WebQuests are a lesson format developed by Dr. Bernie Dodge from San Diego State University. One of the main characteristics of a WebQuest is that it is an inquiry-based curriculum unit. With inquiry-based activities, students don't just memorize facts and retell them to the teacher. They are expected to take the information that they interact with and transform it to create new information that has meaning to them. With WebQuests, students create meaningful projects that they share with others via oral presentations, posting to the web, etc.
WebQuests are also different from other Web-based lessons and experiences in that they focus on an engaging and achievable task. WebQuest tasks go beyond simply answering questions; they require higher order thinking skills such as creativity, analysis, synthesis, judgment and problem solving. The task in a WebQuest can be almost anything. For example, students might be asked to design a monument representing one of the branches of government; or they might be asked to write, perform and record an old-time radio play.
Another key component of WebQuests is that the links students use are pre-selected by the WebQuest writer. The focus is on using information rather than looking for it. Many teachers avoid using Internet resources with their students because of how long it can take students to actually find useful information when searching the Web. They also worry about students accessing inappropriate sites. WebQuests avoid these roadblocks because the Internet resources are identified and evaluated by the WebQuest designer ahead of time. This eliminates the need for wasteful searching by the students. WebQuests provide teachers with a structured environment where they can integrate technology into the curriculum and make it beneficial to the students.