ABC Science: "Peanut allergy rate doubles despite avoidance"

by frances 28. February 2009 10:01
This Science report would be an interesting WebQuest hook for students studying Home Economics, Family and Consumer Science, Food Studies, or Biology!
Dr. Mullins said: "it adds to growing evidence that guidelines promoting peanut avoidance in young diets may be counterproductive....Among the factors that have been discounted are a mother's diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding, genetically modified food, additives and preservatives in food....There is also some evidence emerging that Vitamin D deficiency may play a role."

Teachers would need to think about how they would develop a WebQuest around this report and also research conducted in the UK. It could also be developed for students in Tertiary study studying to be Dietitians!

ABC 7.30 Report: War memorial battle over frontier conflict recognition

by frances 26. February 2009 23:50

"The Australian War Memorial in Canberra is engaged in a behind-the-scenes battle about whether it should commemorate the fighting between Aboriginal people and the early colonial settlers." (Source: ABC, 7.30 Report)

What a great report and one that could easily be adapted into a WebQuest for students in Years 8 - 12 studying Australian History.

The 7.30 Report goes on: "late last year, the history professor Ken Inglis renewed a call for the War Memorial to recognise one conflict not commemorated - the fighting between Aboriginal people and the country's early colonial settlers. The official memorial response is that such fighting falls outside its charter, a claim that's disputed by some respected military historians and Aboriginal people."

Several experts are interviewed [and these could easily be used as the basis for Roles within a WebQuest]: Ken Inglis, an historian and writer of "Sacred Places"; Geoffrey Blainey, an historian in favour of looking at different conflicts including the Eureka Stockade in the War Memorial; Memorial council member and president of the Returned Services League, Major General Bill Crews, who expressed views in opposition to the inclusion of the colonial conflicts between Aboriginal and say the forces of Governor Macquarie; Gordon Briscoe, History ANU who expressed the view: "We want this recognised, redefined as a war of resistance against the British which was continued into the Australian period."; former Chief of Army and military historian Lieutenant General John Coates in agreement; Dr Peter Stanley, from the National Museum in favour; and, current director of the War Memorial, Major General Steve Gower, who is reported to have closed the matter.

The Big Question could be based around an issue of cultural racism which was brought up by the Report!

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Ideas on how to use News topics as WebQuests

Inquiry-Based Learning and Technology: Designing and Exploring WebQuests

by frances 24. February 2009 16:22


Jan Lacina, "Inquiry-Based Learning and Technology: Designing and Exploring WebQuests".
Childhood Education. 23 Feb, 2009.

This particular article only touches the surface about WebQuests! There is a good description of the components of a WebQuest [Introduction, Task, Process, Resources, Evaluation, Conclusion] but no emphasis on Problem-Solving!

What a pity!!!

Any new teacher (or one new to WebQuests) reading this article would assume that any inquiry activity using higher order thinking and the Internet is a WebQuest.

WebQuests are so much more than that!

They involved Problem-Based Learning [PBL] and Collaborative Learning. An essential characteristic of a WebQuest is an authentic problem to be solved and the use of different perspectives around that problem reflecting the community's breadth of views around this issue. These roles or perspectives allow students to use their emotional intelligence to solve the messy, real problem.

This article does have its redeeming factors! The best bits are under the heading "Advice From the Field". Here Lacina provides sound advice on the creation and implementation of a WebQuest. This advice includes:

"* Time. You need to spend a large amount of time exploring various WebQuests prior to designing your own. It is easy to be deceived by appearances. When you explore and evaluate the site, you can determine which WebQuests are well designed. (If you subscribe to WebQuest Direct , only $US42/year as an individual, you will have access to thousands of reviewed WebQuests to explore around your topic!)

* Organization. Follow Dodge and March's organization components - the creators of the concept of WebQuests - Introduction, Task, Process, Resources, Evaluation, Conclusion (also put in a Teacher's Guide - they are so helpful to other teachers). They are simple and easy for students to follow-and navigating the site is clear-cut.

