WebQuest: Using WWW and interactive simulation games in the classroom

Corrina Perrone, Alexander Repenning, David Clark


The World Wide Web is widely considered a successful new media for communication of ideas, a hotbed for commerce, and, more quietly, a new research media that can bring hundreds of gigabytes of useful information to classrooms around the world. However, without a structuring mechanism that allows focus on specific learning domains, the usefulness of the WWW to students is questionable.
The huge information "cyberspace" is, to our children, more like having 500 channels of TV. Surfing the WWW is largely a passive consumer activity, multimedia and java applets notwithstanding. We have found that the effectiveness of the WWW as a learning tool can be significantly increased by combining it with constructive tools. This paper presents WebQuest, a system combining the WWW with the notion of an interactive quest game. Using WebQuest, students not only read information on the WWW, but learn to think critically about it as they use it to construct educational simulation games about the themes of their research. They set up complex worlds containing interesting objects obtained by navigating tricky obstacles and landscapes. These objects are needed to solve a quest, or go on to a new level. This approach offers several learning opportunities to students using the World Wide Web. Students can be players or authors of quest games. As players, students learn by finding websites and forming answers to questions to acquire important objects needed to progress through and finish the game. Authors learn by creating the worlds, formulating challenging yet solvable questions, and providing (or not) helpful hints and clues to lead players to sites on the web that will answer the questions. Both players and authors use the quest game-either by constructing or by playing-to focus their research on the web.

Used by multiple groups in the same classroom, a dialog is started between authors and players, which facilitates reflective learning. Players help authors to understand what works and what doesn't in a learning game; how much information should be given in a clue, which questions are good or bad, and perhaps provide new topic-related websites. In this paper, WebQuest is described, the roles of teachers and students in the classroom are outlined, and we present our initial classroom tests with middle school, high school, and undergraduate students. We conclude with a description of WebQuest's future development.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v1i5.493

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