Sunday, 4 March 2012

Guest Post: What use are QR codes in teaching?


As part of our Learning Technologies module here at NUIG aimed at academic staff, this year I incorporated a session on QR codes, involving a QR code scavenger hunt. I intend to blog about how I did this very soon. Let's just say that we all had fun and came away with a better understanding of QR codes and what they can and  can't do.

My challenge to the group was to think about how they could meaningfully use QR codes with their students to support a learning activity. I was delighted with this response from Anne Wiseman (@annewiseman), lecturer in Construction at GMIT.

Reflections on Workshop 6
I have been thinking about QR codes and how to incorporate them into my teaching  since the workshop on 2nd December. While I can see their use while on the move or out in the field I'm not so sure of their application in the classroom. The main concern I have is that I'm not sure how many students have a smart phone and how fair it is to the students who don't? Also, if the students are in the classroom why not just access Moodle instead? Surely any link that is accessed using a QR code could be equally well accessed via Moodle. What is the advantage of the QR code over other internet access? Maybe I just need to experiment with it a bit? So I came up with the idea of using QR Codes to give students some extracurricular information and points of interest (a bit like tweeting) to see if it was a success.This way, if there are only a small number of smart phones in the class, it can be treated as a one off experiment.

The Ingalls building in Cincinnati, USA.
One of my year 3 modules is Structural Design and Detailing which is a calculation based module dealing with Structural Steel and Reinforced Concrete Design and as such is very calculation based. So to liven it up I thought I could use QR Codes posted on my office door to link to web sites showing various well known buildings, interesting facts and Youtube videos relating to this module to see how it was received by students.

My office is in the main student access area so has quite a passing 'trade', and well placed for this.

This morning I posted a QR code on my office door to see if anyone would notice, comment on the qr code or on the link. The link is to a photo and brief description of the Ingalls Building, Cincinnati, Ohio which was the first reinforced concrete skyscraper built in 1903.

This afternoon, three students stopped to ask about it. One had a smart phone so I explained about QR codes and how to get an app to scan it. They had seen QR codes before but didn't know what they were. Curiosity aroused , the app was downloaded and the QR code scanned to reveal the link. Very impressed, they then wanted to know how I did it. Without revealing how easy it was to turn a web URL into a QR code I challenged them to find out how to do it and put a code up for me  in answer. It would be great to get an exchange of interesting bits of news/information relevant to the module or programme in general. I have already sourced some Youtube videos (1-2 mins) on construction related topics to post in the next few days.

This is an ideal way to test the new technology before using it in the classroom where those that do not have the technology could feel alienated. It should be obvious very soon how many smart phones are actually out there! It was great to see the curiosity, interest and wonder and maybe it is the fun element of QR codes that makes them different to any other web access. I certainly think if I had posted the photo and description on my door nobody would have stopped.

Now I need to figure out how to check to see how many times the link is accessed! 

If you have any other ideas about using QR codes in teaching in Higher Education, please add them as a comment!

(Photo by en:User:Rdikeman, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)


Tess Young said...

Hello There,
I just wanted to see if you were currently interested in additional guest bloggers for your blog site.
I see that you've accepted some guest posters in the past - are there any specific guidelines you need me to follow while making submissions?
If you're open to submissions, whom would I need to send them to?
I'm eager to send some contributions to your blog and think that I can cover some interesting topics.
Thanks for your time,

Sharon Flynn said...

Hello Tess,

thanks for your interest.

Usually guest posts come from people who are known to us and are invited to contribute something on a particular topic.

If you are interested in contributing, please get in contact and we can discuss.