Webquest – Web 'Research'

Web Enquiries

The internet is a great resource for information.  Perhaps though, it is too great.  There is so much out there.  It is so much easier, for students, to cut and paste text, than to read, assess and use it in an argument.  This means that many ‘internet’ lessons descend into historical sausage factories – disinterested students stuffing raw history at best, or unprocessed rubbish at worst, into Power Point presentations or Word documents.  The aim of this section is for us to plan lessons that avoid these problems.  This section deals with

  • Webquests; and
  • the Big 6.


You’re taking part in a webquest right now.  They’re a scenario, posted as a webpage, that allow students to use the internet in a guided way to make enquries.  They can be relatively closed ones, like this one, or more open ones, in which students can choose which resources they use, or what approach they should take in completing the task.

searchBriefly read the section about the ‘essential’ features of a webquest from the website webquests.org.   What advantages or disadvantes can you see in devising or using webquests for teaching and learning history?  Record your thoughts and those of your colleagues in the space provided in your document.  Briefly note in your Word document your first impressions of what webquests are.

Why do them?

The “Concept to Classroom” website claims that webquests will help prepare students for tomorrow’s “knowledge economy” world, in that it will help them “grapple with ambiguity”, so that they can. They will need to commit themselves to a lifelong process of learning, honoring multiple perspectives and evaluating information before acting on it”


What sort of topics lend themselves to webquests?

The “Concept to Classroom” website claims that “The best use of the Webquest format is for topics that are less well-defined — tasks that invite creativity and problems with several possible solutions. They can address open-ended questions like:

  • What kinds of people were most likely to survive the sinking of the Titanic? Why?
  • What was it like to live during the American Gold Rush?”


Task(2)Take a look at some example webquests from this American website (the history ones are under social sciences – secondary).  Discus with your colleagues the following questions:  What kinds of topics do the history webquests address?   Do they offer opportunities for students to develop the kinds of skills and abilities mentioned above?  How far do they address historical skills?  Record the points made in your discussion in the space provided.

The Big Six.

According to the Big6.com website, the Big Six is “the most widely-known and widely-used approach to teaching information and technology skills in the world. The Big6 is an information and technology literacy model and curriculum, implemented in thousands of schools […]. Some people call the Big6 an information problem-solving strategy because with the Big6, students are able to handle any problem, assignment, decision or task.

Task(2)Take a look at the section for older students of the Big6 website, which is here.   Explore the different stages, but pay close attention to the sections 4 and 5 on using and synthesising information.  Discuss with your colleagues the kind of work you would need to do to make these instructions useful for historical enquiries.  Is the ICT adding anything here?  Record your thinking in the space provided in the document.

You’ve picked up quite a lot to think about, and perhaps some ideas for your “cascading” discussions with the head.  However, you’re not really any closer to coming up with a lesson for year 9.  Can you think of any lessons or activities that might draw on what you’ve already learned, which you could use in teaching your year 9 lesson?

Now you have completed this section click on the link to move on to the section on using standard applications in teaching history.

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