What are some good Australian WebQuests?

by frances 26. January 2010 16:50

As today is Australia Day, it might be a good idea to look at some good Australian WebQuests! It is also Republic Day in India - so I will investigate some Indian WebQuests for later in the week.

The Reviews are from the Team @ WebQuest Direct.

Secondary School WebQuest:

Antarctica - an unspoilt wilderness on earth  Gold award     


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

Designed for students in Year 9 (Queensland, Australia) studying Social Studies particularly Geography. Students are given the following scenario: "The Australian Government has come under enormous pressure recently from multinational companies to look at ways in which Australia can develop Antarctica. These companies are considering the ideas of ecotourism, mining or commercial fishing at Antarctica in 2010. These companies have on many occasions criticised the Federal Government for not doing enough towards the development of Antarctica. As humans we are now able to travel to all parts of the globe and we are becoming more and more interested in commercialising Antarctica. Fearing further criticism and concerns regarding re-election, the Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett has requested your team to prepare a presentation into the viability and complex issues that surround these controversial proposals. The Australian Government has requested that a number of Teams explore the impact of ecotourism, mining and commercial fishing proposals on the animals and natural environment of Antarctica." The Big Question is: "Can commercial exploitation and the preservation of the natural Antarctic ecosystem co-exist together?" The roles are: Tour Operator, Environmentalist, Scientist, or, Politician. These roles have questions to be answered and comprehensive resources to look up and research. "The team is to develop a group presentation that contains recommendations that consider issues of tourism impact, scientific research, political pressures, climate, environment and wildlife. Once each individual has researched and developed an argument in relation to their role, they are to come together as a team to develop a conclusion and recommendations. The five (5) summary recommendations that either support or argue against the proposals will be forwarded to the Federal Government Environment Minister Peter Garrett on behalf of the whole team." Resources are comprehensive. Conclusion contains Real World Feedback Complete a class summary of recommendations and send them directly to the Australian Antarctic Division. Students are also challenged to investigate one of the following three issues facing Australian and its environment: Ecotourism in the Daintree Forrest; or, Mining on the Great Barrier Reef; or, Commercial Fishing on the Great Barrier Reef by recording for two weeks any media references to their topic and commenting on their research in a response paper - this is also assessed. Evaluation rubric is provided. Teacher's Guide contains Curriculum Standards for SOSE (Social Studies), Science and Technology; implementation advice; and, Duration: could be incorporated into an unit of work lasting one term (8 - 10 weeks) or stand alone at the end of the unit: 4 weeks. Design and Layout is excellent with images to enhance learning; font size appropriate. Last updated 2008.

A Middle School WebQuest:

The Last Lighthouse Keeper – Web Quest     

Key Learning Areas: HSIE / SOSE / Social Studies
Key Competencies:
Tasks: Other
Grade Levels: Middle
Country: Australia Australia
Language: English

Designed for students in Years 5 - 8. The unit of work focuses on the question of ‘Who wins from automation?’ and uses Tasmanian lighthouses as the prime example. Students may start this WebQuest with a Knowledge Hunt at http://www.maritimetas.org/LLK_KH.html The big questions are: "Should the Keeper remain or should the light be automated?" and "What is your recommendation about the future management of the lighthouse and of the island itself?" Students are to decide on the island's name (English/Dutch); and, the location of several important features such as the lighthouse and associated buildings, the seal colony, and the access. Students explore the pros and cons of automation from the viewpoint of various stakeholders: Lighthouse Keeper and family; Tourism Developers; Environmentalists; Employer Representatives; Yachting Disaster Survivors; and, Lawyers. Each group, besides the lawyers - who help every role, present their recommendation before a class discussion or debate is held to try to resolve the future of the last Lighthouse Keeper. They are to develop a management plan for the lighthouse and the island itself. There is an opportunity to obtain Real Life Feedback from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and families who were lighthouse keepers. Teachers interested in Philosophy for Children could have the class conduct a community of inquiry exploring the question of "Who do you think wins from automation?" Tasmanian Curriculum Standards are listed. Extensive resources listed. Last updated 2004.

