Rethinking the WebQuest Taskonomy:
A New Taxonomy of Authentic Constructivist Tasks

A conversation on Tapped In, April 23, 2008

Bernie Dodge, PhD, Department of Educational Technology, San Diego State University


BJB2: Please tell the group where you are located and what experience you've had with webquests

ElizabethC: I'm in CT. I have written a couple of webquests, and had my class do them.

RitaZ: Im Rita Zeinstejer, a proud Webhead..., an EFL teacher and Multimedia Coordinator in Rosario, Argentina.

VanessaGst6: Hello, I'm in Colorado, I'm an SDSU alum (hi Bernie)

BernieD: I'm Bernie Dodge in San Diego and I've had some exposure to WebQuests

BJB2 winks at Bernie

JenniferO: Virginia and I have very little experience with webquests but very interested!

VanessaGst6: and have some exposure to Webquests :)

AnaliaD: hi, I'm in argentina, working with Rita on a MM project

RitaZ: I am organizing the MM area in my place and including your successful venture, Bernie ;-)

ColetteC: I am from Oregon and have used webquests in classroom but not for awhile

FernandaR: Fernanda in Portugal, I have created some webquests and still very interested

JenniferO: Portugal! that is where my family is from...welcome!!

BernieD: Kathleen? Christy?

JeffC just read an article in Edutopia about a school district using Webquests to move beyond NCLB... one of the Dozen Educators... anyhow... I'm Jeff Cooper, in Forest Grove Oregon and on Helpdesk here.

BernieD: Got a URL for that article, Jeff?

FernandaR: hi, Jennifer, where from?

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RitaZ hugs David welcome

DavidW hugs Rita

DavidW: Hola, Rita

BernieD waves to David. I told you I'd be back.

DavidW waves to Bernie

ChristyC joined the room.

DavidW: I'm sure we all appreciate that

BJB2 hands the virtual floor over to Bernie

RitaZ: hola, David, tanto tiempo

BernieD: OK... thanks, BJ.

BernieD: This is a very special Tapped In for me, as I'm hoping to learn again from the questions and feedback I get from people like you all.

BernieD: This time I have some ideas that are only partly-baked and I'm eager to see how they fly when I try to explain them.

BernieD: This session is going to be jammed packed, and I'm assuming that everyone here already has some familiarity with the WebQuest model. There will simply not be any time to handle questions like "What the heck IS a WebQuest, anyway?".

RitaZ: great to be your guinea pig, Bernie ;-)

ColetteC: fine :)

BernieD: Since the days of the first WebQuests, the hardest challenge I've faced with my own students is to help them see ways of engaging higher level thinking skills. Many of the early WebQuests were simply worksheets on the web or scavenger hunts in which learners looked for a single right answer to a number of questions. Another large number of WebQuests were those that presented some web links and then asked learners to read them and turn them into a Powerpoint presentation. That was summarizing or retelling, not engaging higher levels of thinking.

AnaliaD o))

JenniferO: sounds good!

BernieD: The problem is that most of us weren't taught this way, and student teachers go out and witness classrooms that are mostly about remembering facts, mastering procedures, and preparing for high stakes tests. They don't often get to see constructivist teaching with genuine creativity, judgment, analysis or problem solving in action.

BernieD: So it's no wonder that so many WebQuests were about factual recall, summarizing, and looking for a single right answer.

BernieD: My first attempt to respond to this problem was the Taxonomy of WebQuest task that came out around 1998 or so.

BernieD: Take a look at

taskonomyVanessaGst6 left the room (signed off).

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BJB2 . o O ( hold down the ctrl key when you click on the url )

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DavidW waves to Susan

RitaZ: have you updated that lately, Bernie?

SusanR: Hey David

BJB2: Hi, Sue. We're looking at

BernieD: This list was pretty useful for its time. It at least made it easier for me to talk about what we were looking for in a good lesson.

SusanR: Thank you

BernieD: Not so much updated it but supplanted it, Rita.

RitaZ: thanks, bernie

BernieD: A few years later, I developed a broader way of thinking about what a WebQuest should look like. The list of design patterns was the result.

BernieD: You'll find that here:

design patternsKathleenFP joined the room.

BernieD: Many of the links on that list have gone bad, I'm sorry to say, but I have new ones to replace them and will have them up soon.

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BJB2: wb, Kathleen. We're looking at  hold down the ctrl key when you click

BernieD: Anyone have a question about either of these links? Or a comment?

