QR codes lead to new learning tools in schools

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2013_07_QRCodesSCDE_130703The Gadget Guy reviews the latest technology for the government and explores related trends and hot topics.

As communication gets faster, so have ways you can more efficiently connect to the world. In a relatively short number of years, we went from typing in long URLs to one-click apps that do the same thing on your mobile device. In that time, we’ve also been introduced to the QR code. These squares of apparent static look like those images where you are supposed to squint and see a sailboat, but the coded information they contain usually leads a mobile user to a location on the Web. Originally designed for industrial use for such things as inventory control, QR codes are now used by advertisers to the point you can’t go very far without seeing one.

Lately, a Des Moines, Iowa-area elementary school has been discovering ways to use QR codes to facilitate education. For a couple years now, one teacher has let fifth-grade students decide to talk about a book they’ve read instead of writing a report. They record their presentation, put it up on a website, and create a QR code for it which they post in the school hallways.

Also, just last year, fourth-grade students were assigned to write about a person they researched. They were to create an online newsletter about the person. One student wrote about Ernie Davis, a college football player who died of leukemia at 23. He made a QR code of the URL of the newsletter incorporating a photo of Davis.

The faculty and staff are encouraging the use of this technology in their students’ studies. “It gets them really excited about engaging, not just with what they’re learning about, but with the other people in their class when they’re doing maybe a scavenger hunt or when they’re out at the board scanning other people’s work,” said Shannon McClintock Miller, district teacher librarian and technology integration specialist at Van Meter Community School.

Hopefully, more schools out there are learning even more ways to take technology that is commonplace in the commercial world and apply it toward education.

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