A Primary School WebQuest:

Potter's Administration  Gold award    

Key Learning Areas: English & Language Arts (ELA); HSIE / SOSE / Social Studies; Technology & Design; The Arts & Music
Key Competencies: Collecting, analysing and organising information; Communicating Ideas and information; Planning and organising activities; Solving problems; Working in a team
Tasks: Analytical; Compilation; Creative Product; Mystery; Research
Grade Levels: Primary / Elementary; Middle
Country: Australia Australia
Language: English

Designed for students in Years 6 - 7 (Queensland, Australia, or Years 5 - 6 students in most other Australian States), based on Harry Potter, and on the study of all levels of Australian Government. Students are invited to become one of Dumbledore's Army to see if the Australian Government System is the one for the Newly Revised Ministry of Magic. Students are to take on a role (Muggle, Aura, Ministry Official; House-elf, Centaur or Giant) and investigate the Australian Government from this beings perspective and identify the key parts of this style of government that would particularly suit them by using a Venn Diagram to demonstrate the similarities and differences between the different levels of government; identify leaders, deputies and opposition; and describe significant roles and government responsibilities i.e. Garbage collection and Defence services; assemble a draft of the most significant responsibilities of each level of government; negotiate within their team and come up with the 4 most significant responsibilities of each; devise 4 spells that the Ministry could use to implement their 4 most important responsibilities; name the spells; and, clarify what the spell would do. Students are to come to consensus on whether the New Magical Government should use the Australian Government as a superior prototype. Students are to then design and present a Power Point and short oral presentation to the other members of Dumbledore’s Army, The Order and The Head of the Ministry where each member explains who they were and their perspective on the need for a Magical Government; describe the significantly important aspects of the Australian Government for the new Magical government; and, explain the 4 spells created and their specific function, for each level of government. Resources: comprehensive. Evaluation rubric is provided. Conclusion: students are told that they "have been nominated for election into Government for the Ministry of Magic". Students are to come prepared in appropriate dress, bring their profile and be prepared to appeal to their peers for selection. Their profile has to be a poster with their name, preferred office position and slogan, list of special magical skills and one significant quality which they think would make them the most pleasing representative. Teacher's Guide provides Duration: 4 weeks (3 hours per week), Queensland Curriculum Outcomes are listed, information about each of the Tasks; and, feedback from another school about their experiences. Design and layout: visually exciting as well as audio clips to enhance student learning. This activity has turned a somewhat boring topic "Three levels of Government within Australia" to an exciting relevant topic. Last updated 2008.

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What is a WebQuest? | What is a WebQuest? | What is a WebQuest? | What is a WebQuest?

Problem-Based Learning: What is a WebQuest?

by frances 22. January 2010 16:48

Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is the major pedagogy behind WebQuests!

Creators of WebQuests need to know about this Educational Theory.

Here are some resources that you might find relevant: The first site is from my good friend @ CQU, Scot Aldred. Scot is a PBL guru and he has many resources here for you to explore.

Central Queensland University – Scot Aldred’s PBL site:

ACS Distance Education  - this site explores the theory and the benefits of using PBL in the classroom.



Medical Journal of Australia: PBL: its rationale and efficacy - getting back to the roots of PBL - Problem-Based Learning in Medicine!

I recently gave these resources to a group of student teachers about to embark on making a WebQuest!

You mightn't go to all the resources listed here but at least you will get the main point of a WebQuest - to give the students a messy problem to solve!

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PBL: What is a WebQuest?

by frances 21. January 2010 16:46

Here is quite a good video on PBL that gives an overview of what it entails.

Although based in Higher Education the elements of PBL can be used at all levels of education.

Go and have a look and tell me what you think!

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When a WebQuest ISN'T a WebQuest: What is a WebQuest?

by frances 20. January 2010 09:11

I subscribe to Google Alerts for WebQuests. It is a great source of new WebQuests for us to review!