* Resources/Links. Check links frequently, since addresses change often. Also, too many resources can overwhelm students, and they may not try them all-or they may lose their enthusiasm for the activity.

* Show ... Do Not Tell. Show students how to use a WebQuest by guiding them through the process, using a computer to show them the process as they see each step on the computer screen. Just like with any assignment, modeling and showing students the process is more effective than telling them about it.

* Backup Plan. I think most of us can tell numerous stories about technology glitches. Provide printed copies of the WebQuest, or be prepared with another activity in case there is a technology problem.

* Be Enthusiastic. Your enthusiasm about inquiry learning, technology, and WebQuests will help excite the students about the project.

Lacina goes on to provide 10 WebQuests [well some are WebQuests, others are Research Assignments, two are not available, one was just an Educational Resources, and, one only got a rating from WebQuest Direct of zero!] for you to go and look at! (Be mindful of the incorrect spaces within the URLs - they will need to be eliminated to get to the websites; also one recommendation is now off the web completely [not even in the Internet Archive])

The two good WebQuests on this particular list are:

Choosing a Class Pet (Elementary/Primary) 

Chocolate: A Multi disciplinary webquest

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Article Review | What is a WebQuest?

eSN Special Report: Project-based learning engages students, garners results

by frances 22. February 2009 12:07

Here are some of the excerpts from this article:

"Project-based learning is a successful approach to instruction for a variety of reasons, its proponents say.
For one thing, it helps students retain the information they learn....
Another reason project-based learning is useful is because it engages students' interest and motivates them to learn.
One of the main reasons kids drop out of school is because they're bored. With project-based learning, students are encouraged to explore their own interests and to make connections to the world beyond school.
Project-based learning also encourages a deeper level of thinking by involving students in answering questions for themselves, making connections, and using analytical skills
." (Source:

Go and have a read of this paper - inspiring!!! You will need to register with eSN (but this is FREE). I love hearing the excitment in students' comments about what they are doing with PBL.

To view the whole paper (9 pages) go to the PDF version (you might still have to register) - it has some advertising but the content is great!

WebQuests are a sub-set of Project-based learning (PBL) or Problem-Based Learning!

There are SO many problems that you could provide to your students to solve and still be within your Curriculum!

Have a try!

If you need a template to get started - go to Short-cut WebQuest Authoring Tool (it's FREE). WebQuest Direct will provide you with FREE mentoring as you create your WebQuest!


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Article Review

Just sprinkling technology on the top?

by frances 16. February 2009 13:15

I came across Kerrie Smith's ( blog today with the title: Just sprinkling technology on the top?

She is reporting on another blog but in essence there is real substance to this question!

More and more, I'm coming across "WebQuests" that are NOT real WebQuests but Web-Based Activities disguised as WebQuests. They have been created by teachers to provide busy work, or, are teacher directed activities to provide students with more knowledge content rather than getting the students to use the content in a transformational way. These web-based activities have little in the way of higher order thinking, or collaborative practices; or, present the students with a messy problem to solve. They do however require the students to go to the Internet and scavenger hunt information.  

It's almost a way of saying "Well, I got them to use the computers"!
It's not embedding ICTs into the Curriculum though! It's not even using these expensive resources wisely.
While sprinking technology on the top looks attractive - there is no real substance to these measures. And the thing is, that if teachers used WebQuests - they would embed ICTs into the curriculum; they would excite and engage students to solve messy real life problems, AND still learn heaps while they are doing it!

Go on have a try! We provide mentoring help to those teachers who are using our FREE Short-cut WebQuest Authoring Tool!!! Just register and get going!

Students will delve into them and absorb more than the icing and sprinkles on the top!


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General | What is a WebQuest?

National Sorry Day

by frances 14. February 2009 19:16

Yesterday was National Apology Day marking the 1st anniversary since the Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said "Sorry" to the Indigenous peoples of Australia - an apology to the Stolen Generations.


