuest first, then use the "Evaluating Web Sites Chart" to evaluate some of the sample websites listed, using the criteria from the two sources above.  The chart and additional information are in the handout “Activity 3” for you to print.

A WebQuest about Evaluating Web Sites

Finally, here is some of Bernie Dodge’s more recent thinking about creating outstanding learning opportunities through WebQuests.

Five Rules for Great WebQuests

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:  In addition to your own reflection on how to evaluate the web sites you want to direct your students to, what about the needs of your students to evaluate sites they find on their own?  How will they learn this vital new skill?  Whose responsibility is it?

When you are finished with Activity 3, you are ready to begin planning your own WebQuest!

Activity 1 | Activity 2 | Activity 3 | Activity 4

Activity 4 — Your Own WebQuest

Activity 4 begins with some specific help on getting started with your own WebQuest, including templates that you can download and use.  Then it offers you links to many excellent web sites about rubrics for project assessment.  Next come links to some indispensable tools for identifying your own WebQuest resources.


Getting Started


Now you are ready to begin to plan your own WebQuest.  Let's start with Bernie Dodge's own instructions for getting started.  This is a PowerPoint slide set through which you can navigate using the arrows at the bottom or the slide titles on the left.


This might also be a good time to download a template that you will be able to modify to create your own WebQuest. It is available in both HTML format ( if you know how to work with HTML using an editor) and in Word format (for any Word user), but the latter is not recommended. To download either version, right-click on the link below, then choose Save Target As . . .)

WQ Template (HTML) (for those who know HTML editing)

WQ Template (Word) (decidely second choice — ask for help if you must use this approach)



As you create your WebQuest, you will need rubrics.  Visit these great rubric sites for ideas and examples:

SRI International Performance Assessment Links in Science

This is an excellent site filled with science performance tasks and rubrics for assessment. Many tasks have actual student samples to gauge your assessment of your own students.  Choose your grade level from the small-type Task list near PALS at the top of the screen.  Then select a specific task and you’ll find lots of information, including rubrics.

About Education

When you reach this site, enter RUBRICS in the search box and then click the Go button.  You'll be taken to an amazing collection of links. Ignore the advertising and don’t click on the OK button that claims you have a message waiting.  It’s just more advertising.


Bernie Dodge's rubric suggestions


Rubrics for Web Lessons (also from the Dodge web site)

Math Lesson Plans and Resources

This great math site includes links to math-related rubrics, including problem-solving rubrics, data rubrics, and number story rubrics.  You will also find links for building rubrics and evaluating rubrics for use in your classroom.  The advertising is annoying, but the content is worth it.  Click on Rubrics to get to those specific resources

The Staff Room for Ontario’s Teachers

Ontario teachers developed this incredible site. You will find sample rubrics in such categories as: research skills, music, writing, group work, theatre, visual arts, guidance and careers, French, technology, and multimedia.


Tools for Locating Web Resources


As you search for websites to use in your WebQuest, here’s a great place to begin:

Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators

Each subject area contains links to dozens of highly recommended educational websites.

When you are ready to search the web, try several different search engines.  Results will vary.


What more is there to say?  Google is the current king of the search tools.  Google has even become a verb, as in Have you googled today? 


A newer, worthy competitor for Google.  Try the same search in both Google and All The Web to see the differences.




Another new one that is worth a look.  Gets right to the point.


This meta-search engine is a great place to start your search; it searches multiple search engines at the same time, and gives you the best results.


Hotsheet has links to everything under the sun, arranged by categories


Dogpile is another great meta-search engine


AltaVista is one of the best search engines; a great place to look for pictures and for websites in different languages.


Northern Light is another good choice for surfing the web; very thorough searches.



Why this one is popular with teachers is not clear, but hey.

Don't forget to evaluate carefully each site you consider using the guidelines from Activity 3.

Activity 1 | Activity 2 | Activity 3 | Activity 4

IntroductionIL Learning StandardsTaskResourcesProcessEvaluation | Conclusion


In this WebQuest you have:


  • learned the background and nature of WebQuests 
  • explored the typical structure of a WebQuest 
  • reviewed WebQuests of varying levels of complexity 
  • reflected on the need to evaluate web sites before students use them 
  • discussed criteria for evaluating web sites 
  • prepared yourself to begin to develop WebQuests

You have been self-evaluating your work as you progressed through this lesson.  Self-evaluation skills are vital to everyone’s development as an independent, life-long learner.

Your Assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to develop a WebQuest for your own students.


You should be well on your way to being ready to develop a WebQuest of your own to enhance your students’ learning.  When you complete development of your own WebQuest, please share it with the group so that all may see and benefit from your efforts.  We can help with web server space, if you need it.

Remember the lesson from your exploration of sites of varying complexity.  Complexity alone is no guarantee of a better learning experience.  Well-done basic and intermediate sites can be very effective, too.  It's the quality of the experience you create based on the resources you identify and include that matters most.

You may now work on your own WebQuest for the rest of the workshop session.  Use the WebQuest template that you downloaded previously.

If you didn’t previously download a template, you can do so now.

WQ Template (HTML) (for those who know HTML editing)

WQ Template (Word) (if you must, ask)

Webquest Evaluation Rubric — check your work

Let us know if you need any assistance!

Introduction | IL Learning Standards | Task | Resources | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion 


WebQuests are a powerful tool for guiding learners to get the most out of the vast resources of the World Wide Web. By carefully planning the activities of a WebQuest and matching to them the best resources you can identify, you will have created a learning experience that is relevant, authentic, and highly engaging. Your students will appreciate your efforts as they extend their learning in ways not previously possible, thanks to the power of today's technology.

Introduction | IL Learning Standards | Task | Resources | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion 

This WebQuest was created by Jim Lockard and Alicia Tippins.

Northern Illinois University, Department of Educational Technology, Research & Assessment

College of Education
© 2002-2004
Last updated 02/28/04
Problems?Contact Jim Lockard