QR Codes: Here Today, but Gone Tomorrow

8 11 2010

I’ve been writing about QR Codes in education for the last five years (http://mlearning.edublogs.org/?s=qr+code), on this blog, as well as in a few published and formal papers. Recently, I have been seeing some buzz around QR Codes in education, and without meaning in any way to discourage people from trying out QR Codes (or other present-day locative technologies like RFID tags), I thought it might be time to update this blog with my latest thoughts on them.

QR Code shirts I wore to the 2007 MLearn Conference

QR Code shirts I wore (+stamps and cards brought) to the 2007 MLearn Conference

While I was very interested in their potential when they were almost unheard of in the western hemisphere, I now believe they provide an interesting technology for situated mobile learning in the present day, but I increasingly think will be supplanted by visual searching (e.g. Google Goggles) and mobile text recognition (both typeface and handwritten) within about five years.

The former technology, visual searching, allows mobile devices to visually “recognise” shapes of objects, logos, etc. taken with a mobile phone camera, and use that to retrieve information.  This would ultimately free tagging from any single barcode standard, and allow physical objects to be tagged with ANY consistent visual symbol.  In a few years, this technology will become much more accurate, particularly as imaging resolutions continue to increase and mobile processing becomes faster and more powerful.

Simultaneously, improved text recognition will allow retrieval of, or access to, web-based activities or resources simply by typing or writing our a URL in human-readable form and pointing a mobile phone camera at that URL.  This would completely bypass the need to create a QR Code in the first place, as well as having the advantage of knowing where your phone browser is taking you.  A QR Code could, for example, lead to a hidden virus or phishing site, but its actual destination is obscured by its graphical, barcoded representation.

I still see QR Codes as being a useful tool for mobile and situated learning in the present day, but I have never been content to simply look at the present without looking towards the future; and in that future, I see QR Codes becoming rapidly redundant.

Just some thoughts from an ed tech who has been thinking about these issues for a long time. 🙂





MobilED Makes 2006 Publications Available

7 02 2007

The MobilED project is one of the most inspiring and interesting of all of the mobile learning projects currently in use around the world.  It’s a partnership between South African and Finnish research and educational organisations, aiming to design “learning environments that are meaningfully enhanced with mobile technologies and services“.

The MobileED team’s latest papers and publications are now available here, addressing issues such as the use of “audio wikis” as well as information on the technical infrastructure being researched and developed by the team to support mobile learning (the MobilED platform).

There’s a wealth of documented and demonstrated experience to help other educators and developers who are involved with implementing mobile learning approaches.  The video case studies on the website are also worth viewing, explaining some of their projects such as the audio encyclopaedia (allowing text-to-speech information from Wikipedia to be accessed using a normal mobile phone), and providing some insight into the actual use of the MobilED kits.

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Learner-Centric Design of Digital Mobile Learning

27 09 2006

Learner Centric Design of Digital Mobile Learning,” [doc] [pdf] (which I co-authored with my colleague Margaret O’Connell), received the Best Paper Award at Queensland University of Technology’s “Learning on the Move” conference which I attended yesterday (despite a raging flu!).

This paper provides a model for digital mobile learning approaches that are underpinned by sound educational design, developed using a learner-centric activity model of mobile learning, and implemented through best-practice considerations that are informed by our experience of delivering computer-based learning.

Many thanks to my co-author Margaret for her educational design expertise; our peer reviewers, for helping us polish the paper, and the conference organisers, for putting together a fantastic event and recognising our paper amongst so many excellent contributions.

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Creating Podcasts (Mac/Soundtrack Pro)

21 08 2006

There’s a great series on creating podcasts being authored at the Pod Pedagogy blog. While the article is written for users of Soundtrack Pro (for Macs only), Part 1 has excellent thoughts on why podcasting can be a Very Good Thing, and good tips for a podcast production setup in general, while Part 2 has more good ideas on recording and optimising podcasts that have general application.

