"WebQuest," as defined by Tom March, circa 2003
"A WebQuest is a scaffolded learning structure that uses links to essential resources on the World Wide Web and an authentic task to motivate students’ investigation of a central, open-ended question, development of individual expertise and participation in a final group process that attempts to transform newly acquired information into a more sophisticated understanding. The best WebQuests do this in a way that inspires students to see richer thematic relationships, facilitate a contribution to the real world of learning and reflect on their own metacognitive processes."
This is a tool for learning design and is a launch pad for student inquiry in an engaging way.
The basic component of the system is the central destination that the student/s access to the unit of work. It would comprise a description of the task ahead and present a line or lines of enquiry the students can follow. Take a look at the following example: http://www.kn.sbc.com/wired/China/ChinaQuest.html
This example starts off with a paragraph to set the scene with basic reference sites as well as linking to current events adding to the currency of the subject. Next is a description of the task and a list of the outcomes that will be achieved. Background follows and there are links that provide learners with options that they can choose from to achieve the stated outcomes. This system provides a “scaffolded learning structure that uses links to essential resources on the World Wide Web and an authentic task to motivate students” March (2003). It can be observed that this example also follows the criteria set by Tom March that it must be “Rich, Real and Relevant”.
I would like to design webquests for my students as I think they allow students to go at their own pace and achieve levels of sophistication according to their ability. As an example a current unit is the Australian Parliamentary System which provides many avenues to explore such as voting, the Judiciary, political parties, history, buildings, both houses and politicians. The information or research that is undertaken could be individual or in groups and a choice of topics is easy to offer. Scaffolding of the learning experience is integral to this system as is continuous formative assessment bracketed between stages.
March, T (2002) What WebQuests Are (Really). Retrieved August 15 2009, from http://bestwebquests.com/what_webquests_are.asp