KathleenL: tks

RitaZ: time is needed to peruse them in detail

KathleenL: can I enlarge this chat window?

ElizabethC: I have seen these before. I like the way they emphasize higher-order thinking skills and give ideas for how to really do that in hte classroom.

BernieD: WebQuests? Yes. But then while you're actually teaching it you don't need to prep anything.

ElizabethC: I meant, these links.

DavidW: Kathleen, click the Actions menu and select Detach - you can enlarge the chat window

ElizabethC: It is easier to write your own webquest with these patterns that you have developed.

KathleenL: OK, I am here!

SusanR: Just detached, Elizabeth

BernieD: That was the goal

KathleenL: whew

BernieD: Though it still isn't easy.

BernieD: I believe that having these pages as guides has made it easier to create solid WebQuests, but there are problems with this list.

BernieD: 1. It's not long enough. In every class I teach, someone comes up with a good, constructivist idea they'd like to implement that isn't on the list. So the list isn't long enough.

KathleenL: I have been a huge fan, for a number of years. I need to bring webquests into the new century

KathleenL: And the chat is getting smaller - lol

BernieD: 2. There are already 26 patterns on the list, a lot more than anyone I know can keep in their head all at once. In a way, the list is too long.

BernieD: Too many, too few.

BernieD: The only way around this dilemma, I think, is to chunk the designs in a way that makes sense so that teachers can see the bigger picture while finding a place for their own good ideas.

BernieD: The way I've decided to chunk it is by using five verbs that I think capture a lot of what we should be preparing kids to do in a 21st century environment. Those five verbs are design, decide, create, analyze and predict.

BernieD: It seems to me that those five verbs describe what's at the heart of full participation in society as a citizen and at the heart of every intellectually satisfying career I can think of.

KathleenL: ah, just figured out how to enlarge the font!

AnaliaD Impressive!

ColetteC: did you choose those words with updated Bloom's taxonomy or updated NETS*S in mind?

BernieD: Collette... not really. They come in a sort of bottom up way from my looking at

BernieD: successful WebQuests that I've seen developed.

BernieD: I first grouped those into the design patterns, and then noticed that the patterns themselves could be grouped.

JenniferO: I like the five verb approach. seems simple yet effective

BernieD: There is some kinship with the new Bloom's, but not an exact fit.

JeffC: how about "collaborate?"  or... are we talking about individual webquests and problem solving?

BernieD: And I have to confess that I haven't studied the new NETS.

KathleenL: How has your Webquest design changed since the early days?

SusanR . o O ( what about webquests in a web2.0 environment )

BernieD: Kathleen... not that much. Just more elaborately described.

AnaliaD Bernie and Bloom birds of a feather

BernieD: Susan... I'm thinking about Web2.0 and seeing the places where the 2.0 tools we have fit into these patterns.

JenniferO: How often do you feel webquests should be used in the classroom?

SusanR: or using wikispaces tocreate a webquest

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BernieD: And as for collaborate as a verb... seems to me that that's a means to an end (a very desitrable one) but not an example of higher level thinking.

BernieD: Sure... you can create a WebQuest in a wiki, Word, Powerpoint... almost anything.

ElizabethC: Web 2.0 could be used as a product for the webquest - a wki or a video, for example.

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DavidW: just additional tools that can be utilized

BernieD: How often? Teachers tell me the most common question from their kids after they finish a WebQuest is "when can we do another one like this?"

KathleenL: I agree, I created some early webquests, but didn't see the higher level product that I wanted, so abandoned them

BernieD: But I think it's a once a month thing at most.

BernieD: So... here's a graphic of what I'm thinking about.

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five verbs

ColetteC: Colloborating and networking can be a part of analysing

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BJB2: wb, Kathleen and Christy

DavidW: We are looking at:

BernieD: Each of those five verbs has a layer of activities that one might build a lesson around.

RitaZ: the jpg doesnt open here

BernieD: That second level is what's new.

ChristyC: I wish I could stay but lightning is too close.

ChristyC: Is there any way I can what you do later?

BernieD: Since you're in the Southern Hemisphere, Rita, you have to turn your monitor upside down.

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DavidW smiles

RitaZ: lol, berine

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ChristyC: I will continue to explore new sites.  Thanks

BJB2: Christy, type your email

BernieD: Let's look at one of those layers.

BJB2 . o O ( I'll send you a copy of the script )

KathleenL: ;0


KathleenL: second level?

