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September 2, 2015 | 18th Elul 5775

Technology in the Classroom: WebQuests - No. II, 5766

Al sh'loshah d'varim haolam omed:
Al haTorah, v'al ha-avodah, v'al g'milut chasadim.

The world depends on three things:
on Torah, on worship and on loving deeds.
- Pirkei Avot 1:2

This year each issue of V’shinantam will be on a different topic in the area of technology and written by our Educational Technology Specialist, Renée Rittner. Renee received her Master's of Education in educational technology from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She also holds her MSW, MAJE, and MAJS degrees. She is currently the Director of Education at Temple Israel of Greater Miami.

V’shinantam is organized around the three pillars of Torah, Avodah, and G’milut Chasadim. In the Torah section you will find an overview of the topic, in Avodah, applications for your classroom, and in G’milut Chasadim additional resources.

What is a WebQuest?

In a WebQuest a teacher designs a constructivist1learning environment for students, guiding student learning by providing specific, content-rich resources (usually Web sites) for students to explore. Not all resources for a WebQuest must be electronic, though typically the majority will be.

The teacher designs a quest that allows the student to delve into an issue and refine their own understanding. Instead of merely telling the student to find information on a given topic, the teacher focuses the student’s exploration on a collection of Web-based sources. Typically WebQuests are designed so multiple students complete a project by working on a series of interrelated tasks together (cooperative learning). Within the WebQuest, the role of each student is defined. For example, if the task were for the students to be members of a synagogue search committee looking at what the congregation would like in a new rabbi, each student would take on the role of a specific member of that committee with a specific viewpoint. Each student would work from a different perspective towards the collaborative goal of finding a new rabbi.

Even though most WebQuests are cooperative, an independent learner can also experience a WebQuest and the WebQuest format. Furthermore, although you may use a template to design a WebQuest (making it attractive and easy to use), you can design your own in a word processing or other program. In the Avodahsection of this issue, there is a sample of a WebQuest, created using a simple word processor and then converted for your learning experience. This WebQuest will teach you the teacher how to create your own WebQuest. It follows the flow of a typical WebQuest, but does not use a WebQuest Internet Web page design template. It was produced without needing any special computer programming skills to show that most any teacher can create his or her own WebQuest. Through the WebQuest you will be able to see how cooperative learning is typically used in the process when you research examples of group WebQuests. The specific projects (aside from the main WebQuest) are used as examples of what you might do with your students in the WebQuest that you design.

1 Constructivist theory states that students construct their own knowledge and meanings through their experiences. All teaching and learning is focused on the learner and how they interpret the meaning of their learning experiences, not on the subject material. There is no knowledge outside that which is experienced and understood by the learners.

A WebQuest for Teachers Who Want to Learn to Create WebQuests

B’reishit : A WebQuest to Create a WebQuest
A WebQuest for reader’s of V’shinantam the Union for Reform Judaism’s National Teacher’s Newsletter to learn about how to create an interactive, Internet-based, constructivist learning environment for their religious school classroom.

Oh my goodness, Mrs. Mensch just rolled in three computers into my room. She said I need to create lessons that are energizing, interactive, cooperative, inquiry-based and creative. My students need to be able to use the computers (that she says cost a fortune) and our newly installed wireless Internet for learning that is meaningful. The lessons need to provide my students an way to explore beyond the walls of my classroom and allow them to come together as a group to tackle a problem. Whatever should I do?

Your mission is to design a Web-based lesson that you will be able to use in your classroom using the WebQuest model. You will use the method of creating WebQuests as defined and designed by Bernie Dodge, but will also be able to adapt the look of the WebQuest based on your own experience or lack of experience with HTML or word processing.

This WebQuest is designed for an individual teacher to work through and complete the final project.

Part #1: What is a WebQuest?
Design a brochure advertising a WebQuest and its benefits. Make sure that you answer these questions:

  1. What is a WebQuest?
  2. What benefits are there for student learning, teacher planning and curriculum in general?
  3. What are the building blocks of the WebQuest?

Explore the following Web sites to design your brochure:

Part #2: What Does a Good WebQuest Look Like?
The WebQuest page at San Diego State University contains a section called “WebQuest Training Materials,” which contains much helpful information, including Bernie Dodge’s WebQuest, “A WebQuest about WebQuests.” In this step you will examine one version of this WebQuest as well as a rubric for evaluating WebQuests. This will help you learn to look at WebQuests with a critical eye. You will also use the searchable database to find WebQuests of interest to you and evaluate them using the rubric. After evaluating the WebQuests, create a personal annotated webliography of the WebQuests that you evaluate including your critique of them.

Use the following Web sites for your exploration and evaluation experience:

Part #3: How Will I Design My Own WebQuest?
1. Brainstorming

Create an outline, idea web, or storyboard of your WebQuest using word processing or mapping software using the process listed below:

a. The topic

Evaluate your class curriculum and select a lesson(s) that you would like to improve, that is suited to Web-based research, that requires deep understanding and comprehension, and that you would be interested in developing into a WebQuest. Use these sites to help you decide on a topic.

b. The task

Define the task at hand. What problem will the students tackle in the WebQuest? What project would assess student understanding? Outline what the students will need to be able to do and understand to be able to create the final project. List the steps it will take for them to go through the process. Check this site for guidelines on choosing a task.

c. The process

Search for and evaluate the Web sites that you will guide your students to use for the WebQuest. Define the roles of each student in the group, as well as which sites are appropriate for which role. These sites can help you choose Web sites for your students to explore.