However, it really stresses me when there is no moderation when a "WebQuest" is created so the myth of a WebQuest as a Research Assignment is perpetuated!

Have a look at this recent example: The Life of a Butterfly

This is a straight "Teacher Directed", "my students need to know about the life cycle of butterflies" and I need to integrate computers and activities on computers into my classroom type activity!
Good as a Web-based Activity but NOT a WebQuest!
Ok, it is hard to give the younger students a WebQuests that requires thinking skills BUT it can be done! Look at how effective P4C (Philosophy for Children) is with the students from Kindergarten to Year 2. Go and have a look at some of the resources I have listed below about P4C.
Getting back to this NON-WebQuest.
This topic is not appropriate for a WebQuest.
There is no problem to solve! Just research and regurgitate! Therefore no higher order thinking either!
As a teacher, you need to then dismiss this topic - the Life Cycle of a Butterfly -  as a WebQuest.
After the students know about Life Cycles of insects, they could then tackle a problem such as the one seen here:
Mununja the Butterfly where the big Question is: What are the threats of ecotourism to our native plants and animals?



P4C: Resources

Multiple Intelligences (MI): What is a WebQuest?

by frances 19. January 2010 08:15

Promoting Learning International has a range of Lesson Grids that allow teachers to line up MI and Bloom's new Taxonomy.

Have a look at this great grid or matrix (48 Grid - PLI also has a 56 Grid) at: Country Area Program (CAP)
It can be very important when you are creating or using a WebQuest to map the Multiple Intelligences against the tasks and higher order thinking skill activities (Bloom's Taxonomy) within the WebQuest. This will give you reassurance that what you are doing is not just busy work but authentic work - one that will develop critical thinking skills.
You might like to go and have a look at the following websites:
Multiple Intelligences (MI) & Take the Test: Discover your MI Online! 
This site gives information about Multiple Intelligences (MI) and you can take a MI test to work out how intelligent you are on each of the 9 intelligences. The test contains 40 questions and provides a graph showing the results. Great way to show students graphically their MI chart.


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Create a Thinking Curriculum: What is a WebQuest?

by frances 13. January 2010 11:27

One of the MAJOR components of a WebQuest is encouraging Higher Order Thinking Skills by giving students Tasks in ANALYSING, CREATING, EVALUATING.

I came across this great PowerPoint that I think you will really find useful, interesting and informative from Kurwongbah State School in Queensland! This PPT gives you an overview of Higher Order Thinking Skills and also the Research behind implementing HOTS; and, its application to Dimensions of Learning.


This school has obviously done some great work over a number of years and has been awarded the School Library Association of Queensland Brian Bahnisch Award for its Whole School Thinking Skills Program!
Their Thinking Skills website is a gold mine of information and websites to look into about Thinking Skills: take a look:

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Developing Critical Thinking: What is a WebQuest?

by frances 12. January 2010 09:20

I came across the following website which is an exercise for Teachers on how to Develop Critical Thinking within their students. The site has been developed by the NSW Country Areas Program (CAP) and uses Global Warming as the vehicle to engage Teachers.

There are 3 Steps listed including Developing Powerful Questions! Well worth a look!


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Higher Order Thinking Skills & Primary WebQuests: What is a WebQuest?

by frances 11. January 2010 23:41

Middle, Secondary, Business and Tertiary WebQuests can have Higher Order Thinking Skills encouraged in their tasks but what about Primary WebQuests?

Have a look at this outstanding Primary/Elementary WebQuest: Where has all the water gone?


