QR Codes in Education! But not quite here yet…

27 07 2006

I was very excited to come across the first documented instance of QR Codes actually being used in an educational context today. This edublog documents a classroom example in Japan, where, instead of long URLS or information being copied down by students, the same information is captured with a single click of their phone cameras.

Qr_code_detailsLike me, the blogger realises that behind a QR Code could be a whole range of resources. Instead of a student copying down homework tasks, they can simply capture the information, or a link to it, with a camera snap. When they get home, they gain access to, say, a del.icio.us (or mobilicio.us) page, where their resources are assembled. Some of the resources might even be mobile themselves, such as resources developed in mobileprep – a mobile phone flashcard creator.

I’ve been doing some work behind the scenes to try to get QR Codes implemented in Australia. Last week, I sent emails to the general information contacts at Telstra, Optus, Vodaphone, and Virgin Mobile, viz:

As part of my job I am researching the use of mobile phones as tools to support
education. I’ve recently become interested in the use of 2D barcodes (QR Codes)
to access information from mobile phones. The technology could be used to help
students to access supplementary online learning materials through mobile
phones.

Given that QR Codes have demonstrated extremely high success in
Japan (where over 30 million users now have QR Code readers built in to their
mobile phones), are there plans to investigate or deploy QR Code readers in
Australian phones, for a myriad of commercial and educational applications that
would ultimately also be advantageous to carriers such as [carrier], due to
increased mobile phone usage?

The responses I got were in quite a different order to what I expected. I got a reply from Telstra first, thanking me for my enquiry, but advising that Telstra don’t seem to be pursuing this application. Vodaphone were next, and have asked me to call their Head Office to discuss the issue. I haven’t received a reply from Optus or Virgin yet; the latter particularly surprises me, since I’ve always thought a brand like Virgin would seize an opportunity to innovate.

Anyway, I’m pursuing this further. I will call Vodaphone and see if that gets anywhere; but I’m also going to try telephoning a couple of other Head Offices, getting details of someone who’s responsible for strategic development, and sending them some data to demonstrate that there are good commercial reasons for implementing QR Codes in all new mobile phones.

In the meantime, I encourage other interested educators to also contact their carriers and ask about QR Code implementation in Australia:

For those who would like to try integrated QR Codes, and own a relatively recent Nokia phone (other makes and models soon to be supported), Kaywa recently released a free version of their QR Code reader.

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QR Codes in Education! But not quite here yet…

27 07 2006

I was very excited to come across the first documented instance of QR Codes actually being used in an educational context today. This edublog documents a classroom example in Japan, where, instead of long URLS or information being copied down by students, the same information is captured with a single click of their phone cameras.

Qr_code_detailsLike me, the blogger realises that behind a QR Code could be a whole range of resources. Instead of a student copying down homework tasks, they can simply capture the information, or a link to it, with a camera snap. When they get home, they gain access to, say, a del.icio.us (or mobilicio.us) page, where their resources are assembled. Some of the resources might even be mobile themselves, such as resources developed in mobileprep – a mobile phone flashcard creator.

I’ve been doing some work behind the scenes to try to get QR Codes implemented in Australia. Last week, I sent emails to the general information contacts at Telstra, Optus, Vodaphone, and Virgin Mobile, viz:

As part of my job I am researching the use of mobile phones as tools to support
education. I’ve recently become interested in the use of 2D barcodes (QR Codes)
to access information from mobile phones. The technology could be used to help
students to access supplementary online learning materials through mobile
phones.

Given that QR Codes have demonstrated extremely high success in
Japan (where over 30 million users now have QR Code readers built in to their
mobile phones), are there plans to investigate or deploy QR Code readers in
Australian phones, for a myriad of commercial and educational applications that
would ultimately also be advantageous to carriers such as [carrier], due to
increased mobile phone usage?

The responses I got were in quite a different order to what I expected. I got a reply from Telstra first, thanking me for my enquiry, but advising that Telstra don’t seem to be pursuing this application. Vodaphone were next, and have asked me to call their Head Office to discuss the issue. I haven’t received a reply from Optus or Virgin yet; the latter particularly surprises me, since I’ve always thought a brand like Virgin would seize an opportunity to innovate.

Anyway, I’m pursuing this further. I will call Vodaphone and see if that gets anywhere; but I’m also going to try telephoning a couple of other Head Offices, getting details of someone who’s responsible for strategic development, and sending them some data to demonstrate that there are good commercial reasons for implementing QR Codes in all new mobile phones.

In the meantime, I encourage other interested educators to also contact their carriers and ask about QR Code implementation in Australia:

For those who would like to try integrated QR Codes, and own a relatively recent Nokia phone (other makes and models soon to be supported), Kaywa recently released a free version of their QR Code reader.

