Digital Learning Day at the Worcester Academy Library

Digital Learning Day was February 6. How did your school raise awareness for digital learning?

Worcester Academy’s library chose to showcase QR codes. We commissioned a display project from art students. We were thrilled to discover the QR code they created actually scans!

QR Code ProjectLibrary staff researched media such as e-books, podcasts, videos, and websites that connected to library books and other materials.

Materials DisplayThen we created QR codes and affixed them to the books and materials. in the picture above, you can see Neil Gaiman’s novel Anansi Boys. The QR code attached is linked to a YouTube video cartoon version of one of the many Anansi folktales. The other book, 1812: The War that Forged a Nation by Walter Borneman is linked to an episode of the In Our Time Podcast that discussed that war.

DisplayThe display was wide-ranging and included links to library resources, Black History Month resources, and resources related to the curriculum.

2013-02-13 08.47.41Books connected to a major World Civilizations project that ninth graders complete at Worcester Academy had QR codes that linked to e-book versions that students could access from home.
Novels and Other MediaFiction and other media were not slighted, either. A new box set, The Long Road to Freedom: An Anthology of Black Music has a QR code that links to Black History Month resources, and Rachel Cohn’s novel Beta links to the Human Genome Project’s Cloning Fact Sheet.

2013-02-13 08.48.01We also displayed some titles from our Professional Development Collection.

You may have noticed the iPads as well. The library owns a set of iPad 2’s and 3’s loaded with a QR code reader called Qrafter. Students and teachers can scan the QR codes using their own devices, or they can use one of the iPads and send the link to themselves from the iPad.

QR Code SuggestionsWe set these slips of paper out among the displays for students and faculty to suggest QR codes for books and other media. Two of our sixth graders have already shared QR codes. One student shared a book review of the children’s novel Tuck Everlasting and another student shared a Britannica blog post connecting gladiators in ancient Rome to The Hunger Games.

QR codes have enormous potential to extend learning in libraries and information services far beyond the four walls of the libraries themselves.

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QR Code Tips

I participated in a Teq webinar on QR codes today. I thought I was fairly well versed in QR codes and their uses, but I learned a couple of interesting things today that I thought I’d share. First of all, I hadn’t played much with QR Stuff. I think I sometimes become set in my ways with regards to tools—not that I don’t like to try new ones, but if I have a tool that does what I need, I tend to stick with it unless I need to change, and sometimes, this isn’t a good thing. QR Stuff is cool because it allows you to change the color of your QR codes and also allows you to easily create codes for a variety of data types, including plain text.

One of the webinar participants said that you can point QR codes to Google Docs to share text-based content, too. I like this idea, but I need to play around with it a little more. I am a little bit embarrassed not to have thought about connecting QR codes to Google Docs before. Unfortunately, some tech issues on my end kept causing me to drop out of the webinar, and I had to reload U-Stream in order to get it working again. It seemed to happen whenever I tried to use chat.

Finally, I learned about the QR Reader iPhone app. I have been using Red Laser, which scans all kinds of bar codes, including QR codes, but I actually like the way QR Reader handles scanning QR codes better. Red Laser’s focus is mainly on price comparison, and its QR code features are limited. It’s easier to scan codes with QR Reader. Better than that, however, QR Reader has a creator feature that allows the user to create all kinds of QR codes and save them to the iPhone photo album, send them via email, print them, or share them on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, or Tumblr. Cool!

I had already heard about another tool mentioned in the webinar, Class Tools’s QR Code Treasure Hunt Generator, a very quick and easy tool to generate scavenger hunts, but I don’t recall if I have mentioned it here before, and it’s something many of you might want to check out.

QR codes have a lot of potential in education; your only limitation is really your imagination (and your mobile device).

It also pays to see how other folks are using tools you think you know a lot about and try doing things their way.

