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The use and better use of QR codes in learning

Fig.1. Here a ‘Near Field Code’ offers the visitor further information as a rich ‘nugget’ delivered to their smart phone – though not to iPhones. My perfect guide would have been my mother at my side.

An avid visitor to museums, galleries, historic houses and battlefields I have become intrigued by the kinds of guidance offered and the way this has changed with the greater use of IT and in some instances the use of Quick Response or Near Field codes. All of them appear to try to recreate the perfect visitor support – the sympathetic, well informed guide at your shoulder explaining what’s what and tailoring their response to your interests and level of interest. I had this, and my children, nephews and nieces got it too from my late mother on visits to art galleries. An artist who had studied art history too, she had a way of picking out nuggets of information and insight about an artist and their trade.

Fig. 2. Some galleries and museums now offer an audio guide that is at least triggered by your proximity to an exhibit.

Though you are of course still beholden to the words and tone of the expert, even if their words are spoken by a broadcaster. From time to time the quality of the content stands out – in my experience the audio-guide for visitors to Alcatraz in the Bay of San Francisco stands out because it had to my ears the hallmarks of a BBC radio docu-drama – expertly written and crafted with the right mix of interview clips from former inmates, and prison guards.

As learning experience this is still one way – however memorable I am neither constructing my own narrative nor sharing much with others, until of course you take off your headphones and share your feelings and thoughts with other family members.

A QR code offers more than just a switch that triggers a nugget of reading, viewing or listening at a specific spot – it offers the chance to take people to content that you provide and to make connections that lead to conversations and discussion. It is these aspects of the QR code that are of interest to me, students as ‘produsers’ and participants, having responsibility for, even pride in, content that they research, put online, tag and then promote with a QR code and then return to as the curator and moderator of their content, sharing and expanding their views through ‘connected learning’ practice.

Fig. 3. Using Quick Response codes to bring those who served in the First World War to life

In relation to the First World War, to achieve this requires more than simply sticking QR codes to poppies, and leaving poppies at memorials, in the railings outside historic buildings, or in the ground on battlefields – it requires three kinds of champion: institutional support, educator support and these ‘produsers’ – a term coined by the Australian academic John Bruns when writing about the value of blogging.

The institution, by way of example, in the UK, might be the British Legion, Imperial War Museum, Western Front Association or National Trust – as well as smaller, regional and local associations. The ‘educator’ to use its broadest sense is the classroom teacher or university lecturer who once introduced to QR codes sees how their use can be exploited within their own learning programmes.

 

Fig.4. My visualization and conception of those who are most active at generating content. After Jakob Nielsen (1999)

While the ‘produser’ is that rare 1% in an online population, like those who generate content for wikipedia, keep a blog or post video content to YouTube, who can be encouraged, within the context of the First World War to use QR codes in imaginative and innovative ways, probably drawing viewers to content or adapted content, that they have already created and in doing so indicating to others how straightforward it can be to upload a photograph and some text, or if they are moved to do so, to write a poem, compose a song, paint a picture, make a sculpture, complete some research or tell a story – and then to share it, especially at times and in places that are most appropriate.

REFERENCE

Bruns, A. (2005) ‘Anyone can edit’: understanding the produser. Retrieved from http;//snurb.info/index. php?q=node/s86

Nielsen, J (1999) Web Usability

Using SimpleMinds multi-media mindmap as a concept board for a Tutor Marked Assignment (TMA) on the Open University module ‘The Networked Practitioner’

From E-Learning III
From E-Learning III
From E-Learning III

Fig.1. SimpleMinds+ concept board/mind map for H818 TMA 01

Sometimes it is too much fun. Actually writing the assignment is such an anticlimax. Sometimes the tool offers too much. SimpleMinds (Free) does the job more the adequately. Here I got mesmerized by the ability to add pictures … which might be a visual aide memoir but are unnecessary and unlikely to make it into the assignment. Though I do believe in illustrating the thing if I can. However, given the module I’ll have to be very sure indeed where I stand on the creative commons for any images used.

There’s a mash-up here from a publicity piece on the Museum of London using an application called Studio – I ought to attribute both.

There’s a photo I took in the Design Museum.

To confuse the visitor some parts of this show permitted photography, some didn’t – this did, but I don’t know on what basis. In the centre there is a complex SimpleMind of my own on 13 learning theories (there are possibly only five or six, but I stretched the thinking a bit) I ought to have a creative commons licence on it of some kind so that a) I receive attribution b) there is no commercial use c) there is no chopping it about. ie. CC attribution, no commercial, share alike?

