A WebQuest About WebQuests

Modul Innovative Lehr- und Lernformen

by Michael Thürwächter


Since 1995, teachers everywhere have learned how to use the web well by adopting the WebQuest format to create inquiry-oriented lessons. But what exactly is a WebQuest? What does it feel like to do one? How do you know a good one when you see it? In the space of 45 minutes, you're going to grapple with these questions and more.

The Task

To develop great WebQuests, you need to develop a thorough understanding of the different possibilities open to you as you create web-based lessons. One way for you to get there is to critically analyze a number of webquest examples and discuss them from multiple perspectives. That's your task in this exercise.

By the end of this activity, you and your group will answer these questions:

1.      Which two examples of the WebQuests listed below are the best ones? Why?

2.      Which two are the worst? Why?

3.      What do best and worst mean to you?


Here are the sites you'll be analyzing:


GM Food - Friend or Foe? - What are genetically engineered foods and are they dangerous to our health and to our environment? Look at both sides of the issue and then discuss findings at the "World Food Conference".


Healthy Nutrition- It goes without saying that they want healthy food as part of a balanced diet. Unfortunately, the headmaster and the staff at NKG don´t know much about healthy eating. So they have asked you and your team of expert nutritionists for help. Your job is to inform them about healthy eating and tell them what kind of food to sell in their cafeteria.


The Shakespeare Mystery - William Shakespeare is the most admired and performed playwright in the world. However, very little is known about the man himself.

Did William Shakspere of Stratford really write those countless sonnets and plays or was it somebody else? What information is available on the biography of William Shakespeare? What was life like in Shakespearean England.

In this webquest, you will be asked to work in teams in order to shed some light on these questions. Having presented your results in class, the class will have enough background knowledge to take a closer look at some of Shakespeare´s works.


King Tutankhamun- Was it Murder? King Tut has been fascinating students and adults alike since the discovery of his tomb in 1922. Why has so much interest been generated about this unremarkable pharaoh? Could it be the fabulous gold and treasure discovered in his tomb? Or is it the mystery surrounding the boy king's early death? You and your renowned team have been hired by the Egyptian government to determine if King Tut was murdered. Your team will have only 3 days to complete your work.


Schiller Zeitgeschichte - Soll eine Schule nach Herzog Karl Eugen benannt werden? Nehmen Sie aus Ihrer gesellschaftlichen Situation heraus Stellung zur Namensgebung. Berücksichtigen Sie dabei Ihren Stand, Ihre Rechte und Pflichten und die damalige politische Lage. Formulieren Sie schriftlich eine Rede, in der Sie Ihren Standpunkt mit Hilfe der gefundenen Informationen überzeugend vertreten. Warum sind Sie dafür/dagegen, dass die Schule nach Herzog Karl Eugen benannt wird?


The British Empire -

In this WebQuest, you will act as part of a delegation from an assigned country that was once a colony. You will research the form that Imperialism took in that country.

Your delegation's task is to investigate the question: Were the effects of Imperialism in your country more positive or more negative overall?

The Process

1.        First, each participant will have a hard copy of the worksheet. To answer the questions given above, you'll break into groups of four. Within the group, each of you will take on one of the following roles:

The Efficiency Expert: You value time a great deal. You believe that too much time is wasted in today's classrooms on unfocused activity and learners not knowing what they should be doing at a given moment. To you, a good WebQuest is one that delivers the most learning bang for the buck. If it's a short, unambitious activity that teaches a small thing well, then you like it. If it's a longterm activity, it had better deliver a deep understanding of the topic it covers, in your view.

The Affiliator: To you, the best learning activities are those in which students learn to work together. WebQuests that force collaboration and create a need for discussion and consensus are the best in your view. If a WebQuest could be done by a student working alone, it leaves you cold.

The Altitudinist: Higher level thinking is everything to you. There's too much emphasis on factual recall in schools today. The only justification for bringing technology into schools is if it opens up the possibility that students will have to analyze information, synthesize multiple perspectives, and take a stance on the merits of something. You also value sites that allow for some creative expression on the part of the learner.

The Technophile: You love this internet thang. To you, the best WebQuest is one that makes the best use of the technology of the Web. If a WebQuest has attractive colors, animated gifs, and lots of links to interesting sites, you love it. If it makes minimal use of the Web, you'd rather use a worksheet.

2.      Due to limited time, you can´t examine each of the sites on the list of resources. Try to check out one or two in detail. Use the worksheet to jot down some notes of your opinions of each from the perspective of your role. You'll need to examine each site fairly quickly. Don't spend more than 10 minutes on any one site.

3.      When everyone in the group has seen the assigned sites, it's time to get together to answer the questions. One way to proceed would be to go around and poll each team member for the best two and worst two from their perspective. Pay attention to each of the other perspectives, even if at first you think you might disagree with them.

4.      There will probably not be unanimous agreement, so the next step is to talk together to hammer out a compromise consensus about your team's nominations for best and worst. Pool your perspectives and see if you can agree on what's best for the learner.

5.      One person in each group should record the group's thoughts.

6.      When debriefing time is called, use this file to speak from as you report your results to the whole class. Do you think the other groups will agree with your conclusions?


Ideally, this exercise will provide you with a larger pool of ideas to create your own webquest. The best WebQuest is yet to be written. It might be yours!

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Written by Michael Thürwächter. Last updated on April 30, 2012

Adapted from