In the first part of this series you learned what a WebQuest is and how to
reconstruct our sample WebQuest “Time Machine MTV.” You are,
however, probably eager to create your own original WebQuests. It is not
that hard—especially if you use a template—but there are a number
of “gotchas” and technical aspects to keep in mind as you develop
your “lesson in a Web page.”
Strategies for developing your WebQuest content
You’ve got a great idea for a WebQuest, but don’t know quite
how to begin. Here are a few strategies to help you develop a great lesson
for (or with) your kids or students.
You can use concept-mapping software such as Kidspiration or
Inspirations to outline your ideas.
Once you have your basic idea, use the Internet to find supporting
Web sites and images.
You should probably look at standards for your subject matter
early in development so that you can include them in your thought process
as you create your WebQuest.
(For Maryland, these standards are listed at http://mdk12.org/mspp/vsc/index.html.)
Begin to fully develop the text for each section, and insert
the images and hyperlinks in the appropriate places. It is often less distracting
your text in a plain text editor, and then copy/paste it into
the appropriate section of the WebQuest template later.
Once you know what you’re expecting from the students, you
can develop your rubric.
Web pages are pretty dull unless there are images and media. Everyone knows
that all you need to do to make any Web image your own is to control-click
on it (right-click on a PC or with a two-button mouse) and choose “save
image” or “download to disk.” And if it’s for educational
use, you don’t have to worry about copyright issues, right?
Wrong! If your WebQuest never goes beyond your own computer, and no one
sees it but you, it is probably not going to be a problem if you take any
all images. The minute you upload the WebQuest to the Internet, share it
at an open house, or make it public in any way, you become a party to copyright
Educator World” offers this online article about copyright and fair
use in education: http://www.education-world.com/a_curr/curr280.shtml. Fair
use does not mean you can take anything you want and all you want. For instance,
for audio clips, fair use in education states that you may use 30 seconds
or 10%, whichever is less. You might also want to read “10 Myths of
Copyright Law” at http://www.templetons.com/brad/copymyths.html.
You can circumvent the problem and use one of the many Web sites that offer
free images. Usually in these cases, the site asks only that you give it
credit. It is not that hard—the easiest way to keep track of where
your images come from is to keep a word processor running in the background.
When you find an image you would like to use, download it, then copy the
Web address to your document. Type a short description of the image so you’ll
remember which one goes with each address.
If you are visiting a Web site that offers free images, look for a statement
of use. Free for personal or educational use usually means that you can use
the image on your personal Web page or in a school project. You cannot resell
the image or use it in a commercial product without paying for the right
to do so. I mention this because I have heard of students creating project
CDs that they then sell to their peers—and then get caught using copyrighted
Web sites that offer free images
Here are some good places that teachers and students can find free images
for use in their WebQuests. “Pics for Learning” is a particularly
good education resource.
Another important part of the WebQuest is developing a good list of links
for the guided research. There is no quality assurance department running
around the Web putting stamps of “accurate information” or “a
load of garbage” on Web pages. How can you find the best information
on a topic? When assessing Web pages, ask yourself lots of questions.
Who is the originator of the page? Is it personal? Is there a tilde
in front of the name? You’ll often see personal sites on geocities
or yahoo. Does this mean that the information is not valuable? It is possibly
excellent information, but you do need to ask more questions about such
Look for what the URL tells you. What is its domain? .gov? .edu?
.com? .org? Government and education sites usually take extra care in assuring
that their information is accurate. Organizations are often experts in
topic, but you do need to be careful that there is not a particular bias.
Have you ever heard of the group who sponsors the pages? We all have
heard of “The Washington Post” or “The Kennedy Center.” We
have our personal views on the legitimacy of any information we glean from
Is there a date on the page that indicates if it is current? If you
are investigating copyright and fair use in education, you do not want
on a page that is dated from 1997. Look for “last updated” on
the pages you are considering using.
Does the author have credentials? (Check the “about” or “resume” sections
to find out more about the author.)
Are there related links or footnotes? Check to see if other reputable
sites link to the pages. If you are researching dance and go to “The
Maryland Council for Dance” Web site, you’ll see a long page
of other dance links. These links are included after the board studies
them to make sure they are appropriate. This should give you a good sense
MCD is a central dance site, and its information is probably pretty accurate.
Use Google for a link search. (Type link: then the address of the
page.) If lots of other sites link to a particular site, it often indicates
the pages are considered a good source of information on a particular topic.
Are there lots of dead links on the pages? This indicates that the
information is probably old, the site owner is not working on keeping the
and you should probably be wary of the information you find here.
Is this source as good as what you would find in the library? Find
the best links on a topic. Otherwise, it is probably more productive to
in at your local library.
Evaluate the page’s purpose. Is the page objective? Or is the
page a barely disguised attempt to advertise? If so, be careful about using
link for your WebQuest’s guided research.
Here are some respected academic research sites to help you find great links
for your WebQuests:
Making a WebQuest is pretty easy when you use a template, but there are
some common problems that many beginning Web page developers experience.
Always make sure that your images and other media are in the same
folder with your HTML pages. You wouldn’t leave the eggs in the refrigerator
when you bake the cake that you’ll take to Grandma’s birthday
party. A Web page is a kind of recipe that includes ingredients that you
can’t leave behind when you put the WebQuest up on the Web. You want
to mix all of your ingredients in the same bowl—and bake them together.
The images that appear on your pages when you look at your WebQuest
are linked to the page; they are not actually embedded in the page like
you bring into Microsoft Word. You must maintain the integrity of the
link by not moving the image-to-page relationship. You must always include
images when you transport your WebQuest by floppy, CD, or jump drive.
You must always include them when you move your files onto a Web host.
Make sure you don’t disturb the links at the top of the
page (the intro, task, process, etc.) These are internal links that go
within your page.
If you want to prepare your text in a word processing program first and then
copy and paste it into the WebQuest template, use a plain text editor like
BBEdit or Notepad. If you must use Microsoft Word, make sure you do a “save
as” and choose plain text as the option in the popup menu.
Sharing your WebQuest
After much care and hard work, you’ve done it. You’ve created
a great WebQuest that helps students or families productively use the Internet
to learn more about a subject. What are some ways you can share your WebQuest?
Washington Apple Pi offers limited Web space for all members.
Washington Apple Pi Explorer members have roughly 100 megabytes
of Web space as part of their Explorer subscriptions.
Your ISP probably offers free space for members to post personal
If you’re a teacher, you can probably upload your WebQuest
to your school’s Internet or intranet server.
If you’re really ambitious, you can purchase a domain name
and professional hosting space for your WebQuest. There are many very inexpensive
Web hosts out there. Two of my favorites are www.pair.com (domain
and hosting for a
year are about $75) and www.golivehost.com (php/MySQL hosting
costs about 119 for a year.)
For the low tech among us, there’s always “sneaker
your WebQuest on a floppy, CD, zip cartridge, or jump drive,
slip on your sneakers, and walk over to each computer you wish to copy
the WebQuest to.
I hope this series has given you some ideas for creating great
WebQuests for, or with, your family and students. If you do
create an original
WebQuest, I would love to hear from you. Drop me a line at