RitaZ: (if that was the only thing I should turn upside down!!)

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KathleenFP: isn't there a video part of this?

BernieD: Seems to me that as the core of a lesson, we could ask kids to design an object of some kind, a distillation of information, an event or a process.

BernieD: No video yet.

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BernieD: In a design task, kids have to create a desired end state or product while working within realistic constraints.

zenSusanR . o O ( hmm I gather Christy is from my neck of the woods. )

BernieD: Here's an example of a design WebQuest:. Designing a Backyard Zen Garden

BernieD: Notice that in the Process there are limits on size and shape.

KathleenL: can't get to it

JenniferO: for some reason even if I press the ctrl button it won't take me to the site?

BJB2: make sure you don't have a screen minimized

ElizabethC: It may be in the background. Look and see what other windows you have in Internet Explorer.

KathleenL: ok, did

BernieD: Hmm... maybe you'll have to wait for the transcript and see it there.

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FernandaR: you have to allow pop up windows

BernieD: So... in the new (still developing scheme) the old design patterns and some new ones are organized under these categories.

BernieD: Here's what it ends up looking like: tasks

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JenniferO: ok that didn't work

BernieD: Everyone else able to see the links? Any comments or questions?

KathleenFP: Is there a audio portion?

KathleenL: so in this model there are more specific details required?

JenniferO: so I can't have anything minimized for me to see the links

BJB2: no audio

BernieD: No audio, though you can feel free to read the words aloud to yourself.

KathleenL: for the design?

JeffC: links clicked here open in a new tab or window... subsequent clicks go to the *same tab or window*.

BJB2 chuckles...or hum

AnaliaD: Berni, this design reminds me of the TfU framework? Was that a source of inspiration?

DavidW . o O ( Webquest is to build a popular song using the words in the diagram )

RitaZ . o O ( and Bernie also has a good sense of humour! )

BernieD: Kathleen.. the new model allows (I hope) teachers to think broadly about the kind of thinking they want to develop, and then go into more detail about how they'll do that. Each design pattern will include very specific guidance about how to implement it with links to example time capsules, for example, and hints on how to help learners select what goes into a time capsule.

BernieD: TfU was a source of inspiration in the very beginning, Analia, though I've found it hard to teach using that framework.

ElizabethC: Have you written the analyze portion yet? That is a skill I want my students to work on.

AnaliaD: it is that's why I was wondering; i see this is much more feasible!

BernieD: It stays too long at the abstract level and most teachers want to head down to the concrete details right away.

AnaliaD :o))

BernieD: Let

BernieD: let's look at another of the verbs.

BernieD: This is the Analyze part.


BernieD: And here's a good example of an analysis WebQuest. "Fountains of Colour" - A Short Story Webquest

fountainsKathleenL: It actually feels more limiting to me

BernieD: It's an example of analyzing artifacts... things created by people like literary genres.

BernieD: How so, Kathleen? I think almost everything you could come up with will end up somewhere on this chart, and if it doesn't I'll try to make a new place for it.

AnaliaD amazed

JenniferO: This would be good to use in analyzing the concept of Natural Selection and Evolution

BernieD: Yes, that would be a good lesson.

KathleenL: I think that is the part I am struggling with, everything must have a place. Where do the kids define the outcome?

KathleenL: I will admit, that I abandoned webquests a few years ago, and I was a believer, I must revisit

BernieD: You can give kids freedom to complete the WebQuest in a varierty of ways. But you have to have an idea of what kinds of things you want them to learn along the way. That's what this is about

KathleenL: OH god, storms

BernieD: Here's the more detailed version of the analysis section.


AnaliaD: Bernie, does that mean there are different entry points?

BernieD: Could be. Or more options at the exit point when kids figure out how to make something that solves the problem, answers the question, etc. It's up to the teacher to figure out how much structure vs. freedom to allow.

JeffC wishes that the Resources and Rubrics links were not Word docs... but such is life.

AnaliaD loves that

JeffC . o O ( for the Short Story Webquest. )

BernieD: Remember that a WebQuest isn't open-ended inquiry. It's not Summerhill. It's a guided form of inquiry that some kids (and some teachers) can use to get themselves ready for open ended inquiry.

BernieD: I can see that we're running out of time fast, so let me quickly show the other sections.

KathleenL: I still think that given the structure of our classroom, it can be difficult to get there....

BernieD: Here's the Create section.

create tasks

KathleenL: hmmmmm. good point

harlemBernieD: And an example of a creation-based WebQuest Harlem Renaissance Museum Exhibit!