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QR Codes: Integrating Technology and Art

Canon 550d - Coloured PencilSome time back, I approached our art teacher with an idea for using QR Codes. We could video students talking about their work, upload the videos to YouTube, and create QR Codes that could be placed next to student art for the Fine Arts Showcase. The art show would then become interactive for anyone with a smart phone. She loved the idea, but I wasn’t sure whether she would have the time to pull it off this year. She and the students shot all the video, and she asked for help in creating the QR Codes. I went to her room and showed her how to edit clips in iMovie and upload to YouTube. Then I showed her how to create a QR Code. I only helped once, and she was off and running. Our drama teacher created a quilt with photographs and QR Codes, and she showed me a site where you can create color QR Codes. I didn’t realize you could print on fabric, but she showed me that, too. The quilt is wonderful, as was the students’ artwork. When the school publicized the art showcase, they made sure to recommend that smart phone users download a QR Code reader. I was told that the QR Codes were a big hit on the Fine Arts Showcase.

I’m not sure if you can see this video, as it’s on the Weber School’s Facebook page, but here is a link. The video includes several pictures of showcase attendees using their smart phones to view the material embedded in the QR Codes. Let me know if the video doesn’t work for you. We are on Passover break, so I won’t be able to ask about possibly uploading the video to YouTube or if it is OK to take pictures of the students’ artwork and post it here. You can, however, view the videos linked to the QR Codes on our art teacher’s YouTube channel.

Helping teachers integrate technology will be an important part of my work next year, and I was pleased with the outcome of this early experiment.

Creative Commons License photo credit: doug88888

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QR Codes

qrcodeWhat is a QR Code?

It’s a kind of bar code that encodes information in a square like the one you see to the left, which is a QR Code for this website. “QR” stands for “Quick Response.” You can learn more about these codes at Wikipedia.

How can I read them?

These codes can be read by cell phones, so you will need an application. I found a list of QR Readers here, and if you have an iPhone or an Android, you can search their app stores for QR Code Readers. I use an app called Red Laser (iTunes link) to read QR Codes.

What can you do with QR Codes?

I’ve been learning about them for a couple of months, and while I can’t claim I have an exhaustive list of ideas for how to use them, I have a few.

  1. Put them on handouts or make stickers for textbooks. Students can scan the codes to learn more information about any topic. You can embed links to any website. Yes, you can also include the URL, but the QR Code will allow students to scan the code and go directly to the site.
  2. Put them on displays and signs around the school so students can learn more. Example: A scholarship contest sign could have contact information or a link to the website embedded. Students can quickly scan the code, and take the information with them more easily and quickly.
  3. Put them next to student work in the hallways and link them to text that tells viewers more about the artist and the work. Sure, you can display a block of text, too, but you have more options with QR Codes (links to other media, etc.). For example, you could include a link to a video in which the student is interviewed about their work, which is harder to do with a bit of text on the wall.
  4. Add them to large maps. Students can scan them and be directed to Wikipedia articles or other websites where they can learn more about the area. For example, putting a QR Code on a map of Georgia next to Milledgeville could bring up a list of writers from that town. You could also link to GoogleMaps so students could zoom around and explore the area in more detail or to images of people or events in the area. Videos, too.
  5. Encode answers to the assignment so students can check their work when they’re done. Perhaps the extra step of decoding the QR Code will be enough for students to try it out first before checking.
  6. Use them in scavenger hunts. Students can be directed to different websites and complete different tasks.
  7. Have students use them to turn in work. It would be great for multimedia projects incorporating video, audio, blogs, and images.

Jeff Utecht also has some great ideas for using QR Codes. I love the idea he shares about putting QR Codes on books. Students can be directed to reviews. QR stickers on books might be a fun way of sharing an assignment, such as a literature circle role.

Check out this great LiveBinder on QR Codes.

I have to admit, it’s kind of fun to take images of QR Codes and see what will pop up. Which also means they can be used by students for more nefarious purposes, so you should be aware of them for that reason, too.

How can you make them?

Kaywa has a great QR Code generator. Give it a try.

What if you don’t have mobile devices, or what if they’re banned in your school?

qrcode

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