There haven't been as many WebQuests written as there could have been on this topic!

An older WebQuest, created in 2001, that asks the Question "Should the Prime Minister say sorry?" is still relevant. This WebQuest could easily be adapted and brought up to date using SWAT (Short-cut WebQuest Authoring Tool - its free and we will give you mentoring help) to relate to the fact that PM Kevin Rudd has said Sorry to the Stolen Generations. The further questions still remain: "But has he gone far enough? What should happen now? Is there a difference between an Apology Day and a Sorry Day?"

Aboriginal Studies  Silver award      

Key Learning Areas: HSIE / SOSE / Social Studies; Religious Education & Values
Key Competencies: Collecting, analysing and organising information; Communicating Ideas and information; Solving problems; Working in a team
Tasks: Analytical; Compilation; Consensus; Judgement; Research
Grade Levels: Secondary / High School
Country: Australia Australia
Language: English
 Author: No author stated

Suitable for students in Years 7 - 9 studying Indigenous Reconciliation in Australia in Social Studies or Religion or Ethics. Students are given the following scenario: "The Prime Minister of Australia has requested a group be appointed to help advise himself and other central community representatives on how Australian people view saying "Sorry" to the Aboriginal People." Students are to belong to this Advisors group and to investigate the issue and then report back their findings." The big question is: "Should the Prime Minister and the Government say "sorry" to the Aboriginal People? Why/why not?" Students are to take on the following roles: an historian, a reporter, a health worker, an anthropologist and a librarian. Students investigate the Stolen Generations, Indigenous Rights, Reconciliation, Social Justice, Social and Civic Responsibility, Human Rights. As a team and as members of the individual perspectives students are to come together to answer the big question and reach concensus. Each member of the team will then write a letter outlining the reasons for their choice. This webquest makes use of the Nidja Noongar Boodjar Noonook Nyininy (NNBNN) resource pack, developed by the Catholic Education Office of Western Australia. Resources: comprehensive. Evaluation rubric for both the team and individual are present. No Conclusion is provided but there is Real World Feedback with email contacts for the Prime Minister, Minister and other authorities. No Teacher's Guide although there is a Teacher Resources link to Curriculum Frameworks for The Arts, English, Mathematics and Society and Environment. No Duration or Implementation advice is provided. Design and Layout: design and some images to aid students. Tips to improve: links to the Apology Day (13th February 2008) and extend the parameters of the big question. Last updated 2007.

Extra resources that could be used include:

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Ideas on how to use News topics as WebQuests

The Heat of the Moment

by frances 14. February 2009 18:22

Last week's Australian Story (ABC - The Heat of the Moment) explores the work of Prof. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg who over 10 years ago announced that the impact of global warming on the Great Barrier Reef would be devastating.


This program shows the supporters and the distractors of Professor Hoegh-Guldberg's work on the bleaching of the corals due to a slight rise in water temperature. This topic would make a great WebQuest as students could explore the reasons and emotions behind this work and become either a supporter or distractor within a role.

If you didn't want to make your own WebQuest with any of the authoring tools available (don't forget SWAT - it's free), then you might want to use the following excellent WebQuest and introduce Prof. Hoegh-Guldberg's work and this ABC link to the resource links: Here is WebQuest Direct's Review of this WebQuest:

Global Warming: Can you feel the heat?  Gold award     


Key Learning Areas: HSIE / SOSE / Social Studies; Science
Key Competencies: Collecting, analysing and organising information; Communicating Ideas and information; Planning and organising activities; Solving problems; Using technology; Working in a team
Tasks: Analytical; Compilation; Creative Product; Journalistic; Persuasion; Research; Science
Grade Levels: Secondary / High School
Country: Australia Australia
Language: English
 Author: Kerrie Malcolm

Designed for students in Year 9 studying Science particularly Earth Science and Global Warming. It could also be used in Social Sciences particularly Geography.

