Webquests and Task-Based Teaching

Webinar Presentation

If students are to learn to use real language when communicating, they need to be exposed to real language too. This is where teachers start incorporating task-based learning activities. On the scale of the adult task-based learning, webquests can be considered as pre-task activities.

The webquest model was developed by Bernie Dodge and Tom March at San Diego State University in February, 1995. It was defined as “an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the Internet…” In other words, a learner goes online and uses the resources available out there to complete a task. But the according to the model description learners are exploring a set of information sources usually pre-defined by the teacher. The main idea behind is that students spend their time using information, not looking for it. The model was introduced in 1995… 19 years ago and it was a brilliant idea ahead of its time, when limited resources were available online, when there were no relevancy-based search engines and when the catalog of 50,000 documents seemed to be an incredibly huge repository of information.

The rapid development and adoption of digital technologies is changing the way we work and communicate. A wequest in its traditional understanding might be frustrating for students because they are limited to a certain space rather than the ability to explore wherever they want online. The Internet as a whole has become a resource for the completion of the task required. So instead of pre-selecting the resources, let you learner be the boss. Help your learners master their web search skills and expand their digital fluency.

Besides, the web 2.0 world is much more welcoming to the creation of webquests than a web 1.0 environment dominated when the webquest model was developed. Web 2.0 tools have given the opportunity for more active learning. They have transformed the web from a place for information retrieval into a space for conversation and interaction.

You can embed Twitter hashtags, Youtube videos, engage learner’s participation in Voicethread conversations, they can take pictures while working on their task and upload them to Flicker or Picasa albums and share with other participants for further discussion. The group work and peer-to peer and student-to-teacher collaboration embedded into the webquest is an integral part of working online.

Basically, a webquest is what an average person does in his/her everyday life: we embark on a web journey every time we want to make an expensive purchase, go on holidays or write a doctoral dissertation. This is just the way things work nowadays:  we are searching for information online, analyze it and share with other people. So why not integrate the same concept into your teaching?

Thanks and see you online,
Margarita Berezyanskaya