BernieD: Here's the Predict section

prediction tasks

bombsBernieD: And an example WebQuest: Bombs Away!!!

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BJB2: welcome, Andrea

BernieD: And finally the Decide part.

decision tasks

RitaZ: very interesting topic for stds, Bernie

ColetteC: Will you create a new scaffolding for your webquests to include the new verbs?

JeffC: Nichole Frazier needs to do the rubric and also credits for her Harlem webquest.

KathleenL: the Conclusion?

BernieD: Collette... yes. Already doing it on my QuestGarden site.

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ipodAndreaBla joined the room.

BernieD: And an example of a recommendation: iPod Use in Schools

ElizabethC: It seems to me that some of these verbs could be combined into one webquest - using an analysis to predict, for example.

KathleenL: Bernie, can you show us results in the classroom? I would love to see the products that kids create!

JenniferO: have to log out now but thank you for the excellent insite into webquests!

BernieD: Yes... a lot of things will end up as a combo. Pedagogically, sometimes I think it's better to focus on one thinking skill at a time for awhile.

AndreaBla: I agree.  It can get overwhelming if you bombard students (esp. elementary) with too many thinking skills at once

BernieD: These aren't my WebQuests, Kathleen, so I don't have student products. I'm encouraging teachers to add links to student products in the teacher pages, though.

ColetteC: Side note:  Did anyone else read the TechLearning article by Andrew Churches on including digital skills in the updated Bloom's txonomy - these could be included in WebQuests

BernieD: So... the bottom line... here's the new scheme in graphical form.



KathleenL: Bernie, you have been doing this for a long time. I would love to see what teachers have actually done with these...

BernieD: Thanks for the link, Collette... looks interesting.

KathleenL: that would be powerful!

BernieD: Jeff has a link to the edutopia article he mentioned.

BernieD: Which is:

JeffC: first...

JeffC: that's how you can search for webquests... and yeah... that's from the "Daring Dozen" at Edutopia.

BernieD: And there's also

JeffC: If you don't subscribe to Edutopia magazine... you should... it's free.

KathleenL: I know, I know, but I have yet to see student projects...

JeffC: Kathleen, you mean student projects that came from webquests?

ElizabethC: Can teachers add webquests they have written to questgarden?

BernieD: I can hear a bunch of drunken Shriners outside the conference room door trying to get in for the next time slot, so it's time for final questions and comments.

KathleenL: yes, Jefff

KathleenL: thank you, Bernie!

BernieD: They can submit them to the listing, but the ones in QuestGarden are created in QuestGarden.

JeffC: some teachers may post results... some may have online projects, but oftentimes webquests don't have digital results.

BernieD: Right. They don't need to.

BernieD: Comments?

KathleenL: Jeff, that won't help me in our data driven curriculum process...

AndreaBla: in my experience, some of the best webquest products are not created using tech at all...poems, mural, collages, etc.

BernieD: I'll redouble my efforts to have teachers link to student products.

KathleenL: I need to PROVE that what I am doing, works

BernieD: Even the collages can be photographed.

KathleenL: thanks, Bernie!

BJB2: Thanks, Bernie. Great to have you stretching my brain!

RitaZ: thank you, Bernie, for all the rich info you´ve given us, so generously, and for your time

FernandaR: a lot of new information and examples, I'll look at them in detail later

AndreaBla: Thanks Bernie!  Hope to catch you at a conference soon!

ElizabethC: Thanks!

ColetteC: i'll be honest - the reason I haven't incorporated webquest recently b/c of time creating them and NOW my focus in more on the students gathering and analyzing the resources since search techniques have improved so much

KathleenL: I'm off to check the new resources

AnaliaD: Thanks Bernie, thanks for for kindness, open-mind and for stretching our thinking skills!!!

KathleenL: ```` night all

ColetteC: I do like the scaffolding though - to make sure i incorporate all thinking proceses :)

BernieD waves to all and hope to see some at NECC.

DavidW: Thanks, Bernie

BJB2 waves goodnight

KathleenL left the room (signed off).

ColetteC: Thank you and good luck

AnaliaD: Waves to Bernie

FernandaR: thanks !

RitaZ: bye all!

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DavidW: Ciao, Rita

RitaZ left the room (signed off).

AnaliaD: Bye, folks!

DavidW waves to Analia

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AnaliaD waves to David

ElizabethC: Bye!

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