The use of WebQuests

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WebQuests promote a way of teaching in which experiential learning and project work have a main role. Trainers do not provide trainees with the answers but help them to research and identify right questions and find the best answers.

In addition, the main benefit of the WebQuest learning structure is that trainees use their prior knowledge and work collaboratively to complete a given task. Also, the WebQuest approach is beneficial for trainees since this does not involve just research tasks. It supports trainees to develop their individual thoughts and form them more into refined knowledge, based on the access to online information.
Competences addressed
The use of WebQuests aims to enhance trainees’:

·       critical thinking skills (comparing, classifying, inducing, deducing, analysing errors, constructing support, abstraction, analysing perspectives)
·       communication, presentation skills
·       team work, social skills (working in small collaborative groups)
·       project-based learning
·       IT competences and access to online resources
·       self-empowerment
·       greater concentration to a certain topic
As more trainees gain access to the Internet, there is growing pressure on trainers to help their trainees use this valuable resource as an effective study tool. Deeper engagement of trainees can be achieved through this method which can be used not only in language teaching but also transdisciplinary.
Group Size
The ideal number for using WebQuests in language teaching for achieving the best results can vary from 10 to 25 trainees, divided in smaller groups of 2-4, or it can be also completed individually by each trainer. In the later case, smaller groups than 10 can also use it.
Time Required
The timeframe required for implementing WebQuests should be at least two sessions of 2 -3 hours each. Nevertheless, WebQuests can be implemented in two ways: short or long term, long term in this case referring to more consecutive classes.
Laptops, smartphones, internet access, flip chart papers, pens, post its.
In case you are not yet familiar with WebQuests, a brief introduction of the WebQuest structure can be found below. To get you started, in Annex 1- HANDOUT - Teacher’s guide and evaluation you can find one WebQuest example.
  • Structure of a WebQuest
  • WebQuests have now been around long enough for them to have a clearly defined structure. However, this structure - whilst being unofficially recognised as the definitive schema for these activities - should only really be taken as a basic guideline and you should design your WebQuests to suit the needs and learning styles of your trainees. There are usually four main sections to a WebQuest:

    • The Introduction stage is normally used to introduce the overall theme of the WebQuest. It involves giving background information on the topic and, in the language learning context, often introduces key vocabulary and concepts which trainees will need to understand in order to complete the tasks involved.

    • The Task section of the WebQuest explains clearly and precisely what the trainees will have to do as they work their way through the WebQuest. The task should be highly motivating and intrinsically interesting for the trainees, and should be firmly anchored in a real-life situation. This often involves the trainees in a certain amount of role-play within a given scenario (e.g. you are the school social organiser and have to organise a trip for your class to an English-speaking country...)

    • The Process stage of a WebQuest guides the trainees through a set of activities and research tasks, using a set of predefined resources. These resources - in the case of a WebQuest - are predominately web-based, and are usually presented in clickable form within the task document (it's important to bear in mind that it's much easier to click on a link than to type it in with any degree of accuracy). In the case of a language-based WebQuest, the Process stage of the WebQuest may introduce (or recycle) lexical areas or grammatical points which are essential to the Task. The Process stage of the WebQuest will usually have one (or sometimes several) 'products' which the trainees are expected to present at the end. These 'products' will often form the basis of the Evaluation stage.

    • The Evaluation stage can involve trainees in self-evaluation, comparing and contrasting what they have produced with other trainees and giving feedback on what they feel they have learnt, achieved, etc. It will also involve trainer evaluation of the same, and good WebQuests will give guidance to the trainer for this particular part of the process.
  • Producing a WebQuest
  • Producing a WebQuest does not entail any detailed technical knowledge. It is extremely easy to produce a professional-looking and workable design using any modern word processor. The skillset for producing a WebQuest might be defined as follows:

    Research skills
    It is essential to be able to search the Internet and quickly and accurately find resources. We won’t be talking within this document about the finer points of using search engines and subject guides, but a good reading of their respective help pages will dramatically improve the accuracy of any search.

    Analytical skills
    It is also very important to be able to cast a critical eye over the resources you do find when searching. Make sure to visit any website you are considering using thoroughly before basing any activity around it.

    Word processing skills
    You will also need to be able to use a word processor to combine text, images and weblinks into a finished document. This particular set of skills can be acquired in approximately ten minutes.

    Useful tips:
    Before sitting down to plan a WebQuest, it is always worth searching around on the Internet to see if someone has produced something which might fit your needs. There are plenty of WebQuest 'repositories' on the Internet, so there is little point in reinventing the wheel. Use a search engine to have a good look round before you do the hard work yourself.

    In the event that you have to design and produce your own WebQuest, you can consult the Train of Trainers Manual, developed within the T-Challenge project which offers a detailed guideline in this respect.

    Essentially, the following steps should get you started:
    • Define the topic area and the 'end product' (Introduction and Task phases)
    • Find web resources which are suitable content-wise and linguistically (Resources)
    • Group the resources according to stages of the Task
    • Structure the Process - tasks, resources, lexical areas, grammatical areas
    • Design the Evaluation stages and concepts

    Suggested questions which can be used for trainees to consider in case you apply self-evaluation, may include:
    ·       How effective was my contribution to the group work?
    ·       What did I learn about the topics we researched?
    ·       How did my English improve doing this project?
    ·       What did I learn about using the Internet?