Key Learning Areas: HSIE / SOSE / Social Studies
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; Design; Persuasion; Research; Science
Grade Levels: Primary / Elementary; Middle
Country: Australia Australia
Language: English

Designed for students in Years 6 - 7 (Queensland, Australia; or, Years 5 - 6 in most other Australian States).
Students are given the following scenario: "Our town is running out of water. Our Mayor has approached our school for some creative ideas to come up with for a long term solution to our town's water problems. As a member of this taskforce your team will investigate the issue and design a plan that will seek to resolve the water issues in our town. The Mayor has asked our school teams to present their plans to the local council using a ten minute multimedia presentation that will quickly and easily make your plans understood to all council members. There will then be a five minute time allocation for questions from the councilors. Your team will need to look at a lot of competing interests and different points of view, in order to come up with a plan that gives everyone enough water now and in the future. You will share your research with others on your team to develop a plan, but you will need data to support your plan. The solution does not have to be one that is currently used. Think creatively; original ideas are encourage. Good luck with your challenge, our town is counting on you."
Students, in groups of four, are to take on the roles of different Hydrologists: Hydrologist 1 is to investigate alternative sources of water supply; Hydrologist 2 is to investigate alternative water solutions; Hydrologist 3 is to investigate creative ways for reducing the use of water consumption; and, Hydrologist 4 is to investigate alternative products used to help create a sustainable water supply for the future.
They are to individually analyse the data for their particular area of expertise and report back to their taskforce group. Together, they are to create a multimedia presentation in which they are to present their ideas on how to save the town's water supply. Using DeBono's six thinking hats, students are to evaluate their action plan (multimedia presentation) before giving their 5 minute presentation.
Resources: while this is a generic problem throughout most of Australia, the comprehensive resources given are specifically for Queensland. Evaluation rubric is provided along with peer assessment rubric. Conclusion asks students to complete two activities: "Your team is to design a water audit plan to be distributed to students in your school. They will have one week to complete their home audit and return the survey to you. Once you have collated all your data you will write a report analysing the results. These results will then be published in the school newsletter. Your group will then design a poster showing water saving ideas that can be photocopied and placed around the community." Teacher's Guide is comprehensive and contains Curriculum Standards [Learning Outcomes]; some Implementation Advice, and, Duration: 90 minutes/week for 10 weeks. Design and Layout: simple and easy to use navigation; and, lots of images to aid learning. Last updated 2009.
Any problem or issue that is authentic and messy [having multiple viewpoints] can be made into a WebQuest and encourage Higher Order Thinking Skills regardless of age! WebQuest Direct & other WQ Directories have thousands of Primary WebQuests with HOTS in their tasks.
Make the benchmark higher and see the results of your students thinking!!!

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Higher Order Thinking Skills: What is a WebQuest?

by frances 8. January 2010 07:57

To create a great WebQuest, you need to have appropriate high level TASKS that promote Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS).

Sometimes this is not easy - especially if you have chosen the wrong topic to create into a WebQuest. If you are going to create a WebQuest, think about what tasks you want the students to undertake and then ask the question: Do these tasks promote HOTS?

Here is an excellent example of a WebQuest that has HOTS: Whose Restaurant will Rule?

Unfortunately, this WebQuest is now only in the Internet Archive. However, this means that you can still use this WebQuest. You might consider putting it into our Web 2.0 Short-cut WebQuest Authoring Tool (SWAT) acknowledging the original source, updating the links and using it with your students! [NB. WebQuest Direct has over 1,200 WebQuests reviewed now in the Internet Archive Only which could be used in this way!!!]
WebQuest Direct's Review of this WebQuest:
Key Learning Areas: HSIE / SOSE / Social Studies; Personal Development, Health & PE (PDHPE); Technology & Design
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; Design; Judgement; Persuasion; Research
Grade Levels: Secondary / High School; Business Training
Country: Australia Australia
Language: English
Description: Designed for students in Year 10 studying an integrated course including Technology, Social Studies, Business and Careers and could be adapted for Vocational Education and Training (VET) especially in Hospitality. Could also be used in Health, Nutrition and Food Safety. Students are to to develop and plan for their restaurant.
There are four roles: Head Chef who is responsible for developing the menu, ordering food and ensuring everything runs smoothly in the kitchen; Maitre'd who looks after bookings and the restaurant waiting staff, ensures customers are satisfied and that all runs smoothly on the restaurant floor; Finance Manager who looks after wages, budget, profit, forward planning; and, Public Relations Officer who is in charge of publicity, advertising and promoting the image of the restaurant.
Students are to complete 10 tasks, including investigating and reporting on the Melbourne restaurant industry; developing a detailed business plan; deciding and establishing the look, logo, colour scheme, menu and stationery for their business; creating a spreadsheet to show the repayment of the business loan; preparing a set of photos and images for advertising the restaurant; create a website that effectively promotes the restaurant; creating two promotional pieces; creating a video and/or audio promotion of their restaurant and use Producer to synchronise it with a slideshow; creating an Access database that can be used to efficiently run and manage the restaurant; and, design and create a user manual that will assist the office manager to use what they have created on an ongoing basis.
Teacher's Guide contains Curriculum Standards: Level 6 of the Victorian Essential Learning Standards and some information for teachers. There is also a link to examples of student work. Last updated 2006.
As you can see, this WebQuest contains some excellent HOTS for students to complete - with a messy problem to solve as well. That is the key to a GREAT WebQuest!