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Video for Mobile Learning

17 08 2006

Small portable videos can be an ideal medium for some learning areas.  For example, one of my friends – a professional dance teacher – maintains videos of over 600 dance moves on his video iPod, which allows him to quickly search for and review more moves than anyone can remember on the go.  From my personal experience as a dancer, there is no better way to accurately capture and revise dance moves than video: attempting to record the intricacies of dancing in text (even using a mobile database) is a bit like trying to write down a guitar solo using words. Here, have a look at the dance moves database I created (which is still a great tool, don’t get me wrong) – tell me if a video wouldn’t give you a better idea of how the move goes than the text description I’ve written; or, tell me how you’d convert this routine to text. 🙂

I’d imagine that there are other learning contexts where the ability to capture or playback video would be the most advantageous approach.  Video is lifelike; it synchronises sound and action; it can accurately demonstrate a series of complex and inter-dependant steps or a sequence of events.  And using a mobile recording device, video can be relatively easily captured. (You can learn how to capture mobile video optimally here, at MobiFilm Academy).

The ability to recall video as a learning resource while mobile is particularly advantageous for situations where the need to access the learning resource is not likely to be conveniently located near an internet-connected PC.  Dance is a perfect example of such a situation.  We dance socially in nightclubs; we learn dancing in studios; we tend to travel interstate and even overseas a lot to attend workshops and competitions. We never dance near a convenient PC, or drag a laptop out to the nightclubs with us – even a PDA is a bit on the geeky/chunky side.  A mobile phone would be the ideal way to access learning materials in a “cool” environment. 🙂

Videos are also a great way to share visually complex information socially – the success of YouTube and Google Video demonstrates the popularity of video as a sharing medium.  With copyright reform in Australia that makes it easier to use Internet materials for education, and strong support for Creative Commons/Copyleft/Public Domain video sharing, video sharing sites are becoming increasingly useful as places to find learning materials – which can be converted into mobile forms using video conversion tools such as Super

Here’s an example video from YouTube made by Leigh Blackall that I reckon would be a pretty good mobile learning resource (on making a flat white coffee).  The resource could be accessed by a mobile learner while at a cafe where they are being trained; it has an appropriate amount of visual detail, and demonstrates the timing and interconnectedness of steps in the coffee-making process, and visual aspects such as the final crema.

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Four R’s Model and Mobile Learning Activities

11 08 2006

Repost of posting to EdNa forums, with other commentary here. A summary of previous theorisings on this model, here and here, supplemented with diagrams.

We can classify mobile learning activities using an activity-based model of the “Four R’s of Mobile Learning”.

In a reflection of the “Three R’s” of the essential pre-Net Generation skills (Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic), the “Four R’s” of Net Generation learning reflect the current sociocultural shifts in thinking and learning for an increasingly mobile twenty-first century. Defined from a learner-centric viewpoint, these are:

Record : The learner as a gatherer and “builder” of new knowledge

  • The learner may use a portable device to capture, preserve, memorise, note, or create information.
  • The information recorded may be in response to a prompt from the portable device itself; or in response to a stimulus from a situated learning environment or their teacher.
  • The information may be recorded to the portable device itself; or the portable device could serve as a conduit for storing the information remotely.
  • Underpinned by a Constructivist theory of learning

Reinterpret: The learner as an analyst of existing data to discover new knowledge

  • The learner may use the portable device to discover, process or enhance existing data so that it is transformed into new information, or “remixed” to enhance learning. In these conditions, the mobile device enhances or supplements the learner’s own senses or processing abilities.
  • Underpinned by a Constructivist theory of learning

Recall: The learner as a user of existing information and resources

  • The learner may use a portable device to recall information, events, experiences or stories, stored on the portable device (e.g. iPod recording), or by using the device to access information remotely (e.g.on the internet).
  • Underpinned by a Connectivist/Instructionist theory of learning

Relate: The learner as part of a social context and a network of knowledge

  • The learner may use a portable device to communicate with other people; for example, with other learners, or with a teacher (i.e. in a learning relationship).
  • The learner can use the device to communicate directly and synchronously (e.g. mobile phone conversation), or access asynchronous communication services (e.g. web discussion board or weblog).
  • They can also recommend and share resources, for example, linking mobile devices (usually wirelessly) and sending a file from one to the other.
  • Communicative and collaborative: underpinned by a Social Constructivist theory of learning

Related activities include Mobile Assessment (self, formative and summative assessment), and Teaching and Learning Support (tools to help teachers and learners, such as mobile gradebooks, rollbooks, etc.)

