Constructivist theory: What is a WebQuest?

by frances 3. January 2010 22:16

Constructivist theory is an important underpinning concept when thinking about using or creating a WebQuest.

(Source: Constructivist Theory)


An important part of Constructivism is that the student will construct meaning especially if they are given the chance within a group to talk about their ideas. An excellent paper by Prof. George E. Hein, Lesley College. Massachusetts USA, [The Museum and the Needs of People] explains the Principles of Learning and lists the following:

"1. Learning is an active process in which the learner uses sensory input and constructs meaning out of it

2. People learn to learn as they learn: learning consists both of constructing meaning and constructing systems of meaning.

3. The crucial action of constructing meaning is mental: it happens in the mind. [Although with young children and even adults, hands-on activities help the mind].

4. Learning involves language: the language we use influences learning.

5. Learning is a social activity [

6. Learning is contextual [in a WebQuest, the problem has to be authentic]

7. One needs knowledge to learn: it is not possible to assimilate new knowledge without having some structure developed from previous knowledge to build on. The more we know, the more we can learn.

8. It takes time to learn: learning is not instantaneous.

9. Motivation is a key component in learning." (Constructivist Learning Theory)

ALL these elements are important in a WebQuest!


Constructivist Learning Theory by Prof. George E. Hein

Constructivist Theory

Constructivist Theory


University of Adelaide: Constructivist Theory of Learning

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What is a WebQuest?

by frances 8. December 2009 14:21 "We Let You Loan to Low Income Entrepreneurs".....Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.

Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend to unique entrepreneurs around the globe.

The people you see on Kiva's site are real individuals. When you browse entrepreneurs' profiles on Kiva, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else." will allow students to participate in micro-credit and carry on the work of Muhammad Yunus, the Noble Peace Prize winner. Or they can investigate Yunus' ideas on social business through his website.


If you are creating a WebQuest around Poverty, Economics, or Commerce consider using this Resource!

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In the Classroom

Southern Bluefin Tuna

by frances 27. October 2009 10:29

This issue is a "Hot" topic within the news at the moment and provides teachers with an outstanding start to a WebQuest.

The Commission for the Conservation of the Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT) 2008 Advice as cited by Dr. Campbell Davies CSIRO (ABC Oct 16 Fishing puts southern bluefin tuna on the brink)  "The 2008 advice from the CCSBT Scientific Committee (Commission of Conservation for Southern Bluefin Tuna) is that spawning biomass of SBT is likely to be less than 10 per cent of the unfished level. This level is below the level of many nationally and internationally recognised limit reference points for fisheries management." Commission is made up of Australia, New Zealand, Japan and other Asian countries with an interest in the fish. About 90 per cent of Australia's SBT comes from Port Lincoln in South Australia.

News Stories about the SBT:  
Crean backs Japan to police tuna industry (27th Oct 2009)

Industry anger at bluefin tuna cut (27th October 2009),25197,26264637-2702,00.html
Voice of America: 26th October
Quotas Cut as Scientists Warn that Southern Bluefin Tuna stocks close to collapse.
Pacific tuna industry says reduced quota raises illegal fishing

Australian Government: Australian Fisheries Management Authority: SBT Fishery (Map)
Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts
Perspectives that could be taken:
Port Lincoln Mayer Peter Davis
Fisheries Minister Tony Burke
Commissioner at CCSBT representing Australia
SBT Fisherman
CSIRO Scientist
This WebQuest could be covered in Science, Biology, Ecology, Geography, or even Economics! Students from Years 5 - 12 could explore this issue.
If you would like to create a WebQuest around this topic, consider using our free Short-cut WebQuest Authoring Tool (SWAT).  

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Ideas on how to use News topics as WebQuests

James Cook University and WebQuests

by frances 10. August 2009 18:03

On Friday, I gave a lecture to 3rd and 4th Year Student Teachers at James Cook University Cairns studying under Professor Neil Anderson.

It was a wonderful experience with enthusiastic students all ready to make a substantial WebQuest as part of their assignments in their course. It will be great to mentor them and have another lot of Australian WebQuests for other teachers to use.


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News & Events

Forgotten Whales

by frances 27. June 2009 14:26


(Source: IWC)

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has heard reports about the smallest cetaceans: Dolphins, porpoises and small whales from the WWF, the news report cited

The Australian Minister for the Environment, Peter Garratt, said to the IWC meeting in Portugal that Whales were worth more alive than dead as the Whale watching business was worth around $3Billion worldwide.

