Adding to Your Learning Streets

It always amazes me how little we utilize the pathways in school buildings. Whether it is only seeing these as transition points from A to B or a mindset that sees learning tethered only to the classroom, this area is often neglected outside of a few token art pieces, an award here or there, and random announcements.

While there are certainly many things schools can do to convert these legacy spaces, one area I’m exploring for next year is really simple.

Take a quick look at the image to the left. Are you aware of what the strange box is and does? It is a mobile barcode called QR.

If you add an app to your iPhone or download the software for your mobile phone, you can scan and access the content embedded within the code: social networking links, RSS feeds, SMS, contact information, URLs, podcasts, YouTube videos, etc.

Give it a try! Once you have downloaded the app/software for your phone, open the app/software and scan the barcode to see what happens.

Learning Street Uses

There are surely plenty of uses but here are a few I’m considering within our school.

  1. QR barcodes placed in high interest areas that are connected to Multimedia recordings to inform people about these places. For example, a QR barcode in our main entry near our alma mater song. When scanned, the fight song plays on the phone of the visitor, student, parent, community member, etc.
  2. QR barcodes in knowledge/learning common areas that link students to additional resources.  For example, QR barcodes located in various areas of our academic resource center that link students to videos explaining the concept they are exploring or linking them directly to the online tutor sign-up.
  3. QR barcodes at office entry points that serve as a digital business card. For example, a QR barcode next to the photo of educators when you enter their offices and administrators when you enter the main office. This barcode provides instant contact information.
  4. QR barcodes at area entry points that serve as an introduction and digital connection. For example, a QR barcode upon entering the library that links the phone directly the virtual library.
  5. QR barcodes during events that allow for enhanced interaction. For example, clubs could provide digital handouts and multi-media welcomes through the barcode during activities night. This would allow students and parents to quickly access information and store on their phone.
  6. QR barcodes in social spaces and informal learning spots through the school that provide enhanced learning opportunities. For example, our All School workshop group could extend ideas by YouTube videos and podcasts.
  7. QR barcodes in areas that often need troubleshooting. For example, our computer labs could have QR barcodes that instantly connect students to technical help desk.
  8. QR barcodes strategically throughout the school. For example, these could be ideal as guided tours during evening events like curriculum nights, parent nights, etc.

This doesn’t even address how teachers can begin to leverage QR barcodes: virtual fieldtrips, scavenger hunts, virtual help and troubleshooting, homework codes, outside adventures, and much more. Just look at Laura Jacob’s great work with Mobile Zebra.

Building your own QR Code

What is really nice about this discussion is the ease in which these can be built.

  1. Find a QR generator. There are plenty on the web though I’ve been using the following two most frequently: Delivr, Mobile Bar-Code, and Kaywa
  2. Fill our the information and generate the barcode
  3. Copy that to a handout, document, slidedeck, poster, etc.
  4. Print and strategically place

Give it a try!

If you’ve done this, I’d love to hear about your experience. If you haven’t, let me know your thoughts on whether this makes sense for our learning streets or hallways if you prefer.

3 Comments

  1. Ryan:
    Good post! I work in a technical center in PA where we are constantly touring potential students and parents through our building. I’m going to have my students produce short videos describing what visitors will see before entering any of our CTE labs. QR codes will link to these videos. I just found a laptop cam reader that we can provide to visitors without smart phones. I can’t wait to show this to my kids!

    Reply
    • That will be a great way to allow visitors to gather additional information from sources that interest them. The cam reader is interesting, too. Do let me know how this all goes. It will be interesting to see the feedback from those creating content behind the QR codes and those consuming the content.

      Reply
  2. Thanks for the ideas. I’ve been looking at QR codes but for some reason froze on what to *do* with them in teaching. Your list primed the pump. The kicker for me was thinking about _pathways_. Using QR codes, a physical path can be layered with a media path – be annotated by students with texts and links, and signals to where the next code can be found. Student can create a narrative that is read by moving through the physical space – until the codes disappear.

    I’d rather do this with gps positioning, but the codes would work, too.

    Thanks again –

    Reply

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