Vol. 6. No. 4 Int March 2003
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From the Editor

Webquests are fast becoming a popular tool in all subject areas--but just exactly what is a webquest and how can language teachers make--and use--them? In this article Gavin Dudeney takes a look at the origins of webquests and at how they can be implemented in the language classroom.

Vance Stevens, Editor
On the Internet

The Quest for Practical Web Usage

by Gavin Dudeney, International House, Barcelona

Bernie Dodge of San Diego State University was one of the first people to attempt to define and structure this kind of learning activity. According to him, a webquest is an "inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the internet...". (Dodge, 1995).

This definition has been refined over the years, and adapted for various different disciplines. Philip Benz (owner of the English Multiverse) describes a webquest as follows:

A "WebQuest" is a constructivist approach to learning.... Students not only collate and organize information they've found on the web, they orient their activities towards a specific goal they've been given, often associated with one or more roles modeled on adult professions. Since students have to participate in the elaboration of their learning strategies, the level of autonomy and creative production they attain is increased. With the proper guidance and "scaffolding" students can accomplish far more actual learning than in traditional transmission-of-knowledge situations that so often leave them wishing they were anywhere but in the classroom.( Benz, 2001)

Essentially, then, we might consider webquests to be mini-projects in which a large percentage of the input and material is supplied by the Internet. Webquests can be teacher-made or learner-made, depending on the learning activity the teacher decides on.

Why use Webquests?

There are many compelling reasons for using webquests in the classroom, including:

Structure of a webquest

Webquests have now been around long enough for them to have a clearly-defined structure. However, this structure--whilst being unofficially recognised as the definitive schema for these activities--should only really be taken as a basic guideline and you should design your webquests to suit the needs and learning styles of your group.

There are usually four main sections to a webquest:

Since Bernie Dodge developed his model in 1995, many educators have added both to the theory and the practice of webquests, and it is now possible to find several good examples of them in many different subject areas.

Producing a webquest

Producing a webquest does not entail any real degree of detailed technical knowledge. Whilst all of the examples below are essentially web-based, it is not at all beyond the capabilities of language instructors with rudimentary IT skills to produce a professional-looking and workable design using any modern word processor. The skillset for producing a webquest might be defined as follows:

Before sitting down to plan a webquest, it is always worth searching around on the Net to see if someone has produced something which might fit your needs. There are plenty of webquest "repositories" out on the Net, so there is little point in re-inventing the wheel. Use Google to have a good look round before you do the hard work yourself.

In the event that you DO have to design and produce your own webquest, Tom March (1997) has produced a flow chart for the design process

Essentially, the following guidelines will get you started:

Once these tasks have been performed, the webquest can be put together as a simple word processed document (add images and links to all the resources learners will need) or as a webpage. Word processed files can then be hosted on a school server or Intranet whilst webpages can be uploaded to one of the free services such as Geocities, Tripod, etc.

Example webquests

Some examples from the many available webquests on the Internet:


Learn about Ancient Egyptian daily life, Egyptian mummies…


What actions should the U.S. take in its policy towards China?


You and your partners have been elected as the curators of one year of The 1960's Museum.


How you would feel if you decided to leave your homeland forever?


Have you ever been to London? This time you are going to visit London through the internet…


What exactly is a WebQuest? What does it feel like to do one?


Your family has decided to take a trip to France….

Further resources can be found at http://www.dudeney.com/consultants-e/resources.html


Benz, P. (2001). Webquests, a Constructivist Approach.http://www.ardecol.ac-grenoble.fr/english/tice/enwebquests.htm.

Dodge, B. (1995). Some Thoughts About Webquests. http://edweb.sdsu.edu/courses/edtec596/about_webquests.html.

Dudeney, G. (2000). The Internet and the Language Classroom. Cambridge University Press.

March, T. (1997). The Webquest Design Process. http://www.ozline.com/webquests/design.html.

Marzano, R.J. (1992). A different kind of class: Teaching with dimensions of learning. Alexandria VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Marzano, R.J., Brandt, R.S., Hughes, C.S., Jones, B.F., Presseisen, B.Z., Rankin, S.C. & Suhor, C. (1988). Dimensions of thinking: A framework for curriculum and instruction. Alexandria VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

About the author

Gavin Dudeney is Head of New Technologies at International House Barcelona, Spain (www.ihes.com)  and Lead Developer for the online language school Net Languages (http://www.netlanguages.com) . Author of the Cambridge University Press title The Internet & The Language Classroom (uk.cambridge.org/elt/chlt/internet/) he also runs consultants-e, an e-learning consultancy.