Students are given the following scenario: "Global warming is currently a hot topic (no pun intended!) and producers of BTN [Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Behind The News, TV show for students] are dedicating five episodes, each 5-10 minutes long, to global warming."

Students, in groups, are to select one episode to create and submit to BTN their 3 minute video. They are asked that each episode give viewers an understanding of the effects, causes and solutions to Global Warming. Working as a news crew, each team is to research, write, produce, interview, role play, direct and video tape either: "Episode 1, How are weather patterns changing as a result of global warming? Interview a television weather person, or a weather person from your local Bureau of Meteorology about effects such as rising temperatures, El Nino, and the increased intensity of storms and cyclones; or, Episode 2, Sea levels are gradually rising due to global warming, but that is not the only effect being observed in our oceans. Interview an officer of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and ask them about coral bleaching, and the acidification of the oceans. This segment could also demonstrate what might happen to the food chains of the ocean with further acidification; or, Episode 3, Investigate the causes of global warming, both natural and human activities. Talk to a scientist about how the carbon cycle is becoming unbalanced; or, Episode 4, The Australian Government intends to introduce a carbon emissions trading scheme. Discuss the scheme and its implications for industry and the economy with your local member of the federal parliament; or, Episode 5, Alternative energy can be produced from renewable and non-renewable resources. Contact a company that installs solar or wind energy equipment. Interview someone from the company and ask them to explain how alternative energy sources produce electricity and about the advantages and disadvantages of using their product."

There are four roles: Presenter, Director, Camera Person, and, Guest Interview Person. After completing their video, students are to submit their best 3 minutes to BTN which now has a segment on their website that encourages the submission of a 3 minute video which will either be televised or put on the BTN website.

Resources comprehensive. Evaluation rubrics for self evaluation, peer assessment and, teacher assessment are provided. Conclusion contains a challenge to submit their videos to other competitions and provides ideas for other projects that students could be involved in. Teacher's Guide is comprehensive and contains Curriculum Standards for Science and English; Duration: 8 lessons; and, a Lesson Plan implementation as well as addition resources and ideas. Design and Layout: Tips to improve this WebQuest: giving the students some more scaffolding within the process for editing the video; suggest that the students to put their videos onto YouTube as well as sending it to BTN; and, maybe use Movie Maker - a Video editing software that is free and very easy to use. Last updated 2008.


Using WebQuest to Support Learning with Technology in Higher Education

by frances 9. February 2009 16:56

This article, in PDF format, by Ahmed Hassanien, [University of Wolverhampton, UK] was reported in the Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Education, Vol 5, No 1.

The editor of this Journal, describes this paper the following way:

"In the first paper in this section, Ahmed Hassanien shares his experiences of Using Webquest to Support Learning with Technology in Higher Education. The paper presents an interesting reflective account of how to set up a Webquest. A Webquest’s defining features are that itis an inquiry-oriented, student-centred activity, where learning is encouraged from gathering and using information from Internet websites that have been nominated by the lecturer. Hassanien describes how an introductory Webquest was set up to support a research methods module - specifically onresearch philosophy - outlining a step-by-step approach to design and use. He incorporated a questionnaire aimed at evaluation and the findings from this show that students considered that theWebquest significantly enhanced their learning of research methods in Leisure, Tourism and Hospitality. Finally Hassanien offers useful tips for improvement, based on the trialling of his method."

This paper is a comprehensive review as to how WebQuest could enhance Higher Education [HE]. It was published in 2006. It is an academic paper so there are lots of relevant references eg. "Ester (1995) found that computer assisted instruction (CAI) and learning style can significantly improve student achievement and attitudes while decreasing necessary instructional contact times", if you are requiring research papers to engage with.



