Friday, August 14, 2009

Quest for a Webquest

WebQuests are the epitome of learning with ICTs as described in both the ICT Learning Design Framework and the Learning Engagment Theory (Oliver, 1999; Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999).
The following describes how this is so -

ICT Learning Design Theory (Oliver, 1999)
  • Learning Task - according to Oliver, the learning tasks needs to be or include a problem, investigation, project or role-play. For a webQuest to be a 'real' WebQuest it must be centred around a central problem or question, which students may take on a role to investigate. The project part is the solution or product the learners come up with based on their research.
  • Learning Resources - basically, these are the resources that support the learner in completing the task Oliver, 1999). The 'web' part in WebQuest means that all the resources needed are web-based. The WebQuest contains links to specific pages for students to go to for finding out and learning new information.
  • Learning Supports - These include the schedule, instructions and procedures for conducting the task, as well as any other support mechanisms the learning manager may put in place for implementation (Oliver, 1999). The instructions and procedures for a WebQuest are always clearly spelled out in their own section of the WebQuest. The Learning Manager may be a source of clarification, however it can be expected that most students can refer to the procedures given in the Quest and complete it successfully.
Learning Engagement Theory / Active Learning
  • Relate - learners relate to each other. That is, the learning occurs in a collaborative context (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999). More often than not, WebQuests call for a group of students to partake in the one challenge. There may be a specified number per group so that each student is allocated a specific role or perspective to research. Learners then come back together, share their expertise, then collaboratively solve the problem.
  • Create - Learning is creative, purposeful and project-based (Kearsley and Shneiderman, 1999). being a 'quest' means that WebQuests are based on an open-ended problem that requires learners to process (rather than just 'knowing' & regurgitating facts) learnt knowledge to develop an entirely new product or solve the problem in a unique way (March, 2003). Even if they are given the same question, it is likely that each group may come up with an entirely different response - each of which can be 'correct'.
  • Donate - Learning has an authentic context that values making useful contributions while learning (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999). One aspect that a webquest should include is the opportunity for real-world feedback from people outside the classroom (March, 2003). Doing this increases the liklihood that learners will be motivated in the task (March, 2003).
There are a number of other perspectives that align with WebQuests, including Constructivism, a Learner-centred approach, and of course Problem Based Learning. However, I am happy to leave you with an overview of the WebQuest. As you can see, the learning benefits are numerous. And, you dont have to create them all from scratch yourself. Check out WebQuest Direct or to search for authentic, ready-made webquests.

Kearsley, G. & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Available from

March, T. (2003). 'The Learning Power of WebQuests' Educational Leadership, Vol. 61, N0.4. Available from

Oliver, R. (1999). Exploring strategies for online teaching and learning. Distance Education, 20(2), 240-254.
Available from


  1. Hi Bethanie,
    As I was reading this posting, it occured to me that the 'Learning Task' phase of Oliver's Learning Design THeory is very similar to the first stage of creating a Transdisciplinary Unit of Work. As you said, the 'Learning Task' identifies the need for a central problem or question - and similarly, the Transdisciplinary Unit requires an overarching question to drive the unit. It is becoming clear that these common threads amongst theorists and frameworks all point to our great challenge as educators - to truly engage our learners and involve them in rich, meaningful and authentic learning tasks.

  2. Hi Andrew,
    I am finding the same thing - there are so many theories and frameworks that at first it can be daunting. However there are, as you said, common threads that run between each and knit together an approach to teaching and learning that, if followed, is sure to truly engage learners and enhance the learning process.
    Also, as I have been making posts, it is clear to me just how great the importance of profiling our learners really is. Its not just about the learnING but the learnER as an individual.