    Once these tasks have been performed, the WebQuest can be put together as a simple word-processed document (add images and links to all the resources trainees will need) or as a webpage.
WebQuests can be implemented on short or long term. Shorter WebQuests can be used to complement coursebook materials - over one or a small number of classes - whilst long-term WebQuests are perhaps more suited to longer courses. In breaking down a WebQuest for use over several class sessions, ensure that your trainees are aware of what they are doing - of why they are doing it, and of the benefits to them.

No matter how you decide to work with WebQuests, you should find that well-chosen and motivating topics, coupled with up-to-date websites and access to the wealth of material on the Internet will provide lively, interesting and learning-rich classes for you and your trainees.
  • Exercise 1

  • Use the following webquest in your classroom to improve language skills of your trainees:

    WebQuest: The year 2008 magazine

    Topic: News and news stories

    The aims of this WebQuest are:

    • To encourage trainees to read authentic newspaper articles on the Internet
    • To familiarise trainees with the BBC Archives news site, and to encourage them to return
    • To encourage trainees to use new vocabulary from these articles in their own writing
    • To practise article writing skills
    • To practise oral presentation skills
    • To encourage small collaborative group work
    • To produce a tangible product (‘The Year 2008’ magazine) to show other groups


    Level: From upper-intermediate level.

    This WebQuest is especially suitable for exam preparation classes, where trainees need to be able to write brief newspaper articles, summaries of new events, or to do short oral presentations.


    This WebQuest is based around the BBC Learning English News archive. The stories in the archive are in both text and audio format. This WebQuest will involve trainees in reading and or listening to articles from the BBC News archives, orally presenting a summary of two news articles each, writing two articles each and together producing a magazine called ‘The Year 2008’.

    • Procedure

      • Take a few example Sunday newspaper supplement magazines to class. Ask your trainees what they are, and if they read them. Which ones do they read?

      • Explain to your trainees that they are going to work in small groups of 3 people to produce a Sunday supplement- type magazine, which will be called ‘The Year 2008’. The magazine will consist of a number of articles of important events from 2008. They will use the BBC News Archive website to find articles from 2008.
    • Process1

      • Put the trainees in pairs for this activity.
      Tell them to think back over the year 2008. What important things happened in the news? Make a list of three important events that happened in 2008, and compare with a partner. Have you chosen any of the same events?

      • Put the trainees in groups of 3, and direct them to the BBC News site archives for 2008.
      Choose two important news stories from the BBC News site for the given categories. By clicking on each story’s headline is it possible to read a bit more about them.
    • Process2

      • Assign each group members a letter: A, B or C, and ensure they understand that they each need to
      choose two articles to go with the following categories:
      Trainee A - politics, health
      Trainee B - sport, space exploration
      Trainee C - business, crime
      • Encourage the trainees to write a short summary in their own words, using at least three key words from the bottom of the article.
      • Trainees are going to present their four news story summaries to an editorial board. The editorial board is another group in the class. Give them plenty of time to first write their short summaries, and  then to practise giving their summaries verbally, before presenting it to the editorial board. The editorial board must approve one news story per category.
    • Process3

      • Trainees write one article of 200 to 250 words for each of their categories. Help them with language as appropriate, and remind them that they can find out more by clicking on ‘Listen to the story’, or on ‘Read more about this story’ at the bottom of the article, and to include their three key words in each article.
      • Encourage group members to give each other feedback on their articles.
      • Help with rewriting and correcting.
      • You may point your trainees to sites where they can find free photos or illustrations on the Internet which they can use to illustrate their articles. Some suggestions are: Unsplash (, Pixabay (
    • Process4

      • Trainees need to edit and produce ‘The Year 2008’ magazine in the same groups of 3.
      • Put all the magazines around the class, and ask trainees to look at the others groups’ magazines. Conduct open class feedback on the magazines: Which articles appeared in more than one magazine? What differences in style and layout were there?
      • You may decide to award a ‘Journalist’s Prize’ to each of the magazines, using categories such as: The best illustrated; The most original layout and design; The longest articles; The most colourful; etc. Ensure that each magazine receives a ‘prize’ for something!
    • Questions to reflect on at the end of the activity

      • Did your trainees enjoy the activity?
      • Did the use of WebQuests improve article writing skills of your trainees?
      • Are your trainees feeling more confident related to the structure of an article, language which needs to be used within?
      • Did your trainees improve their skills/knowledge related to the style of an article?
      • Did they become more critical in relation to what they have found in the news, or they just took everything they’ve found for granted, as it is? (improved their critical thinking skills)

      Try to develop a new webquest, aiming at developing some other abilities within language competences (communication, use of grammar, etc) having in focus the variety of activities that could make the whole experience as engaging as possible (including the production of e.g. infographics, etc, related to a given topic e.g. Circular economy, artificial intelligence, etc)

  • Exercise 2
  • As you completed the 1st Exercise, where you had the chance to implement an already developed WebQuest with your learners, reflect on the following. Make sure to put your ideas to paper, in order to be able to use it in the future:

    • Apart from improving language skills (reading, article writing, grammar, etc.) did your learners develop other skills along the process of completing the WebQuest? If yes, what are those skills (digital skills, presentation skills, etc.)?
    • Did the self-esteem of your learners improve throughout the activity? Did they manage to feel comfortable in their roles? How did you help them in overcoming possible barriers, if any?