Session 5: Mobile Technology – curriculum applications

In this session KerryLindsay and I worked together to produce a lesson using mobile technologies. We decided to combine the idea of a scavenger hunt with using QR codes.

The scavenger hunt was set up around the University campus. The purpose of the lesson is for children to scan QR codes to get a clue about where the next QR code is located, along with a word. Once the children have completed the scavenger hunt they have to re-arrange the words to create a sentence.

This picture shows an example of what would be seen if you scanned the first QR code in our scavenger hunt route.

The rest of the QR codes and corresponding pictures are arranged, in order, in this PhotoPeach spiral. The words have been redacted to avoid spoiling the surprise sentence for you!

The ICT skills required to produce the scavenger hunt are quite simple. You need access to a computer in order to visit www.scan.me to create the QR codes and a QR reader (such as an iPad or iPod touch) to read the QR codes. This animation, made in VideoScribe, summarises the process.

As you can see this is a straightforward process. Combining text and photographs did slightly complicate things, as we had to merge the text and original photographs to create a single image. These then had to be uploaded to Photo Bucket and linked to the QR codes.

However, we have no doubt that children in Key Stage 2 could make QR codes, progressing to embedding quite sophisticated information within them. Classes could make QR code scavenger hunts for each other. For example,  Year 5 could make a Scavenger hunt for Year 1 children using simple audio clues. This would give the Year 5 children a real purpose for their work.

The Year 1 class could evaluate how well the scavenger hunt works. For example, our scavenger hunt may have been easier to set up if we colour coded the order that the QR codes go in (instead of them all looking the same). The order of the colours could be kept secret by the people who made the scavenger hunt.

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.