(Posted by Dughall)
Don’t be put off. Please bear with me! Believe me this is interesting and not as super-geeky as it might look!
I first saw these things code things a while ago and also noticed that John Davitt actually had an iron-on one on his shirt at LOB10. I knew they were a way of ‘attaching’ stuff to a simple black & white ‘code’. However, I also knew that my 18 month old (not very smart) phone was incapable of unlocking the gateway to this magic kingdom. I have since upgraded my phone and, in more ways than one, the world has changed.
The key to unlocking the (QR) codes is having a device that will read them. This might be a phone with a camera and associated QR code reader app; this could be an iphone, new ipod touch, Android based phone etc. Once you have a device, you can then point it at the codes and instantly ‘see’ or read the ‘stuff’ that is attached. The attached stuff (in the case of QR codes) could be some text, a link to a website, an action (such as ‘send a text message’) etc. So what? Well, this is not particularly anything new and systems such as this have been used effectively in museums and art galleries to ‘enhance’ the visitor experience. There are also examples of info posted around a village and accessed via children using Playstation Portables (PSPs). The possibilities for the use of these things in schools are endless and it seems that there is an ever-increasing set of creative teacher minds turning in their direction (more later).
If you’re still here, stick with me, we’ll get on to the schooly pedagogical stuff soon. Honest
Not long after I met QR codes, I came across Stickybits (thanks to Tim Rylands and his blog post). Stickybits is a bar-code based system. Again, you need a reader (there is an app for iphone and android). The big difference with Stickybits is that anyone can add stuff to the code. In my opinion this is incredibly powerful! (QR = one way, info received only, Web 1.0 model. Stickybits = two way, collaborative, info in & out, web 2.0 model). Stickybits allows you to not only access ‘stuff’ attached to a barcode, but you can also add your own ‘stuff’. By ‘stuff’, I mean anything (anything electronic): documents, photos, video clips, audio files etc – the list is endless. Adding stuff can be done on the hoof (via the device itself) or via the website – browse>upload. Stickybits allows you to create (for free) your own unique barcodes but also to add stuff to any existing barcode (a 500ml bottle of Coke has loads of stuff attached to the barcode).
Well, things came to a head when I was lucky enough to hear Julian Wood speaking passionately at Teachmeet Stoke about a magical QR code adventure that his children went on at his school and I am finally getting my thoughts down.
Here are just a few ideas that have sprung to my mind (and others) recently and seemingly simultaneously:
- Enhance a tour of the school by adding a multimedia element. OFSTED, prospective parents, other visitors are given a device and as they move around the school, they encounter codes that they read. Imagine walking into the empty school hall, reading a code and immediately accessing a short video extract of the school show from the previous term. Imagine if outside each classroom you were treated to a snapshot via audio, picture slide-show, video of a selection of art, poetry, etc of what the children had been up to over preceding weeks.
- Stick a code on the front of a pupil’s exercise book. Feedback can be added in any format as time goes on. This can be done by peers, the student, teachers, parents etc. The same could also be done for homework presumably.
- Add book reviews to a barcode on a reading book.
- Associate a code with a classroom/corridor display to add multimedia or enhance the display.
- Children follow a code treasure-trail where each code contains a clue as to where the next can be found (the clue could be video, pictorial, audio or text). These treasure trails could be created by the pupils to be used by others.
- Codes could be used to tell, or stimulate a story process.
- A code could be attached to a ‘resource pack/box’ so that teachers’ planning, children’s artwork, writing (stories, poetry etc), video clips of drama etc could be added to the code. Subsequent users of the box may then access the rich resources and ideas and add their own. I owe this particular brilliant idea to Tim Rylands and have spoken to our LA Schools’ Library Service about it just this week. They are very positive about it.
- Stick a code into a pupil’s book and it links to a website, blog, resource etc.
- A code in a maths book has a video clip created by a child that explains how they have done a mathematical calculation.
These are just a few ideas. I have found that once something like this is in the hands of teachers, they start to get very creative in generating their own ideas.
There is just one downside to Stickybits at the moment and that is that their terms and conditions state that the app and website are for the use of people aged 13 and older. I emailed them at the beginning of October explaining some of the ideas above and how useful I thought their resource might be for education. I got the following response back:
“…we’re in the process of working with our legal team to investigate the best way to handle this because we certainly don’t want to limit who can use our application. As soon as there is some news to report, I’ll follow up with you…”
I am sure that if I weren’t a lone voice then things might move along quicker perhaps. firstname.lastname@example.org
I am grateful to the following people for the bouncing and generation of ideas: Pete Richardson, Tim Rylands, Julian Wood, John Davitt, David Mitchell, Ian Addison, Tom Sale, Doug Woods, John Sutton, Kevin McLaughlin, Zoe Ross, Paul McKean, Tom Barrett, James Langley (and if I’ve forgotten you, please let me know – it is an oversight and nothing personal!).
Here are some useful associated links:
David Mitchell’s blog and what he’s doing with Year 6 pupils
Tom Barrett’s #Interesting Ways to Use QR Codes (Where there are some other ideas for using them (I must add the ones above…)
One place where you can make the codes: Kaywa (There are plenty of these, Google knows where).
This Google doc about QR codes in school.
If you like, you can leave a comment via this barcode + the Stickybits app. I will be notified via email every time it is scanned or if a bit is added.