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Webquests as a Teaching Tool

            Old school educators cringe at the thought of using computers in classrooms. However, by refusing to employ technology centered learning, teachers cheat students of skills needed in life and a wealth of information about a vast array of topics. To comprehend a student's world and frame of reference, educators must become familiar with what the Internet has to offer, educational or not. Professor Bernie Dodge developed a way for teachers to educate themselves while designing interactive, structured lesson plans. He combined learning with basic computer operation and Web surfing, and called it a Webquest.
             Teachers and parents realize that not all information on the Web is suitable for youngsters, but teachers must dispel some myths before fully utilizing the Internet. The first myth is the Web as simply a huge encyclopedia. Encyclopedias are organized, researched, and written by professionals. The Web is chaotic, full of opinions, and information can come from anywhere, more like real life. The second myth, the Web as an information superhighway, is a small part of its function. The Web is people and ideas but more importantly, a way of sharing. The third myth that teachers must address cannot be ignored because it's partly true: the Web is full of useless garbage. This is the reason for teachers to become familiar with the Webquest format, to distinguish between credible and illogical sites for students.
             Webquests are powerful in affecting student cooperation and motivation as well as development of thinking and problem solving skills. Webquests start with a central question, students must understand and draw on problem solving skills and information the teacher has selected. Relevant tasks are authentic and furnish motivation to join a community of learners researching the issue. Next, Webquests utilize real resources. Interactive computers are more engaging, and thus motivating, then old books, outdated encyclopedias, and biased texts.

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