Mobile Learning Ideas

Record : The learner as a gatherer and builder of new knowledge

  • Moblogging: (Remote Record) using a mobile device to record audio, video, or (most commonly) images and save them to the web in a reverse-chronological format with text annotations.
  • Database/Form Entry: (Local Record) inputting data into a mobile device that can later be reviewed or assessed. Example applications include:
    • Dance moves database demonstration – uses XSForms by Grandasoft (freeware)
    • Recipe database
    • List of vocabulary/glossary
    • Database of procedures
    • Generally done on a PDA
  • Recording media: learners can record audio and video to devices like mobile phones, audio players, and PDAs. Example applications include:
    • Recording a class or lecture for later review as an mp3 file NoteM demonstration
    • Recording a mock “interview” or interaction for review or assessment
    • Recording a video (e.g. “Changing a Tyre”)
    • Done on PDA, Phone, audio device, digital camera
  • Journal Using Calendar: If an online blog is not appropriate, Outlook Calendar can be used to diarise and record events, class notes, assessment deadlines, and more.
    • Why? Because this is what PDAs were originally designed for, they perform these functions well.
    • May also be possible (though less convenient) on some mobile phones.
  • Freehand Drawing: Ability to quickly sketch drawings, diagrams, and jot notes could be useful on PDAs. MobilePencil is a good product for this.

Recall: The learner as a user of existing information and resources

  • Accessing a local Learning Object: I’m using a very broad definition of “Learning Object” – includes learning video or audio file, a learning interaction such as a Flash activity, even a document. Some examples:
  • Accessing a remote Learning Object: as above,
    but not stored on the mobile device itself, but at another location in
    “cyberspace” – a network server, a PC, or the Internet.
  • Accessing an RSS feed: what’s awesome about mobile RSS aggregators is that they allow “real time” updates of information to a mobile device.
  • Mobile Web Search: Google mobile is an example – provides mobile web search from a connected mobile phone or PDA
  • SMS-based information service: these require a bit of preparation. A service is set up by a commercial provider that enables a student to send a text to a number, which then returns some information. For example:
    • a student sends an SMS with the word “impasto” to 131234
      (example only). They then receive a dictionary definition of the term
      back via SMS.

Relate: The learner as part of a social context and a network of knowledge

  • Ad-hoc networking: Programs such as “Proximity Mail” enable PDAs within Bluetooth range (approx 10 metres) to form an ad-hoc networks allowing instant messaging. Other products also allow file exchange, and operate on the longer-distance (100m) 802.11b wireless protocol. Examples of use:
    • Learners engaged in local text-based chat in a quiet environment e.g. art gallery, lecture
    • Learners share learning materials and resources in real time,
      as they discover them in their browsers or write down their own
      learning experiences
  • Instant Messaging: the preferred communication
    channel of the Net Generation. IM types include SMS/MMS between mobile
    phones, MSN Messenger (installed in Pocket PCs), and other IM products
    can be installed which operate over wireless Internet (802.11a/b/g).
    One of the most comprehensive is Agile Messenger, which supports five of the most commonly used IM clients on Pocket PCs: Yahoo, ICQ, MSN, AOL and XMPP.
  • Voice Chat: most commonly implemented in mobile
    phones, but also possible to accomplish from a PDA with a suitable
    Messaging Client installed. Some include “Press To Talk” functionality
    that allows PDAs connected to wireless internet to operate like Walkie
    Talkies.
  • Mobile Blogging:
    • Winksite demo (text), Moblog.UK
      demo (moblog)
  • Mobile Discussion: Asynchronous communication tool. Truly Flexible Mobile Learning – anywhere, anytime participation.
    • Winksite demo
  • Mobile Chat: Synchronous communication tool. Text-based group chat, allows group interaction using mobile phones (Winksite)/PDAs (ProximityMail)
    • Winksite demo
  • Mobile Wikis: Collaboration tool.
    • No free implementations (yet), but some well-documented reasons why these are/will be a Very Good Thing for learners.