On the other hand, European countries are set to increase their whale quota - to that above the Japanese scientists!!

This is a typical scenario for a great WebQuest:

  • It involves a real life situation that is "messy" and involves Problem-Based Learning (PBL)
  • antagonistic yet legitimate views are held by different perspectives or roles
  • collaboration is required to obtain an outcome
  • emotional intelligence is used
  • Higher Order Thinking Skills of Analysis, Evaluation, Creativitiy [Synthesis] have to be used to work out a solution to this messy problem

I love the fact that you can bring real life and important events into the classroom while exploring the curriculum. In this case, the curriculum could be Ecology, Biology - particularly Diversity of Species, Political Sciences, Philosophy for Children (P4C), Values Education, Economics, or Geography.



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Ideas on how to use News topics as WebQuests

Devil in the Detail - Should we bother?

by frances 26. June 2009 15:27
This is a great website showing
  • the contagious cancer inflicting the Tasmanian Devils;
  • Cedric the first Devil to have immunity to several strains of this disease;
  • efforts to prevent extinction;
  • offers to sequence the Devil's genome from Dr. Vanessa Hayes,
  • and, lots more.

This would be a great topic for a WebQuest especially for those students who are interested in Biology, Ecology, or Molecular Biology.


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Ideas on how to use News topics as WebQuests

What is a "real" WebQuest?

by frances 20. June 2009 10:36

I have been coming across some really terrible "WebQuests" lately!

They have been mostly a series of web-based activities around a theme rather than a REAL WebQuest!

What is a REAL WebQuest?

Here are some pointers.........

  1. The WebQuest should incorporate Problem-based Learning (PBL). So there needs to be a messy, authentic problem to solve. This is usually in the form of a Big Question (Focus Question, Essential Question).
  2. It should incorporate Collaborative Learning Principles - group work.
  3. There needs to be roles or perspectives that reflect the society's values. For example, if the problem was around the big question: "Should the International Whaling Commission [IWC] ban Whaling?";
    the roles could be:
    • A Green Peace representative
    • A Japanese Scientist
    • An Indigenous representative, representing those Indigenous peoples whose tradition is to undertake whaling
    • A Whale Watching Entrepreneur who has developed a business around Whale Watching
    • An Historian or UN Lawyer who researches the past decisions around Whaling.
  4. These roles can be antagonistic [as the above example] - where different alliances are formed! But they are NOT to be research roles or reporting roles!

  5. The activities MUST promote Higher Order Thinking

  6. The scaffolding - Introduction, Task, Process, Resources, Evaluation, and Conclusion are present.

  7. The Conclusion calls for further action on the part of the student.

Below is the Criteria that WebQuest Direct uses to provide an Educational Rating for each WebQuest they review:


Section Content Score/135
Home Page
This is to be like a book cover – intriguing and interesting.

There should be a hook here to introduce the students to the big question (has to be an open ended question). 

Images are important here and throughout the WebQuest to enhance visual literacy.
Introduction Catchy Title

Introduces a Real Messy Problem to be solved.
Task Point Form summarising the tasks that the students have to achieve

Background for Everyone

Higher Order Thinking Skill Activities present
Process Interesting and complex (messy) and real problem to solve

Higher Order Thinking Skill (HOTS) Activities present: This is essential!
o One
o Two
o Three
o More
 Perspectives or Roles present – hopefully antagonistic and reflecting the “real” world. These roles should NOT be research roles only.

Team work – Cooperative Learning

Steps showing students what they have to do – clear, concise, sequential,
/35 (of which 15 points will be assigned to the Messy Problem and 15 points
will be assigned
to HOTS)
Resources Relevant to student age, readability, and, role


Quirky – giving students different perspectives
Evaluation Rubric showing all the tasks that the students are to undertake for assessment

Optional: peer assessment
Optional: self assessment
Conclusion Encourages local and/or further action – another activity that is to be assessed.

Real World Feedback

Reflection of Learning

Is NOT a motherhood statement or platitude eg. “Congratulations, you now know about....”
Teacher's Guide Learners – Age, State, Country,
Curriculum Standards Addressed – listed and linked

Duration – number of lessons (if below 4 lessons, this will be considered a research assignment only – as not enough time has been given to Higher Order Thinking Skills).

