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Using Quick Response codes to wear as part of Remembrance

By creating pertinent content and generating Quick Response Codes that are put on British Legion poppies people can use smartphones or tablets to get location based information on the people and events of the First World War, whilst being invited to contribute their own thoughts, photographs or pictures of artefacts from the era.

This is the link to the Prezi: http://prezi.com/szqsn5j9xrmv/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy


Galvanising people to share their interest in uncovering stories of the First World War

A campaign though collaboration and networked eLearning to put names to faces in First World War photographs, even to put faces to names on British and Commonwealth War Grave memorials. Through the use of the iconic Poppy with a unique QR code viewers are taken to material that invites them to help solve a puzzle – who are these people? What is their story? And to add content of their own: photographs from the era, pictures of artefacts, transcripts of hidden memoirs and buried letters. By connecting across multiple sites new insights of the collective experiences of those who took part in the First World War will be gained and their memories will be given new life.

Who’s that?

Tens of thousands of photographs from the First World War feature people who have no name. Who are they? Where did they come from? What was there story? Did they fight and die or fight and survive? Help identify these people and tell their story and in many cases remember a person as more than just a name on a memorial – they had parents and siblings, they went to the local school and played cricket for the local club … bring them to life in the 100th anniversary years of the Great War, that war that H G Wells said ‘would end all war’.

There are six photographs in this set which show the entire ‘cadet squadron’ and their commander. These embedded them in Hastings in 1918 and could offer more clues and of course more faces to ‘play’ with. I doubt any of this group saw service as the influenza epidemic and dreadful weather made completing training by November 1919 difficult … but the Royal Flying Corps barracks here had been used for a few years and indeed the younger brother of Jack Wilson had signed up age 17 and was flying bombers over Belgium at the time of this picture. I think I need to indicate that multiple connections can be made a) geographically to the wide ranging UK locations these cadets came from and b) their links to combatants in the RAF or other services at this time including those who die c) for some, the schools they had just left – so Jack Wilson who left school at 14 and came from the Iron and Steel town of Consett finds himself in the mess-room with boys straight out of Harrow and a Cambridge undergraduate …d) those who remained in the RAF and go on to serve, potentially in a senior capacity by the time of the Second World War i.e. the picture becomes a way to explore people, places, history, society, education, class, military history e) the Charlie Chaplin films being shown … the coming of radio e) even bringing it as close as I can to the present day as Jack Wilson lived into his 97th year and went to an RFC/RAF reunion in 1992, attended the 75th commemoration of the Battle of Passchendaele and on watching the First Iraq War on TV remarked ‘That’s Nothing Compared to Passchendaele’ … and said, ‘If I was a younger man I’d like to go out and have a go’ … and warned me, his 30 year old grandson that I might get called up!! So, not realising it the multliple threads perhaps make this, and therefore any picture like it, full of possibility ESPECIALLY because of the connectedness of Web 2.0. Very many thanks. Interest in this very much helps me to stick with it and fix it rather than going off on a tangent.

I need as I go through the necessary task of simplifying and magnifying the idea that works rather than thinking that adding more or coming up with new ideas will in any way help. I’ll work on what you suggest. The picture could fill the poster … ‘BE’ the poster with rollover and drop-down on faces. This offers the greatest opportunity, not least because already, since 2005 or so, when I first put these on Flickr, there have been contributions. Not least I recall being interviewed for research into memorialising the first world war based on a search stumbling upon this picture. Something I’d forgotten – that by tagging and ‘pushing’ an image on the Web it makes it ‘vulnerable’ to being picked up through serendipity and the more interest, clicks and comments, the brighter the light shone on it by the search engines … so it becomes self-fulfilling. Would it help or hinder to target this at secondary school GCSE students? This at least gives me some parameters and learning objectives to work from.

