Teaching with the Web:
    A Collection of Online Treasure Hunts and Webquests
Overview WebQuests Teacher’s Guides
to the WebQuests
Treasure Hunts Teacher’s Guides
to the Treasure Hunts
Forms Contributors

Why Online Treasure Hunts and WebQuests?

Online treasure hunts and WebQuests are curriculum-specific inquiry-based applications of the World Wide Web. Both have the advantage of helping students make efficient use of the Web to achieve learning goals by guiding them to resources “that have been selected for their high educational value relative to the desired learning outcomes” (Cunningham and Billingsley, 2003, p.4). This helps students avoid mindless surfing of the Web.

The pedagogical uses of online treasure hunts and Webquests are listed below.

Online treasure hunts:
• Develop mastery of subject matter through a set of carefully formulated and sequenced questions that define the scope or parameters of the topic and require students to apply concepts learned.
• Develop reading comprehension skills.
• Expose students to various types of learning materials, and different ways of presenting a topic. With proper guidance from the teacher, the latter can help develop the students’ critical reading skills.
• Foster active learning, as students must look for answers to the questions posed by reading a variety of resources.
• Develop the higher order thinking skills of analysis and synthesis through the Big Question, which requires them to integrate what they have learned from the Web resources.
• Develop creativity by having students synthesize information using various formats, such as reports, skits, posters and collages.
• Represents an efficient but effective way of introducing curricular topics that are related.

• Promote authentic learning by giving students learning tasks involving real-life problems or issues. Examples are suggesting solutions to reduce pollution in the local community, advocating biodiversity conservation, and documenting local history and culture.
• Develop research skills, such as how to locate relevant information, take down notes, and consult various sources.
• Teach students how to work with various types of learning resources, including primary sources online and offline. Primary sources contain “raw” information or information that is not packaged for instructional purposes. (Grabe and Grabe, 2000, p. 135) Examples of primary sources of information are interviews with experts and archival documents. According to Grabe and Grabe (2000), working with primary sources “is a constant requirement for professionals in any field and for any citizen who chooses to take an active role in community decision-making” (p. 136)
• Develop oral communication skills as students interview local experts and work with group mates, as well as written communication skills through the production of texts (e.g., reports, proposals, illustrated stories) that articulate what they have learned.
• Promote collaborative and cooperative learning as students must work in groups in which each member has a specific role to play and there is complementation rather than duplication of roles.
• Develop higher order thinking skills, as students must analyze, synthesize and evaluate information collected from a variety of resources in order to produce a knowledge product, such as a term paper, multimedia presentation or website.
• Demonstrate to students the real-life applications of concepts learned in the classroom. For example, a WebQuest on Roman Catholic churches helps students appreciate the application of Geometry in architecture. This WebQuest also integrates learning competencies in Mathematics and Social Studies, as students study the history of the Roman Catholic churches as well as identify geometric figures and principles in the churches’ architecture. Similarly, the WebQuest on the structure of bridges helps students discover and appreciate the real-life applications of concepts in Physics.
• Foster integration across the curriculum, as the task and process require students to apply knowledge and skills from different subject areas. For example, to produce a report on the conservation of lake biodiversity, students must apply concepts learned in Biology as well as reading and writing skills taught in English.
• Initiate students into a community of practice as they take on the roles of professionals/experts in various fields (e.g., historian, journalist, anthropologist) and seek answers to questions from the perspective of these experts. This approach subscribes to cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT), which holds that learning is not just a process of mastering knowledge and skills, but also a process of becoming an active and full participant (from being a mere observer and/or peripheral participant) in a community of practice. (Blanton, Moorman & Zimmerman, undated)
• Help structure learning in a way that capitalizes on what Vygotsky called the zone of proximal development, or the gap between what students can do on their own and what they can do with the help of adults (teachers, experts) and/or more capable peers. The zone of proximal development is a key concept in “the general law of cultural development,” which stipulates that learning takes place first on the social level, through interaction with other people, and then at the psychological level, when the child internalizes that which is learned. (The Virtual Fifth Dimension Clearinghouse and Propagation Center, undated)

What’s in the Collection
Why Teach With the Web?
How to Make the Most of Online Treasure Hunts and WebQuests


Copyright 2004 by the Foundation for IT Education & Development. All rights reserved.