Session 4: Mobile technology – skills and techniques

In this session we looked at a range of different mobile technology applications, such as using QR codes, making films and using animation software. I decided to focus on using QR codes in the classroom, as I had not used them before. I have used iMovie to edit movies before; indeed this was the focus on my Year 2 assignment (which I will discuss in a separate blog post).

QR (Quick Reference) codes are funny looking things that look like barcodes. However, they provide much more information than old fashioned bar codes. The information contained within them can be accessed by using a QR code reader available on iPads and smartphones.

They can be used to direct you to simple text, a website, an image or even a spoken message (recorded on sites such as audioboo or Record MP3). The latter provides a great opportunity for differentiation, for example they could be stuck in exercise books and played back for children to gain a recap of instructions, if they need them.

This extract from BBC Click gives an insight into how QR codes work and can be used. It’s from a few years ago now, but it gives a good general introduction to them.

To start exploring how these work I used the Scan iPad app to read QR codes in a maths puzzle from Helen. The maths puzzle is presented here:

When the individual QR codes are scanned a sum shows up for the children to answer.

The individual QR codes could be cut out and placed around the classroom for children to solve. QR codes can be presented in different colours, allowing for differentiation, with different teams completing different trails.

After exploring how QR codes work, I had a go at making one of my own using www.scan.me.

My example is inspired by the ancient Egyptians. It could be used as part of a classroom museum, focused on the class’s topic for the term. The children could create the QR codes themselves for different objects and this would give them a sense of ownership of their work, which is important to help children remember the information they have learnt (Jeffrey and Woods, 2009).

The following picture shows you my mock-up of a classroom museum, including the object and it’s QR code.

If you tried to scan the QR code in the picture of the classroom museum you may have found it hard to connect (at least I did). The Primary Ideas blog discusses that recognition can be a problem when using QR codes. They suggest the use of URL shortening services (such as TinyURL or bit.ly) to shorten original URL addresses when linking to websites. This makes the QR code simpler, making recognition easier.

Another benefit of making the URLs shorter is that these can be typed directly into the address bar, for example if someone doesn’t have access to a QR reading device.

The use of these two services in a school newsletter is a really good idea because they would allow parents to be directly taken to examples of their child’s work. This can be supported by a textual explanation in the newsletter to set the work in context.

There are some great additional ideas available on this Google Docs Document about using QR codes in the classroom. I particularly the following two ideas:

  1. Children’s targets: A quick audio or video extract could be stuck next to children’s targets in their exercise books. This could provide a simple summary of their targets and what they need to do next. This might be more helpful for some children than just seeing their targets written down.
  2. Tour of the school: QR codes could be placed in key areas of the school, providing information about the different areas. The use of videos, pictures and audio information would help to provide an insight for visitors into life in the school at different times of the year, for example a QR code in the hall could show a short film of the school’s Christmas play.

In my Year 1 e-portfolio I discussed the use of QR codes in Bordeaux Southern France. You can read the discussion point by clicking here. Unfortunately, the interactive version of the document cannot be uploaded as my blog doesn’t support the file format I exported the finished product from eXe to.

In my e-portfolio discussion point I discussed the issues of using technology in school, including the problems of recording evidence of children’s progress. I think that the use of QR codes provides opportunities to evidence children’s progress because their completed QR codes are saved online for later retrieval. Furthermore, individual codes can be printed off so that they can be easily scanned for people to see the progress children have made.

Since writing my e-portfolio discussion point I have seen a rapid increase in the use of iPads. I have also seen an increased uptake in life outside of school. For example, I saw this advertisement with a QR code on it when I was on train the other week and other mobile devices in schools. I think this helps to address the issues of access I mentioned.

I believe that mobile devices have a lot of potential for use in the classroom and I look forward to working as part of a group in the next ICT session to create a classroom resource.

References:

Paper-based references used in this blog post are available here.

Jeffrey, B. and Woods, P. (2009) Creative Learning in the Primary School. London: Routledge.

3 thoughts on “Session 4: Mobile technology – skills and techniques

  1. I found this to be a very useful post, thank you for all of the information you provide about QR codes.
    I especially found it useful to learn about TinyURL as I was unaware that it was possible to shorten URL addresses. This is great to know if using QR codes in school as I can imagine many schools, with so many working off of their networks, would find it hard to connect. Have you tried this yourself and found it to work well?

    Moving on the QR codes in newsletters, I think that this is an idea that would really benefit some parents, giving them a way of gaining more insight into what their children do during the school day. I do, however, think that this depends on the school that you are working within. In some more deprived areas, families may not be able to afford the smart phones and tablets that allow them to download the QR code readers. Although, you did state that there is a large rise in those purchasing these devices and so maybe this will not be the near future.

    For those who do have the opportunity to use QR codes in the many ways you have explained, I think that they will find them to be a great source of information.

  2. Hello Eden,

    Thanks for the comment. I’m glad you found the post useful. I have not used URL shortening in schools (yet); however I find it very useful when sharing resources on Twitter.

    I do think that access could be an issue – as is commonly a problem with ICT resources. I think that URL shortening could help here, as parents could either access the information using the QR code or, if they do not have access to a smartphone, type in the URL address. I have seen the use of sessions in schools for parents to access ICT resources and I wonder if these could be used for parents to try out the different pieces of technology. Maybe it could be possible to rent pieces of equipment to families at a reduced rate?

    Looking at the latest annual ONS Internet Access statistics (August 2012 – available from here http://tinyurl.com/cd2e7gd), 80% of households in Great Britain had internet access compared with 77% in 2011. The access to internet at home has increased 23% since 2006 and 93% of households with internet access use a broadband connection. These are all quite positive statistics and seem to suggest that issues of internet access are decreasing.

  3. Thanks Chad,
    Taking what you have said forward, I think if I am to use QR Codes I will have the URL addresses available for parents to use. Although, I do like the idea of renting equipment, maybe if using QR codes for a school tour or on parents’ evenings, iPads or other resources could be available for the parents to take around with them. Using school resources in this sense may also be better as parents are using their own phones or devices may raise safeguarding issues.
    I know that I have been within schools where ICT is completely dismissed due connection issues; I find it a shame to see children not using ICT to its full potential. It is interesting to see that there are positive statistics; I hope that they continue in this way so that we can use internet access more thoroughly throughout the school day.

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