Wednesday, December 7, 2011

QR Codes - Digital Engagement

Miller's post
Andrew Miller has written in Edutopia "Twelve Ideas for Teaching with QR Codes." There is a QR code for his article's URL to the left. 

You should have been noticing these little digital squares showing up all over the place.  I find them on posters, embedded in flyers, in blogs, on cereal boxes...  Not yet in books, but that is coming. 

Miller provides a gentle overview for new users.  Additional information is provided in this article by Greg Borodaty.  Here it is in a schematic from the creators of one QR reader/generator,



My favorite app for QR codes is QuickMark.  It reads barcodes and QR codes.  It also creates them from:
  • Contacts
  • Location (name, address, phone, website URL) - nice because it contains GPS information so that the creator of that QR code can be located on Google Maps
  • URL - a quicker alternative to using QuickMark for this on a laptop is to copy the URL, open (Google URL Shortner) and paste the URL - it also generates and saves QR code for the URL (in Details)
  • SMS message (address and text) - scanner of code can send the message - great for "crowd sourcing"
  • email message (address and text)
  • any text (pasted or entered, short or long)
  • clipboard text (short text, pastes contents of clipboard automatically - this can then be edited)
Your codes are saved and can be tagged, searched, and shared.  They are saved to the Photos app.

NOW go back and re-read Miller's article.  Teachers interested in expanding literacy into real-world collaboration and learning, teachers interested in leading students to new resources quickly by using the tools students use most, should explore this technology. 

Annotation of "Flowers" done on iPad
Let me add to Miller's ideas:
  • Take a "creative walk" around your community with mobile devices.  Take Pics and attach coded location information to them.  Use the information in a QR coded guidebook that links to reviews, site/artifact information, etc.  I would have used this for my Native Plants guidebook, had it been around.
  • Send students to "fast fiction" and visual fiction URL's with QR codes.  One poster on the wall saves tons of paper!  Then challenge them to apply analysis tools by sending illustrative passages - with commentary - back to you.   To the right is an assignment I gave myself: Read Alice Walker's "The Flowers" and annotate one short passage for symbolism. This is a great activity because there is a text size limit.   How-to:
    • I copied a selection of text from the story in Safari
    • opened QuickMark
    • clicked Create
    • clicked Clipboard (text automatically pasted)
    • used the Delete key to isolate symbolic images
    • used the keyboard to add annotations
    • clicked Done
    • emailed myself the QR code
    • I also synced QuickMark to my Dropbox (in the Scan - Export Data settings).  The code automatically appeared in my laptop Dropbox (in a QuickMark folder).
    • An option when the code is read by QuickMark is to Copy it -
    • I pasted the text into Notes so that I could comment on it and return it to myself with comments... 
    • I could have created a SMS message and sent the code to an entire class or just a cooperative group
  • Send students around the campus for a "writing workshop" - use QR coded instructions for guiding them (elementary and lower middle especially) - this can be a scavenger hunt, or an information hunt (e.g. resources, teachers, etc.)
  • Use QR codes to create a group story - let the students figure it out
  • Energize your school's ELA with "stealth quotes" posted in QR on posters around the school - famous quotes would be the best - have students pick up on the idea!
  • QR code a list of URL's pointing to apps that you want students to download.  Most creators of education apps have how-to's posted on the web.  Ideas would include flash cards,
Yes, it means smartphones used in school.  But that is going to happen anyways.  Might as well move students toward using them smartly. 

Other QR readers are reviewed here.

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