I was sitting in a professional development seminar and the presenter said something very profound, “We are teaching the last backpack generation, right now.” The students that are in our classes today will reminisce about the days when they had to heave these heavy things filled with back-breaking textbooks uphill—both ways (insert my Dad or any of my uncle’s voices). Think about it, soon they will all have tablets or some type of device.
How many of you fight with your students daily about the cell phones and ipods? Give the students a reason to bring them to class…we already know they are tucked just below the surface in pockets and purses and are just a moment away from distracting our already distracted students away from our lesson. Enter the QR Code.
The QR code stands for a Quick Response Code that is a special type of bar code arranged in a matrix fashion. We are seeing them used more often by businesses to deliver users to their web sites for marketing. However, QR codes can be used for much more in a classroom setting. Users simply need to have their devices pre-loaded with a free app that can read QR Codes. There are several on the market. I use, Scan made by QR Code City on my iPhone.
In a recent activity in my broadcast journalism course, I had students complete a quiz of their previous two lessons using QR Codes setup like a scavenger hunt. I broke the students into teams of two or three (depending on how many had their devices with them) and sent them out of my room to start. They scanned the code by my classroom door. The QR Code was setup to deliver text. It gave them their first clue. Students would scan the QR code and the text would say:
“What term describes the connection that a journalist will find between a national story and their hometown? If you answer ‘localization’ go to room 204, if you answer globalization, go to room 110”
It was setup like the old time adventure books. When they scanned the next bar code, it would tell them they were correct and give them their next clue; or it would display a message sending them back to the previous clue to re-explore their answer. The students had a blast! Every single one was engaged. They all had their devices out, including phones, and not one was misusing them to text friends or talk on the phone. Their distracting device became a learning tool in a matter of seconds with a little purpose sprinkled in.
Setting up the project is not difficult as long as you stay organized. The web site, www.the-qrcode-generator.com has several options for you to try. I just setup my clues as “Free Text” which sends the student a text message without using their cell service. The text is embedded in the code. Therefore, they don’t have to worry about getting spammed, disclosing their number or charges for text messages. Simply copy and paste the QR Code from the website and paste it into a Word Doc. Put a new code on each page. Label each page with the place that it must be hung up. Trust me on this one! I learned that the hard way by standing in the hallways scanning each one to see where it was supposed to go.
Get creative, put some on the inside of encyclopedias on certain pages in the library. I could tell the students that didn’t study in my class because they were huffing and puffing from going up and down the stairs. The scavenger hunt followed a nice easy progression from the third floor of our school to down to the first floor and back to the classroom. Students who had excessive wrong answers were sent far away and back again. They had to do the stairs several times versus their peers who studied only going all the way down once and back up.
One English teacher was going to make a mobile web quest using the URL function in the website. It was a take on the traditional web quest, but students would have to move around from space to space to find the clues to move on using research skills. Just think of how the students will get creative and engaged in your class with an activity with this type of design.