Process – Lesson Plans (or, any ideas for other teachers to consider)

Resources – any resources that could be used by the teacher in preparation for this unit of work

Visual Impact/Use of Audio Appropriate Template/Design used on Home Page and subsequent pages

Images or graphics used to aid students

Layout and Design – font size appropriate to target audience; colour of font; navigation; placement of images
 Use of audio especially for students in Pre-school or early Primary/Elementary years.
Use of Technology Technology Skills developed or Technology used eg. Kids Pix; iMovie; Zoomerang; Kahootz; animation; PowerPoint; Wiki; podcast; Inspiration; Mind Mapping; Venn Diagrams /10
  Total Score /135

 Star Rating 

<10 – 19 points = 0 star

20 points = 0.5 star

30 points = 1 star

40 points = 1.5 stars

50 points = 2 stars

60 points = 2.5 stars

70 points = 3 stars

80 points = 3.5 stars

90 points = 4 stars

100 points = 4.5 stars

110 points + = 5 stars

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What is a WebQuest?

Adding Podcasts to WebQuests

by frances 10. June 2009 14:49


Adding any technology tools, videos, wikis, blogs, and podcasts enhances student learning! These are the 21st Century tools of Education!

The Department of Education, Western Australia, has a wonderful page full of information and help about: 

  • how to create a podcast,
  • the educational value of podcasts,
  • where to go to get educational podcasts,
  • how to get started,
  • where to host it for free, and,
  • more importantly examples of how teachers are using them in the classroom.

Worth a good read!

Two other outstanding websites are: 

  • University & College Podcasts - Free Educational Podcasts: This website contains links to the podcasts of lectures of numerous Universities around the world from Harvard to Oxford, to Stanford to UCLA.
  • Podcast Directory: This is a huge directory of Podcasts that can be used within the Classroom! This site allows you to Add a Podcast, Remove a Podcast, and, Search for Podcast by country or topic. Teachers would need to use this directory themselves as there is inappropriate categories listed.

All WebQuests can use Podcasts within their Resources area. As teachers, you can create your own podcast, host it on a free website, and then link to it within a WebQuest. This allows students to listen to the information on their MP3 players at their leisure. Great for students with enhanced Audio intelligence. 

Enjoy Podcasting!

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Videos, Wikis, Blogs, Podcasts

Technology empowers differentiated instruction

by frances 10. April 2009 08:41

eSchool News (Monday Feb 02, 2009),  Technology empowers differentiated instruction  ISTE webinar offers new strategies for ensuring that all students learn by tailoring instruction to their abilities, needs, and interests By Meris Stansbury, Associate Editor.

This is a great article to read from two Primary/Elementary Educators, Grace Smith and Stephanie Throne, authors of the book Differentiating Instruction with Technology in K-5 Classrooms and the soon-to-be-published Differentiating Instruction with Technology in Middle School Classrooms.  



Smith and Throne provide lots of practical ways teachers can engage their students including:

  • Tic-Tac-Toe Board with various activities that students can choose from
  • "I-Search" (see I-Search Unit , and, I-Search Curriculum Unit ); or
    • Webbe (where students make their own web books
  • WebQuests,
  • interest centres
  • flexible groups,
  • literature circles,
  • Role Audience Format Topic Tech (R.A.F.T.T.),
  • Jigsaw, or
  • computer software.

For WebQuests, "Working collaboratively, students use web research tools to investigate a teacher-designed topic of interest. They can also work collaboratively and use technology to create, write, publish, and present their information to their peers," said Throne in explaining WebQuests. WebQuests challenge students to solve a problem or answer a complex question with several possible answers. In the process, students typically learn about several different subject areas."

"Above all, DI [Differentiated Instruction] should be used to promote 21st-century skills," said Smith. "This includes digital-age literacy, inventive thinking, effective communication, and high productivity. A mastery of these skills will lead to student achievement." Both authors said technology is a great choice to consider for DI, because it helps to personalize instruction, enhances learning with multimedia components, can help students construct new knowledge, and motivates students with their work.

Other websites referenced of Interest:

1. Everything DI

2. Dare to Differentiate: Choice Boards


4. WebQuest Maker [Limited functions!]

5. Reading Strategies (RAFTT)


It all seems a lot of work - but with worthwhile results!!!

From my experience, students who are provided with WebQuests [as well as these other DI techniques] are given real skills and are engaged in their learning process.

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Article Review

2009 National WebQuest Direct Competition

by frances 25. March 2009 12:29
The 2009 National WebQuest Direct Competition is underway!
Any WebQuests created in 2009 are eligible to enter this competition.

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News & Events


<<  October 2015  >>

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Tag cloud

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