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Higher Order Thinking Skills: Useful Verbs, Sample Question Stems, Potential Activities & Products

by frances 7. January 2010 11:05

The following table has been taken (in part) from a website that is now not available. However, the information contained within this site is invaluable!!! so I have reproduced it here. It shows teachers the potential activities and products to introduce into their WebQuest which will produce Higher Order Thinking Skills - HOTS so highly recommended by the creators of the WebQuest concept - Prof. Bernie Dodge and Tom March.


Useful Verbs

Sample Question Stems

Potential activities and products
Which events could have happened...?
I ... happened, what might the ending have been?
How was this similar to...?
What was the underlying theme of...?
What do you see as other possible outcomes?
Why did ... changes occur?
Can you compare your ... with that presented in...?
Can you explain what must have happened when...?
How is ... similar to ...?
What are some of the problems of...?
Can you distinguish between...?
What were some of the motives behind...?
What was the turning point in the game?
What was the problem with...?
Design a questionnaire to gather information.
Write a commercial to sell a new product.
Conduct an investigation to produce information to support a view.
Make a flow chart to show the critical stages.
Construct a graph to illustrate selected information.
Make a jigsaw puzzle.
Make a family tree showing relationships.
Put on a play about the study area.
Write a biography of the study person.
Prepare a report about the area of study.
Arrange a party. Make all the arrangements and record the steps needed.
Review a work of art in terms of form, colour and texture.



Useful Verbs

Sample Question Stems

Potential activities and products
Can you design a ... to ...?
Why not compose a song about...?
Can you see a possible solution to...?
If you had access to all resources how would you deal with...?
Why don't you devise your own way to deal with...?
What would happen if...?
How many ways can you...?
Can you create new and unusual uses for...?
Can you write a new recipe for a tasty dish?
can you develop a proposal which would...
Invent a machine to do a specific task.
Design a building to house your study.
Create a new product. Give it a name and plan a marketing campaign.
Write about your feelings in relation to...
Write a TV show, play, puppet show, role play, song or pantomime about...?
Design a record, book, or magazine cover for...?
Make up a new language code and write material suing it.
Sell an idea.
Devise a way to...
Compose a rhythm or put new words to a known melody.



Useful Verbs

Sample Question Stems

Potential activities and products
Is there a better solution to...
Judge the value of...
Can you defend your position about...?
Do you think ... is a good or a bad thing?
How would you have handled...?
What changes to ... would you recommend?
Do you believe?
Are you a ... person?
How would you feel if...?
How effective are...?
What do you think about...?
Prepare a list of criteria to judge a ... show. Indicate priority and ratings.
Conduct a debate about an issue of special interest.
Make a booklet about 5 rules you see as important. Convince others.
Form a panel to discuss views, eg "Learning at School."
Write a letter to ... advising on changes needed at...
Write a half yearly report.
Prepare a case to present your view about...
This table is a great jumping point to working out how to incorporate Higher Order Thinking Skills into a WebQuest!

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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 School.com.au 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

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Reminders of our moral conscience
The Petrov Affair
My Business Rules
Pluto's planetary status