Reinterpret: The learner as an analyst of existing data to discover new knowledge

  • Location-specific (potentially, situated) learning: PDA used as a processing tool to provide contextual information to learner. GPS, 2D-Barcodes, RFID tags connected with learning materials.
  • Data mining: searching a mobile database for trends and patterns in data
  • 2D Barcodes: a “bridge” between print/screen and mobile devices.
    • A QR Code could be a link to whole range of resources. Instead of a studentcopying down homework tasks, they can simply capture the information, or a linkto it, with a camera snap. When they get home, they gain access to, say, adel.icio.us (or mobilicio.us) page, wheretheir resources are assembled. Some of the resources might even be mobilethemselves, such as resources developed in mobileprep – a mobile phone flashcard creator.
    • This example links to a Wikipedia page on the video game Grand Theft Auto.With a click of their camera button, the user gets access to the information directly on their mobile device:

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Four R's Model and Mobile Learning Activities

11 08 2006

Repost of posting to EdNa forums, with other commentary here. A summary of previous theorisings on this model, here and here, supplemented with diagrams.

We can classify mobile learning activities using an activity-based model of the “Four R’s of Mobile Learning”.

In a reflection of the “Three R’s” of the essential pre-Net Generation skills (Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic), the “Four R’s” of Net Generation learning reflect the current sociocultural shifts in thinking and learning for an increasingly mobile twenty-first century. Defined from a learner-centric viewpoint, these are:

Record : The learner as a gatherer and “builder” of new knowledge

  • The learner may use a portable device to capture, preserve, memorise, note, or create information.
  • The information recorded may be in response to a prompt from the portable device itself; or in response to a stimulus from a situated learning environment or their teacher.
  • The information may be recorded to the portable device itself; or the portable device could serve as a conduit for storing the information remotely.
  • Underpinned by a Constructivist theory of learning

Reinterpret: The learner as an analyst of existing data to discover new knowledge

  • The learner may use the portable device to discover, process or enhance existing data so that it is transformed into new information, or “remixed” to enhance learning. In these conditions, the mobile device enhances or supplements the learner’s own senses or processing abilities.
  • Underpinned by a Constructivist theory of learning

Recall: The learner as a user of existing information and resources

  • The learner may use a portable device to recall information, events, experiences or stories, stored on the portable device (e.g. iPod recording), or by using the device to access information remotely (e.g.on the internet).
  • Underpinned by a Connectivist/Instructionist theory of learning

Relate: The learner as part of a social context and a network of knowledge

  • The learner may use a portable device to communicate with other people; for example, with other learners, or with a teacher (i.e. in a learning relationship).
  • The learner can use the device to communicate directly and synchronously (e.g. mobile phone conversation), or access asynchronous communication services (e.g. web discussion board or weblog).
  • They can also recommend and share resources, for example, linking mobile devices (usually wirelessly) and sending a file from one to the other.
  • Communicative and collaborative: underpinned by a Social Constructivist theory of learning

Related activities include Mobile Assessment (self, formative and summative assessment), and Teaching and Learning Support (tools to help teachers and learners, such as mobile gradebooks, rollbooks, etc.)

Mobile Learning Ideas

Record : The learner as a gatherer and builder of new knowledge

  • Moblogging: (Remote Record) using a mobile device to record audio, video, or (most commonly) images and save them to the web in a reverse-chronological format with text annotations.
  • Database/Form Entry: (Local Record) inputting data into a mobile device that can later be reviewed or assessed. Example applications include:
    • Dance moves database demonstration – uses XSForms by Grandasoft (freeware)
    • Recipe database
    • List of vocabulary/glossary
    • Database of procedures
    • Generally done on a PDA
  • Recording media: learners can record audio and video to devices like mobile phones, audio players, and PDAs. Example applications include:
    • Recording a class or lecture for later review as an mp3 file NoteM demonstration
    • Recording a mock “interview” or interaction for review or assessment
    • Recording a video (e.g. “Changing a Tyre”)
    • Done on PDA, Phone, audio device, digital camera
  • Journal Using Calendar: If an online blog is not appropriate, Outlook Calendar can be used to diarise and record events, class notes, assessment deadlines, and more.
    • Why? Because this is what PDAs were originally designed for, they perform these functions well.
    • May also be possible (though less convenient) on some mobile phones.
  • Freehand Drawing: Ability to quickly sketch drawings, diagrams, and jot notes could be useful on PDAs. MobilePencil is a good product for this.