Some salient points:

"the concept [of WebQuests] has become very popular in the academic world. Ezell et al (2003) point out that webquests can be developed for various subject areas at different educational levels. They argue that the webquest is a technological tool, which is frequently being used to improve the quality of teaching and learning. Within the context of HE, the author believes that this type of technology has not been sufficiently used and there is room for further development. With a few appropriate modifications, Webquests can provide an effective instructional tool for university students. In order to introduce students to the challenge of webquests in HE, a multifaceted webquest activity was developed which is described and analysed in this article." (Hassanien, p.42)

Hassanien developed a questionnaire for one of his classes based on the research methodology and then created a WebQuest around qualitative and quantitive research methods.

Students were asked to evaluate the WebQuest and the findings were:

  • Most of the students (96 percent) found the webquest activity stimulating (66 percent strongly agreed,
    29 percent agreed) for their academic progress.
  • It is worth mentioning that none of the students answered ‘not important’ at the other end of the scale.
  • Moreover, most students agreed (62 percent strongly agreed and 35 percent agreed) that the activity sessions were relevant and useful.

Most students learned much more about the different research schools of thought than they might have if presented the information in a more traditional format. Students used the information they found when carrying out their own assignments. In other words, they used the formative assessment (the webquest) as a tool for their summative assessment.(p. 46)

There was mention of the limitations of using a WebQuest in Higher Education - that of students' inability on the Internet and, also that the WebQuest was squeezed into the module and therefore was not given enough time.

Unfortunately, although this paper gave a brilliant overview of the methodology used to present the WebQuest, there is no reference to the exact location of this WebQuest!

Sources & other Related Websites

1. Using WebQuest to Support Learning with Technology in Higher Education by Ahmed Hassanien

2. Problem-Based Learning at Central Queensland University and the Resources page

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Article Review

Victorian Bushfires

by frances 8. February 2009 20:06

During this past week, Victoria has been experiencing extreme weather conditions! 130 people have died as a result of bushfires in the State.  State Emergency Services have been working beyond the call of duty to contain these fires.

Source: ABC Online News

If you are teaching Science, you might like to use the following WebQuest, developed by the University of Sydney, The Science of Bushfires to give the students a real insight into an authentic problem faced by firefighters each year in Australia.

This WebQuest will give students an idea of the enormity of the problem of Australian bushfires.

Here is a Review of this WebQuest by WebQuest Direct:

The Science of Bushfires  Bronze award     Broken Link?

Key Learning Areas: HSIE / SOSE / Social Studies; Science
Key Competencies: Communicating ideas and information; Planning and organising activities; Solving problems; Working in a team
Tasks: Analytical, Compilation, Judgement, Persuasion, Research, Science
Grade Levels: Secondary / High School
Country: Australia Australia
Language: English

Suitable for students in Years 9 - 10. Students are asked to investigate the role that scientists have played in the understanding of bushfire behaviour and their effect on the Australian landscape, both today and in the past. Students have the opportunity to gain an understanding of how science can help in the prediction, monitoring and management of bushfire and their impact on the Australian environment. Meteorologist, Remote sensing/Geoscientist, Ecologist, Anthropologist, Fire researcher, Horticulturalist, and Medical researcher are the professional perspectives students are asked to research from. After research, as a group, students must prepare recommendations for effective Bushfire Management, addressing the questions - How can individuals be involved in Bushfire Management in a local area? What issues are better addressed at a State or Federal level? What is best for all Australians? The groups may decide to present their recommendations in written format, as a brochure or as a poster, in electronic format, as a presentation or web site, or through an oral presentation or debate. Resources: comprehensive. Evaluation: no evaluation rubric is provided. Conclusion is in the form of a question: "How has science contributed to an understanding of bushfires, their prediction, monitoring and management, and their effect on the environment and the Australian landscape?" No Teacher's Guide, Curriculum Standards, Duration or Implementation Advice is given. Design and Layout: basic. Tips to improve: students could be given a further challenge within the Conclusion and a Teacher's Guide could be provided; the addition of a fire survivor would also make this WebQuest more relevant. Last updated 2007

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Ideas on how to use News topics as WebQuests

