The WebQuest model was developed in 1995 at San Diego State University by Bernie Dodge and Tom March, and is described by Bernie Dodge in "Some Thoughts About WebQuests" http://webquest.sdsu.edu/about_webquests.html
Here are the definitions they provide:
"A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the internet, optionally supplemented with videoconferencing. There are at least two levels of WebQuests that should be distinguished from one another."
Short Term WebQuests
"The instructional goal of a short term WebQuest is knowledge acquisition and integration, described as Dimension 2 in Marzano's (1992) Dimensions of Thinking model. At the end of a short term WebQuest, a learner will have grappled with a significant amount of new information and made sense of it. A short-term WebQuest is designed to be completed in one to three class periods."
Longer Term WebQuest
"The instructional goal of a longer term WebQuest is what Marzano calls Dimension 3: extending and refining knowledge. After completing a longer term WebQuest, a learner would have analyzed a body of knowledge deeply, transformed it in some way, and demonstrated an understanding of the material by creating something that others can respond to, on-line or off-. A longer term WebQuest will typically take between one week and a month in a classroom setting."
Critical Attributes of WebQuests
"WebQuests of either short or long duration are deliberately designed to make the best use of a learner's time. There is questionable educational benefit in having learners surfing the net without a clear task in mind, and most schools must ration student connect time severely. To achieve that efficiency and clarity of purpose, WebQuests should contain at least the following parts:
1. An introduction that sets the stage and provides some background information.
2. A task that is doable and interesting.
3. A set of information sources needed to complete the task. Many (though not necessarily all) of the resources are embedded in the WebQuest document itself as anchors pointing to information on the World Wide Web. Information sources might include web documents, experts available via e-mail or realtime conferencing, searchable databases on the net, and books and other documents physically available in the learner's setting. Because pointers to resources are included, the learner is not left to wander through webspace completely adrift.
4. A description of the process the learners should go through in accomplishing the task. The process should be broken out into clearly described steps.
5. Some guidance on how to organize the information acquired. This can take the form of guiding questions, or directions to complete organizational frameworks such as timelines, concept maps, or cause-and-effect diagrams as described by Marzano (1988, 1992) and Clarke (1990).
6. A conclusion that brings closure to the quest, reminds the learners about what they've learned, and perhaps encourages them to extend the experience into other domains."
Check out the WebQuest home page for training materials and examples.