Friday, 30 July 2010

QR codes revisited...

Not too long ago I posted the start of a Augmented Reality (AR) exploration using Quick Response Codes (QR). One of several questions I had was what, if any, practical use they were in an elementary school setting where the use of mobile learning tools such as mobile phones is strictly controlled (essentially blocked). Moreover, there has been very little uptake of mobile technologies by the school other than netbooks which the school is in the process of phasing in.
Currently, there are no plans to make the school a "1:1" school.

A second concern I had, was what were the limitations of the technology, given our circumstances and the access issues experienced by the majority of our learners. Broadband internet speeds are quite slow and connections are unreliable.

The first step would be to encourage the school management to allow, at least temporarily, the use of camera equipped mobiles as long as the parents signed agreements for loss or damage and that the parents provided permission for the children, with my help, to install software on their phone (the QR Reader) or the parents agreed to do it themselves.

Another step, which had to be taken is to determine exactly how the QR codes could expand our learning options and make our lives more collaborative. This step should be taken before approaching the management so that there are some concrete examples of possible benefits.
QR codes are part of a wider area of technology known as Augmented Reality (AR). To learn more about the field of AR go here and here.

The training of the children should be relatively straight forward. Have the children start up the QR code reader on their phone and then point the phone's camera at the QR code displayed on the Smartboard or wherever is convenient. Sort out possible problems such as fingers in front of the camera or technical issues. Have children tell everyone what was in the code.

The first way we used a QR code in a practical way was placing a QR code on our classroom door which contained a simple introduction to the class. Therefore, any parents who were able could use their camera and get basic details about our class such as our class website address and class email address.

Another use for QR codes from our perspective is for distributing website addresses during lessons and for pupils to include beside their class pictures outside our classroom which takes visitors either directly to their class blog or eportfolio, flikr stream, etc. Another use we were able to develop was as a link to a parent RSVP form on Google Docs.

How have you used QR codes or AR in general? Let me know in the comments.


Anonymous said...

A word of caution to QR Code enthusiasts: Creating the tag, while simple, is only the first step. Compared to desktop or laptop environments, mobile browsers are a different beast entirely. To successfully build a satisfying mobile Web 'micro site' one must contest with tiny screens, less memory and storage capacity, bandwidth limitations and, above all, the absence of run-time applications and (on Apple devices) Flash. Fortunately, companies like Warbasse Design ( and others are pioneering these issues. It's a brave new world — again.

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