101 Ways into the First World War (PRIVATE)


Constructing, aggregating, sharing and remembering stories and images of the First World War. This is created in SimpleMinds – a multimedia tool that supports multiple layers of text, images, video and other file formats. This is a screen grab – a working model will be another challenge.

Ian Hoffman responded:

Think this might qualify as finished artefact Jonathan :-). Impressive!

Jo Jacobs said:

This is a fascinating looking poster. If I was in a museum or at a bus stop I can imagine passing many happy minutes exploring this! I can’t see the text clearly at the moment as I am on my iPad, but I will try to look at this again later on my laptop. I am probably being a bit picky here, but the module guidance suggests that someone should be able to read our posters in 5 minutes. This poster is so rich in text, images and linkages (not to mention the thought-provoking subject matter) that I think 5 minutes may not do it justice. Could you reduce the complexity a little, or focus on one or two aspects, without detracting from what you want to say? I have no idea how you might share this, or upload this to the eTMA system.

Jonathan Vernon replied:

An invaluable suggestion Jo and many thanks. I’m not very good with guidelines for some reason – I need to make repeated mistakes and drafts and have others point out that I am off track! Actually making up Poster Size and putting someone knew to the info in front of it will help me gauge what is five minutes … and what is half an hour.

And added:

Ian, thanks for this. Believe it or not I was struggling as for personal family reasons I suddenly found myself with very little time. If others are interest I have to recommend the tool I used here. It is SimpleMinds. Adding photos and screen grabs was a doddle. Obviously I had to have the images in the first place, but I gather and take images out of habit so only needed to download them from the Picasa Web Gallery where they are stored/collated. Then, as with any tool, just a couple of clicks to upload, then the image is attached to that node and can be adjusted in size and moved around. Adding multimedia elements is just as easy though I’m sure it won’t pass muster with the OU TMA system. I then invariably get caught on file size as I no longer bother to compress either images or video as space in the Google “cloud’ I use is so so massive and very cheap. A tetrabite for $2 a month or some such. I have to say putting the content of my brain onto a sheet like this, as a concept board, is enormously helpful. The way to do this without the technology are cut outs from magazines put onto a large sheet of wallpaper using artist’s glue so that you can move the images around … then string and drawing pins to make the connections and post it notes for the text.

Mark Adams suggested:

How about making your poster interactive? Is that even allowed? Simple rolloevers might be an option so when you rollover a picture with the cursor it shows the connected text. Would mean that not all text would have to be shown at one time. You could even do it that you follow the connections so when you mouseover a picture, related text and pics appear. Then you choose one and move along that “line” of inquiry or “timeline”. The others are not totally gone, just ghosted, so that we see the other pictures but those that are under scruting are much clearer. Just a suggestion 🙂

Jonathan Vernon replied:

Thanks Mark, I’ll do this. I’ll get the top layer simplified and legible then have other detail, within the parameters, set behind. This is how the SimpleMinds tool works – you can upload media files and documents behind each ‘node’ but to use this functionality users must of course have the software (free in version 1). I have played with this in a wiki-like form giving a link to a friend who could then edit and add. It has therefore both multi-media and wiki-like affordances. As a hook does the question ‘Do you know this person?’ work? It might have been ‘Do you know this man?’ but I am no less keen, as one picture shows, to identify the women, which in this case is a nurse, but might be an ambulance driver or munitions worker. Pictures of combatants have vast potential as traditionally a soldier would go to a studio to have a portrait taken before they left for the front. This same picture would then be the one featured in the local paper when either this person received an award … or of course are reported missing or dead. In this instance, Jack Wilson, started in the Durham Light Infantry and there is a studio picture of him age 19 but looking more like 15. he was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps where in 1917 he received the Military Medal. The Northern Echo or Consett Gazette then featured him, using the DLI studio photograph given to them by his mother to feature in the newspaper. It is through the newspaper archive, especially of those who died, that war memorial names could be given a face. Which poses another question. ‘Can you put a face to this name?’ Is it OK to have the ‘intended audience’ so open? i.e. inviting anyone who fancies taking an interest to get involved, though mostly appealing to the elderly children or still quite elderly grandchildren of an ancestor/relation. Perhaps a poster in a bus shelter is exactly what I ought to aim at … inviting people to find out who the people on a war memorial were – to give them a face, and a family, and a street address. To discover their story through recruitment, training and combat service …