2. Creating the WebQuest

a. Decide on the layout/template/design for your WebQuest and begin to create it. Bernie Dodge created a design pattern guide to assist teachers in planning the best format for their WebQuest. There are also links to templates that fit each design pattern. Place your WebQuest materials into the appropriate section of the chosen design template (or in your word processor following the general WebQuest formula).

b. Create a rubric to evaluate the students’ projects and to assist the students in understanding what they are expected to create. These sites will help you.

c. Flesh out the process pages for your WebQuest. This Web site provides guidance on helping students work together to complete a task.

d. Use the following Web sites to revise your WebQuest.

3. Evaluating the WebQuest
Evaluate your own WebQuest and should have a colleague do so as well using the rubric on this site

Mazal tov ! You have created a WebQuest, which is one way to integrate technology into your classroom. Now you must publish your WebQuest to the World Wide Web or save it to disk and run it on a computer via the disk. The possibilities for where to publish it include the congregation’s or school’s Web site (as is done here), personal Web space, free Web space or through an education site with a database to store WebQuests. See the appendix in the G’milut Chasadim section below for more information about how to post your WebQuest.

Do not forget to use what you have created with your students, evaluate the lesson and continue to revise your WebQuest (as well as keeping the links to Internet sites up to date). Bernie Dodge wrote that the first WebQuest you create takes the longest and is the hardest. After this first attempt, it will be much easier for you. Enjoy creating the WebQuests and watching your students learn through them.

Since 1995 teachers have been embracing the use of WebQuests for student learning throughout the world. The databases and information on them is vast. You only need to go to your favorite search engine, type in WebQuest: “topic of your choice” and you will find some information. There are other ways to teach using the Internet, but the WebQuest is one of the most developed and well-known. In the next issue of V’shinantam we will discuss another use of the Internet in your class: electronic student portfolios.

If you’d like a disk with a version of this WebQuest using a WebQuest format, please contact Renée Rittner at

For more information about WebQuests visit these sites:

The WebQuest Page at San Diego State

Kathy Schrock’s Guide for Teachers

For a similar WebQuest about Creating WebQuest with a cooperative learning experience included:

For information on how to adapt existing WebQuests to your needs:

For more information about constructivist learning theory:

Constructivism – Martin Ryder, University of Colorado at Denver School of Education

For more information on cooperative learning theory:

The Cooperative Learning Center at the University of Minnesota

For a similar instructional method to the WebQuest – Trackstar;jsessionid=CE91FB796BA522CFBFEC9F2A37E8A205

Appendix: Saving and Using your WebQuest

In order to use your WebQuest, you have several options. You can create your document in a word processing or presentation software program (like PowerPoint) with hyperlinked text—that is, so that clicking on certain words or phrases in the document automatically takes the user to a specified location on the Internet. and save it to your computer. Then you can distribute it via e-mail or on disk. Students should view the document on a computer with a live Internet connection.

Posting your WebQuest on the Internet allows students to access it from remote sites and makes your work available to other teachers. On the other hand, posting to a non-secure site could make your WebQuest susceptible to pranks or vandalism. (It is wise to anticipate that many of your students may be more Internet-savvy than you.) Also, posting to a publicly available site means you must be especially careful in following copyright rules for materials used on the site.

There are a few different ways to post WebQuests on the Internet. You may be able to follow the online instructions from the Web space provider that allow you to log on and transfer your information. In other cases you need Web space and software that allows you to use file transfer protocol (FTP) to save your WebQuest onto your Web space. If you are lucky, there may be someone designated to work on IT at your congregation who can help you upload the materials.

One of the easiest ways to develop and post to the Web is to use a WebQuest generator. Using a generator is as easy as typing in the answers to guided questions. No knowledge of HTML is needed. You fill in the blanks and the generator will format the WebQuest for you. Once you click the button to “publish” or “create” your WebQuest, the WebQuest will be fully usable from the World Wide Web, and it will have its own Web address that you can share. QuestGarden a WebQuest generator for educators that also provides Web hosting for your WebQuest. All WebQuests composed at the site are compiled into a searchable database. Currently the site is free of charge, though a membership fee will be asked for in the future. If you use the site during its trial period your newly created WebQuest will have a permanent home even if you do not pay in the future. On the other hand, once the site goes to a pay site, you will be able to access your WebQuest, but you will no longer be able to modify broken Web links without paying.

If you have knowledge of HTML, then using one of the template formats found online (for example at is a great option. Download your chosen template. Fill in the template using HTML for links, images, etc. and save the revised pages to your hard drive and backup disk. A student would then open the WebQuest start file from disk and run the WebQuest on any computer with a live Internet connection. If you have a flair for creating Web pages from scratch or using Web page publishers to assist you in doing so, you may choose that option as well.

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