How to Make the Most of Online Treasure Hunts and WebQuests
Good instructional design is essential if the pedagogical benefits of
online treasure hunts and WebQuest are to be realized.
Instructional design is defined as the “systematic process of planning,
developing, evaluating and managing the instructional process
effectively to ensure competent performance by learners.” (walterweb.com)
For both the online treasure hunt and Webquest (as well as all other
learning activities), the first step in instructional design is setting
the learning objectives. What would you like your students to learn in
this activity? What learning competencies does the lesson aim to
For the online treasure hunt, the other instructional design steps are:
1. Formulate the questions. These must be questions that will help
understand the major components or aspects of the topic, not trivia
questions. And they must phrased clearly or unambiguously, in language
that your students will understand. Also, follow a logical sequencing of
2. Choose the appropriate Web resources—that is, Web resources that not
only help your students answer the questions but are also appropriate to
your students in terms of reading level and other education
3. Formulate a Big Question that helps students integrate what they have
learned by answering the small questions. Be specific as well about the
form of the answer to the Big Question (e.g., do you want them to submit
a collage? a 3-paragraph essay? a graph?)
4. Ensure that students are adequately prepared for the online treasure
hunt, in terms for example of familiarity with computers and the
5. Plan the implementation schedule and procedures, and prepare whatever
materials are necessary. Include time for discussing answers to the
questions and providing an adequate synthesis of the lesson.
For WebQuests, the instructional design steps after setting the learning objectives are as follows:
1. Set an authentic task, or one that revolves around a real-life
problem or issue. Aside from being based on your learning objectives,
the task should be interesting to students (or you could make it
interesting) and appropriate for their level.
2. Plan how students will be organized to accomplish the task. Determine
the appropriate size of groups, the roles of members, and the method for
grouping. Roles should be interesting and authentic (e.g., historian,
children’s book illustrator, engineer) and they should complement each
other. Appropriate grouping (i.e., in terms of mix of abilities and
learning styles) is crucial to whether collaborative learning will take
3. Plan the procedures (process) that students will follow in order to
successfully complete the task. The procedures must be concrete,
logically arranged, and phrased clearly. Also, the procedures should be
consistent with and be in aid of collaborative learning skills,
information literacy (the ability to locate, evaluate and use
information), reading and writing skills, among others.
4. Select the Web and other resources that students will use in the
Webquest. These should be educational, clearly relevant to the task, and
appropriate to the level of the students.
5. Design the system for evaluating student work in the WebQuest. This
should include a rubric or scoring guide for evaluating the students’
outputs, and self-assessment and peer evaluation strategies. In a
WebQuest, the process is as important as the product. The skills being
developed are just as important as knowledge of the subject matter.
Self-reflection is an important skill that should be fostered, as well
as collaborative learning skills. The rubric for scoring the group
outputs is also a means for helping students assess their work and that
of their peers in a structured and relatively objective way.
6. Anticipate what difficulties you might experience in the course of doing
the WebQuest and put in place appropriate solutions and support
measures, such as providing an orientation to and basic training in how
to use computers and Internet, detailed scheduling of WebQuest-related
activities, and liasing with other experts and organizations or groups
that students might need to touch base with.
7. Provide a relevant closure to the WebQuest. Discuss the WebQuest
experience with your students, synthesize lessons learned, and give
informative feedback on student work.
Of course, you must identify beforehand the topic of your online
treasure hunt and/or WebQuest. Most topics in the curriculum can be
taught using online treasure hunts and WebQuests. However, online
treasure hunts tend to be limited to a specific topic or concept (e.g.,
triangle congruence, what is a haiku, the biological system of
classification, the monetary system). In terms of learning
competencies, an online treasure hunt generally provides students with
an overview of the topic and helps them understand the basic concepts
that comprise the topic. Webquests integrate a set of related lessons,
or lessons that comprise a unit in the curriculum. Thus, a WebQuest is
usually implemented after these specific lessons have been covered, as a
kind of synthesizing activity.
On the other hand, a WebQuest can be used as the overarching framework
for a series of lessons that comprise a unit. That is, the lessons are
taught in the course of the WebQuest itself. And you can combine an
online treasure hunt and WebQuest in teaching certain lessons.
Specifically, an online treasure hunt can be the format for the initial
data-gathering step in the WebQuest process where students are required
to read a set of Web resources. In this collection, examples of online
treasure hunts and WebQuests that are integrated in this way are the
||Online Treasure Hunt
|Ang Mga Alamat ng Dumanjug
|Folklore of Bohol
||Folktales, Fables, Myths & Legends
|Philippine Short Stories in English
||What Makes a Good Story?
||What Causes Air and Water Pollution?
|Flora and Fauna of Lake Danao
The Biological System of Classification
The WebQuests included in this collection may be adapted for
implementation in your own context. You can adjust not only the locale
(for example, by changing references to specific towns and provinces in
certain WebQuests) but also certain aspects of the task (for example, by
adjusting the level of difficulty for a younger or older group of
students, or for learners with a particular set of learning styles). You
may add resources or replace those that are no longer on the Web or
those that need updating. You may also streamline the process or add
steps that you think are necessary for your students to go through.
In conclusion, let me say that teaching with the Web is and should not
be an end in itself. It is simply a strategy—one of many—for helping our
students have engaging, resource-rich, relevant, challenging, and
effective learning experiences.
• What’s in the Collection
• Why Teach With the Web?
• How to Make the Most of Online Treasure Hunts