Museum of London: QR codes


The last couple of months have led me to QR codes and their potential for use in museums on site visits and walks. I’ve had to do a couple of these to gain a full insight. At the Museum of London they also use NFC or ‘Near Field Codes’. As I don’t have an Android phone these were redundant. The few dozen examples of NFC codes were sponsored by Nokia. I saw no one, at a busy museum getting out their phone to use these (they operate like an Oyster card – you tap/touch to create the link), nor did anyone else use the QR codes The museum visit is rich enough without the need for ‘links away’. I can take an hour, a couple at most, in places like this. Today I was engaged for three and a half hours and skipped lunch. I was enthralled and drawn in. The design of the journey through the exhibit is a challenge – trying to second guess such a variety of visitor interests. Today there were several distinct groups – the elderly retired, some apparently on an organised trip and primary school children split into five or six classes … and a few older students, possibly A’Level, and some language students (these groups far smaller) and a group of young adults with learning difficulties. The layout is like a visit to Ikea – it snakes around. There is ample space (for crowds) and I armed myself with a chair so that I could, frequently, stop to take in an exhibit, to watch a video, to complete an exercise or to play with the artefacts: touch, buttons, interaction and so on. And to try some of these QR codes. In each case I got user generated style video – so by, apparently, a visitor, typically young, with attitude and from an ethnic minority. This, on reflection, gave a sharp, necessary and insightful contrast to the exhibits. I came away though thinking it was unnecessary, that at such a richly resourced and planned location QR codes would serve a better purpose on the street, or in particular, adding considerable and necessary colour to a battlefield tour – where generally there is little more than a plaque.

Mobile learning at the Museum of London: QR codes and NFCs

Fig.1. YouTube video for the Museum of London‘s NFC initiative in 2011

Having picked through links that came to a dead end in a fascinating paper on the variety of technologies and tactics being used by museums in relation to mobile learning I started to see and read more and more about the use of QR codes (those matrix two-dimensional bar codes you use with a smartphone) and NFC ‘Near Field Communication‘ which is becoming an industry in its own right.

Having been kept awake at night about a need for ‘constructing knowledge’ rather than being fed it I knew that visitors, students especially, need to engage with their surroundings by somehow seeking and constructing their own views.

Without QR and NFC the simplest expression of this is taking notes, and or photographs of exhibits – not just selfies with a mummy or your mates. Possibly doing bits of video. And from these images cutting/editing and pasting a few entries in a blog, Prezi or SlideShare. QR and NFC feed the visitor controlled and curated bite-size nuggets, so more than just a snap shot, you can have audio and video files, as well as more images and text.

Fig.2. South Downs Way QR Code.

Successful trials mean that these have spread. Funny I’ve not noticed them living in Lewes and walking the dog most days on the South Downs. I’ll take a look. NFCs have been used extensively, for 90 exhibits, at the Museum of London – so a visit is required. Though I won’t be ditching my iPhone. Apple does not support NFC believing that the technology is still in its infancy … like Flash, like Betamax and VHS, and all that stuff, a battle will be fought over the NFC benchmark.

So 60% penetration of smartphones in the population … most of all of which can use a QR code, but less using a early version of NFCs. My experience?

Fig.3. QR Codes at the Design Museum

Last year a visit to the Design Museum I found the ‘Visualizing the mind’ exhibition littered with QR codes.

They didn’t work. Just as well they had ample computers. How often do organisations jump on the IT bandwagon only for a couple of wheels to fall off further down the road?

Fig.4. Evie

Meanwhile I’m off to walk the dog .. then using a trip to see Gravity at the Odeon Leicester Square with my kids to include an educational tour to the Museum of London (always handy to have a teenager around when using mobile technology).
REFERENCE

‘REPORTING RESEARCH’ 2013, Interpretation Journal, 18, 1, pp. 4-7, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 November 2013.

QR codes and NFC

Fig.1. YouTube video for the Museum of London’s NFC initiative in 2011

Having picked through links that came to a dead end in a fascinating paper on the variety of technologies and tactics being used by museums in relation to mobile learning I started to see and read more and more about the use of QR codes (those matrix two-dimensional barcodes you use with a smartphone) and NFC ‘Near Field Communication’ which is becoming an industry in its own right.

Having been kept awake at night about a need for ‘constructing knowledge’ rather than being fed it I knew that visitors, students especially, need to engage with their surroundings by somehow seeking and constructing their own views.

Without QR and NFC the simplest expression of this is taking notes, and or photographs of exhibits – not just selfies with a mummy or your mates. Possibly doing bits of video. And from these images cutting/editing and pasting a few entries in a blog, Prezi or SlideShare. QR and NFC feed the visitor controlled and curated bite-size nugets, so more than just a snap shot, you can have audio and video files, as well as more images and text.

Fig.2. South Downs Way QR Code.

Successful trials mean that these have spread. Funny I’ve not noticed them living in Lewes and walking the dog most days on the South Downs. I’ll take a look. NFCs have been used extensively, for 90 exhibits, at the Museum of London – so a visit is required. Though I won’t be ditching my iPhone. Apple does not support NFC believing that the technology is still in its infancy … like Flash, like Betamax and VHS, and all that stuff, a battle will be fought over the NFC benchmark.

So 60% penetration of smartphones in the population … most of all of which can use a QR code, but less using a early version of NFCs. My experience?

Fig.3. QR Codes at the Deisgn Museum

Last year a visit to the Design Museum I found the ‘Visualizing the mind’ exhibition littered with QR codes.

They didn’t work. Just as well they had ample computers. How often do organisations jump on the IT bandwagon only for a couple of wheels to fall off further down the road?

Fig.4. Evie

Meanwhile I’m off to walk the dog .. then using a trip to see Gravity at the Odeon Leicester Square with my kids to include an educational tour to the Museum of London (always handy to have a teenager around when using mobile technology).

REFERENCE

‘REPORTING RESEARCH’ 2013, Interpretation Journal, 18, 1, pp. 4-7, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 November 2013.

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