QR codes for learning

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Two weeks ago I set myself the task of discovering whether qr codes can be more than a great means to create ‘treasure hunt’ type activities, (as much fun as that undoubtedly is!), to be genuinely used to enhance or transform how my students learn. I decided to make a mindmap that would try to sum up a variety of areas: a rationale for QR code use, some ideas of how to use in lessons, the easiest way to make and share qr codes, concrete ways to use codes to link to text, websites, audio, images, videos, and other online materials. Here is the mindmap..I am refining it with each new discovery. http://popplet.com/app/#/803240

In running a number of training sessions with staff this week, what has come through as a justification for QR codes is not just that they add an element of discovery to a learning activity, but that the bridging of a static paper resource like a poster or worksheet to some digital content can -with some thought- genuinely redefine the task at hand in a unique way. Our school uses edmodo as a VLE so the obvious question was ‘ why not just post weblinks there’? The answer seems to lie in the fact that once you post a weblink to a class on the VLE then it is available to all immediately, and the ability to have students move from one activity to another, either individually or in groups, is lost. The existence of the physical worksheet or of printed codes ensures that the teacher can make these appear by simply handing them out or by having sheets on separate stations in the classroom.

My mind is racing now with the possibilities for differentiation and personalized learning because having the paper resource link to further help/support/challenge without the need for the student to approach me leaves me to work more closely with targeted students or groups face-to-face.

I started my own qr journey in class this week with two very simple examples. When my students enter my class they know to come in, open their exercise books and copy the Learning objectives from the flipchart projected on the IWB. Underneath that there is always a small challenge for them to solve, like an anagram or a jumbled sentence or a translation to attempt based on recent tense structures or vocabulary. They will usually collaborate on discussing this challenge and I have frequently used Socrative this year for them to post their answer and the compare with everyone else’s. This week, instead of the challenge sentence written out, I just had a QR code on the screen. I said nothing but they quickly worked out what to do, scanned the code and attempted the challenge. Agreed, the use of the code in this example did not alter the original task, but it did augment it in a couple of ways. Firstly, only students who were ready could scan the code so there was a definite incentive for the objectives to be written swiftly as the students were more curious than usual to see what the puzzle was! Secondly, by having the challenge now visible on their iPad screen rather than on the whiteboards made it easier for them to refer to rather than have to keep looking to the front of the classroom for the information. The second use for the code was to have a weblink to student.infuselearning.com appear on the next slide as I planned to use it next. It took the whole class only 10 seconds to scan the code and get to the exact website I needed them to go to without having to open the VLE or try to copy a web address from the whiteboard. A real timesaver.
I am being observed with this class next week so am planning to to take a few risks and see what I can come up with..my students have just done some reflection on their strengths and targets so I know some of them want to go over the perfect tense again whilst others are ready to move on to the next topic..am going to see if QR codes will help me divide and conquer!

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