Cara Saul says:

Really loved your poster and the idea of placing it in a bus shelter It would be wonderful to see some of your learning artefacts in place/use of the next few years Meaningful and great use of digital learning Inspiring cara

Ulrich Tiedau said:

Great poster indeed! I did not know SimpleMinds but will have a try myself. Reminds me very much of mind mapping tools. I had not thought about using those for presentations but it clearly works 😉 Best Uli

Rhona Sharpe added:

I can see that you have uploaded three different versions of possible poster designs for TMA02. I’ve combined my feedback here rather than posting on each of them separately. I have structured my feedback using the bullet points in the guidance for Activity 6.3. Description. The title ‘who was this man?’ was immediately engaging. I liked that the posters actually demonstrated a part of your project, although an academic conference audience might also expect some explanation of the background to the project, do you think? I found the second ‘who’s that?’ poster much clearer in this respect, with more potential for adding detail. Relevance. In your tags, also indicate the conference theme that your work addresses. I’m guessing innovation. User experience. I found the ‘giving their missing lives back’ poster difficult to read. I couldn’t make out the photo or read the text (might be my old eyes!). The second ‘who’s that?’ poster was much easier to read but lacked coherence. My favourite was the SimpleMind although take note of the guidance in 6.1 that it should be the equivalent of an A0 sheet of paper and able to be viewed in 5 minutes. I would need to spend much longer with this one as it stands although there were some good suggestions in the comments about having roll overs which would allow a reader to reveal the detail in their own time. Suggestions. It’s hard when you are so close to a project to see your poster through the eyes of a naïve reader. Try to assume no prior knowledge. So, I think it would help to include a summary of what the project actually is. Is it a web based collection of photos which users can contribute to? Who are your users? I liked your suggestion in the one of the comments to target this at secondary school children. It is good to see you making use of Creative Commons licensing. Do you need to take into account any licenses which might already exist in respect of the images you are using? I hope you find this feedback helpful.

Jonathan Vernon added:

Very helpful. I’m sitting here trying to simplify the weave – pulling out a few episodes, listening to the feedback and considering the narrative of the learning experience. And yes, trying to remember that I dismiss providing adequate context both in term of the First World War and in particular the perspective from a memoir of a Machine Gunner and Fighter Pilot. I’ve put a couple of simplified elements onto my pinboard which I believe begin to condense. The key decision I have to make is to have an audience in mind, this is ether: secondary school student where this innovative use of Quick Response codes is designed to engage interest, stimulate a project of research, even of contributing and then aggregating into a revision aid. Innovation yes, both at input, contribution, then ‘feeding back’ to prepare students for formal assessment based on examination parameters. The alternative and trickier audience are battlefield visitors, those ‘pilgrims’ who tour the Western Front for example the level of their knowledge varying from considerable as an amateur historian, to only passing as they have an ancestor who served. This second audience may require exactly what the BBC are providing over the next five years regarding commemorating 1914-18 that is ‘edutainment’ with I suspect some OpenLearn product from the OU pulling people into a History module. I have taped an A0 size sheet of paper to the wall and am about to get out a pen. This will help contain and shape it. I also have a Secondary School History text book for GCSE history that I plan to scrutinise as I increasingly believe that the best use of this approach would be a quasi-planned visit to a site of historic interest or a battlefield where perhaps 32 such QR codes have been placed each providing an insight into what was going on that collectively inform and through a student’s own research helps them to ‘construct’ their own meaning. Thanks again. I’ll pay close attention to the guidelines as I press on.

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