• Dave Foord
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Using QR codes for explorative learning

This is the 4th entry in a series of ‘putting the fun back into fundamental learning

QR codes are like a bar code, but rather than being made up of lines, are constructed of squares. An example QR code being below. A QR code is a graphical representation of a string of text, and they can be created by anyone, using something like http://qrcode.kaywa.com/

qrcode

The above code is for the web address of this blog (https://davefoord.wordpress.com)

Most mobile phones that have the ability to take photos can read Qr codes – some will need to download some software (or an app) onto the device (usually free) – you then take a photo of the code, and it will convert it into the text that it represents. In the case above, because the text is a web address – if the phone is internet enabled, it will then go to that website.

There are many ways that QR codes could be used in education, some examples are:-

  • Land based colleges having QR codes next to plants in the grounds, so a learner can point their phone at the code to get more information about that plant.
  • Providing stretch information following an activity – lets say you have a printed worksheet that the students complete with pen and paper. If you want to give them additional reading materials, or additional optional questions – to put a long URL onto the page is of little use, as hard to type in a long URL accurately – but putting a small QR code in the bottom corner, allows them to just point their phone at it, and away they go.
  • Having a set of questions (which may be used on paper in the classroom) – but having some help information, or feedback information stored on a web address somewhere (this could be on the VLE, a Blog, a wiki etc.) create a QR code pointing to this, and then put this onto the document. This allows the students to attempt the questions first, then go to the additional information later on if they need to.
  • Creating information treasure trails. Setting up a trail, where the learners move around the site, locating a QR code – which contains information to do with the subject, possibly asking them a question that points them to the location of the next QR code. Yes this would take a bit of time to set up, but as allows, there is the option of setting the students the task of creating a QR code trail for their peers. The students would need to think about what questions to ask, where to place the codes, etc. Then create them (quite easy to do) and go and put them in the right places, then have fun following each others trails.

An example of something like this, has been created by an Australian PE teacher ‘Mr Robbo

With further details on his excellent blog – http://thepegeek.com/2009/03/26/using-geocached-qr-codes-for-revision-in-a-pe-classroom/

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Using screencasting to explain a concept / revise

This is the 3rd entry in a series on ‘putting the fun back into fundamental learning’.

I have become a huge fan of screencasting, especially since I discovered screenr – a free web based tool, that is really easy to use for this purpose. I often use screencasts as a way of producing ‘how to videos’ as part of my work. In a previous post on this blog, I highlighted how this idea could easily be used to create revision aids. Which either the tutor could create for the learners, or the learners could create themselves (and then share with their peers?)

Another slight twist on this would be to challenge the learners to create a concise screencast (which if you use screenr limits you to 5 minutes) that explains a concept succinctly and accurately to other people. Maybe setting a series of criteria against which the screencasts will be judged, and offering a prize for the best one (out comes my trusty air guitar that I keep giving away). Criteria could be things like accuracy of information, artistic merit, communication skills used, etc.

If you had students working in small groups where they had to plan what they were going to do, how they were going to do it, who was going to talk etc. then you have a really good activity, covering lots of Personal Learning and Thinking Skills, as well as some Functional Skills. You may need to think about where the learners actually do their recording, as doesn’t work having lots of people in the same room, but if you have access to another small room nearby which once prepared the learner(s) can sneak into to do their recording then brilliant.

If you don’t want to use screenr, which is web based and therefore needs accounts etc, then the free camstudio, would be an option – this can either be installed onto the computer or run from a USB memory stick (and is part of the eduapps suite). This will allow you to create more than 5 minutes of recording, and keeps the output off the internet (unless you share it later) so some may prefer the extra ‘safety’ of this method, but it is more fickle to set up and get the audio settings right etc. Or you can use screenr, but in a way that you keep the end products private, as shown in this screencast.

Using screen capturing as a revision aid

A really simple technique that requires minimal set up time from a tutor, but has huge educational benefit, is to get learners to use screen capturing software to create educational resources – such as revision aids.

At the moment I am using http://screenr.com/ as this is free, doesn’t require a download, I can download the final product as an Mp4 or publish it to YouTube – and the videos created will play on an iPhone or iPad

Here are a couple of examples of using screenr as a revision aid, the first is the simple method, the second is where I have used some pre-created images which I drag in – this could have easily been textual labels, used to label a diagram for example.

and

If screenr is blocked for any reason by an organisation, then you can use Camstudio which is free software that can be downloaded or run from a memory stick as part of the eduapps suite – this I find is harder than screenr, as you have to fiddle with the sound settings to get it right, and the final output is much bigger.