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Text Messaging on the Rise with Young People

20 07 2006

According to Associated Press, (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060719/ap_on_hi_te/snail_e_mail):

Email is so last millenium. Young people see it as a good way to reach an elder — a parent, teacher or a boss — or to receive an attached file. But increasingly, the former darling of high-tech communication is losing favor to instant and text messaging, and to the chatter generated on blogs and social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace.

With email becoming increasingly susceptible to spam and junk mail, inboxes can be a pain to wade through. The article continues:

Beyond that, e-mail has become most associated with school and work.

“It used to be just fun,” says Danah Boyd, a doctoral candidate who studies social media at the University of California, Berkeley. “Now it’s about parents and authority.”

It means that many people often don’t respond to e-mails unless they have to.

This trend towards instant messaging, like SMS and MMS, means that mobile phones will become increasingly preferred as a communications platform, and educators will need to adapt to this preference. While the article makes the following prediction in the context of work, the word “companies” could just as easily be replaced by “educational institutions”:

“Like parents, they try to control their children,” [a senior design anthropologist at Microsoft] says. “But companies really need to respond to the way people work and communicate.”

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Moodle for Mobiles

20 07 2006

I’ve just become aware of the Moodle for Mobiles extension for Moodle 1.6 – a development begun just this year. It can provide mobile feedback and quiz activities, with most quiz module features supported, including matching and multiple choice question types, auto question marking, password protection of quizzes, minimum time between attempts, and resumption of quizzes if aborted before completion.

mfm-3.png

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Moblogging with Location Tagging

20 07 2006

An interesting innovation – only available in the USA on selected Nokia handsets at the moment, but with potential educational applications if it’s made more widely available.

Zonetag, a research product being dveloped by Yahoo, allows the user to upload photos to their Flickr account with automatic location-specific tagging, based on their current cellphone tower.

A related Social Web tool, Socialight (http://socialight.com/index) allows people to post location-specific notes using words, pictures and sounds.  A WAP version operates from a WAP-enabled phones, and a mobile application is available for Motorola iDEN mobile phones.

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Best Practice Guidelines for Mobile Web Applications

19 07 2006

Source: http://builder.com.com/5100-6371_14-6095452.html?part=rss&subj=bldr

“The principal objective of recently issued working draft guidelines on Mobile Web by the W3C is to improve the user experience of the Web when accessed from mobile devices…This document covers best practices for delivering Web content to mobile devices.”

The article provides a concise summary of the issues associated with mobile web applications (bandwidth, battery life, capabilities, cost, input, memory, processing power and text input), impact of these variables, and principles for delivering quality mobile web content – based on the recently released W3C Candidate Recommendation for Mobile Web Application Development.

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M-Learning 2.0… it starts here

13 07 2006

Although we’re still at the early stages of mobile phone based collaborative learning, I’ve just experienced the most promising sign to date that Mobile Learning is on its way to becoming integrated with Web 2.0. Winksite is a service that allows users to easily create highly functional mobile portals, with customised informational resources (“channels”), including a number of provided services:

  • Announcements: Post announcements to the portal – which can be syndicated elsewhere via full RSS support
  • Core: Post content pages – a place to put information to be made available as mobile content. Appears to only support text content at this time but can be syndicated via RSS
  • Agenda: A mobile calendar feature
  • Blog: A mobile, text-based blog that can be syndicated via RSS, and can also grab content from all major blog sites and products if your blog is maintained elsewhere
  • Journal: haven’t played with this yet… can be syndicated via RSS
  • Syndicated Feeds: Displays RSS feeds from any source
  • Syndicated Events: Displays RSS event feeds from any RSS event source
  • Field Reports: Allows all users to text-moblog entries to the portal
  • Notes: Creates notes which can be viewed publicly or set to private (admin only)
  • Chat: Interactive, mobile, real-time chat. Awesome. Chat rooms can be syndicated via RSS
  • Forum: Discussion board, can be set to allow users to add their own topics. Topics can be syndicated via RSS
  • Surveys: Results can be viewed in real time as people respond.
  • Zine: haven’t played with this yet…
  • Guestbook: Get user feedback on your portal!
  • Links: Best reserved only for other links that can also be viewed on a mobile device.

Testing the interface (using both my cell phone and the built-in previewer) made me completely confident that the portal performs very well on mobile devices. This is no clumsy work-around to extend Web 2.0 fuctionality to mobile devices, but a custom tool for supporting true information, collaboration – and learning – mobility. There’s even a function to have your portal’s details converted into all major 2D-Barcode formats (mCode, Semacode and QRCode, illustrated on the right).

With such fantastic functionality already in place in Winksite, it appears that specialist tools for mobile teaching and learning could be just around the corner: mobile assessment, gradebooks, and group tools.

If you’d like to try out some of the tools available in Winksite, I’ve just started building a mobile portal on Mobile Learning, for educators. It’s accessible through your normal web browser, or through your mobile device, at http://winksite.com/mlearning/teach. It’s already got quite a lot of functionality for you to try, and I’ll continue to update it regularly – so check back!

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