Recall: The learner as a user of existing information and resources

  • Accessing a local Learning Object: I’m using a very broad definition of “Learning Object” – includes learning video or audio file, a learning interaction such as a Flash activity, even a document. Some examples:
  • Accessing a remote Learning Object: as above,
    but not stored on the mobile device itself, but at another location in
    “cyberspace” – a network server, a PC, or the Internet.
  • Accessing an RSS feed: what’s awesome about mobile RSS aggregators is that they allow “real time” updates of information to a mobile device.
  • Mobile Web Search: Google mobile is an example – provides mobile web search from a connected mobile phone or PDA
  • SMS-based information service: these require a bit of preparation. A service is set up by a commercial provider that enables a student to send a text to a number, which then returns some information. For example:
    • a student sends an SMS with the word “impasto” to 131234
      (example only). They then receive a dictionary definition of the term
      back via SMS.

Relate: The learner as part of a social context and a network of knowledge

  • Ad-hoc networking: Programs such as “Proximity Mail” enable PDAs within Bluetooth range (approx 10 metres) to form an ad-hoc networks allowing instant messaging. Other products also allow file exchange, and operate on the longer-distance (100m) 802.11b wireless protocol. Examples of use:
    • Learners engaged in local text-based chat in a quiet environment e.g. art gallery, lecture
    • Learners share learning materials and resources in real time,
      as they discover them in their browsers or write down their own
      learning experiences
  • Instant Messaging: the preferred communication
    channel of the Net Generation. IM types include SMS/MMS between mobile
    phones, MSN Messenger (installed in Pocket PCs), and other IM products
    can be installed which operate over wireless Internet (802.11a/b/g).
    One of the most comprehensive is Agile Messenger, which supports five of the most commonly used IM clients on Pocket PCs: Yahoo, ICQ, MSN, AOL and XMPP.
  • Voice Chat: most commonly implemented in mobile
    phones, but also possible to accomplish from a PDA with a suitable
    Messaging Client installed. Some include “Press To Talk” functionality
    that allows PDAs connected to wireless internet to operate like Walkie
    Talkies.
  • Mobile Blogging:
    • Winksite demo (text), Moblog.UK
      demo (moblog)
  • Mobile Discussion: Asynchronous communication tool. Truly Flexible Mobile Learning – anywhere, anytime participation.
    • Winksite demo
  • Mobile Chat: Synchronous communication tool. Text-based group chat, allows group interaction using mobile phones (Winksite)/PDAs (ProximityMail)
    • Winksite demo
  • Mobile Wikis: Collaboration tool.
    • No free implementations (yet), but some well-documented reasons why these are/will be a Very Good Thing for learners.

Reinterpret: The learner as an analyst of existing data to discover new knowledge

  • Location-specific (potentially, situated) learning: PDA used as a processing tool to provide contextual information to learner. GPS, 2D-Barcodes, RFID tags connected with learning materials.
  • Data mining: searching a mobile database for trends and patterns in data
  • 2D Barcodes: a “bridge” between print/screen and mobile devices.
    • A QR Code could be a link to whole range of resources. Instead of a studentcopying down homework tasks, they can simply capture the information, or a linkto it, with a camera snap. When they get home, they gain access to, say, adel.icio.us (or mobilicio.us) page, wheretheir resources are assembled. Some of the resources might even be mobilethemselves, such as resources developed in mobileprep – a mobile phone flashcard creator.
    • This example links to a Wikipedia page on the video game Grand Theft Auto.With a click of their camera button, the user gets access to the information directly on their mobile device:

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