An Introduction to Using WebQuests in your Classroom (2001)

by frances 6. February 2009 11:19

This website by Juliet Szyprowski, at Montgomery College, goes through the following ideas [using slides - so great for any Professional Development (PD)]

a. An Introduction to Using WebQuests in your Classroom

b. What is a WebQuest?

c. WebQuests are focused activities in which students utilize Web-based resources to perform an interesting task.

d. In a WebQuest...

e. What are the benefits of WebQuests?

f. The 6 Components of a WebQuest

i. Introduction

ii. The Task

iii. The Process

iv. Resources

v. Evaluation

vi. Conclusion

g. Example WebQuests:

i. Who will you vote for?

ii. On the Cutting Edge

iii. Tuskegee Tragedy

What do you think?

The WebQuest Page

Comment: These slides give an excellent overview of "What is a WebQuest?" and would be a good way to introduce the topic of WebQuests at a staff meeting as these slides are simple and direct.

I would suggest that you have an interactive activity after these slides of other WebQuests teachers could to go to (particularly ones that would suit their curriculum needs), discuss/debate, and, see what needed to be changed to be used in their classroom. Don't forget to tell them about how they can use SWAT (IT'S FREE) to adapt a WebQuest to their classroom [always acknowledging the original author].

The examples given provide you with some ideas about the style, design, and content, however, they are not the best WebQuests (although the Tuskegee Tragedy is excellent and built by Tom March, the Co-Creator of the concept of WebQuests). To give you an idea of the quality, here is WebQuest Direct's Review of "On the Cutting Edge":  


1. On the Cutting Edge  Bronze award       

Key Learning Areas: Professional Development; Technology & Design
Key Competencies: Collecting, analysing and organising information; Using technology; Working in a team
Tasks: Analytical; Compilation; Design; Research
Grade Levels: Secondary / High School; Teacher; Community; Business Training
Country: U.S.A. U.S.A.
Language: English
 Author: David Young

Designed for participants undertaking training with but also suitable for students in Years 10 - 12 studying Technology, Computer Studies or Graphic Design students. Students are to investigate for the critical characteristics and examples of a perfect website. This would be a good activity to use when planning for or designing a school website (or designing a website) or teaching students to critically analyse websites. Students have to produce a "design grid," after investigating websites from the perspective of: an Information Architect, Graphics Designer, Programmer, and Content Manager. They are to come to an agreement (concensus) about their grid. Resources: adequate although many more could be provided especially new Web 2.0 tools. Evaluation: No evaluation rubric is given. Conclusion is a wrap up along with asking participants to complete an online survey; and, write a brief reflection paper describing what they learnt about web site design and about the concept of WebQuest itself. No Teacher's Guide, Curriculum Standards, Duration or Implementation Advice is provided. Design and Layout: basic. Last updated 2006.
Also at:



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Other WebQuest & Educational Blogs

As I come across other WebQuest Blogs (& Educational ones), I will list them here.

Jane Hart's Blog (Jane is a Social Technologies Guru in UK)

Scot Aldred's Blog (Colleague at Central Queensland University and guru on Problem-Based Learning (PBL)

The Innovative Educator

Digital Education Blog

Blogging Corner Carnival

eLearn Magazine Blog

Dr. Lisa Neal Gualtieri, Editor-in-Chief, eLearn Magazine

Primary Blog

Charlie Sullivan - Charlie does a fantastic job collating websites for Primary schools.

De Tools Blog

This blog by and for online educators and features free web based tools applications and resources. Author: John Goldsmith.

Bright Ideas: a blog by the School Library Association of Victoria

The Book Whisperer

This blog is written by Donalyn Miller, a 6th Grade teacher in Texas, who is reknown for encouraging students to read!


Clustr Map

Created WebQuests

Champions of Justice
Gold Force
Community Shopping Centre Planner
Can you get the party started?
Reminders of our moral conscience
The Petrov Affair
My Business Rules
Pluto's planetary status