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    QR Codes on the noticeboard

    February 8th, 2012

    So there I was walking down one of the corridors in the college when I noticed that there was a QR Code on the noticeboard.

    It linked to a survey by students on bands and music, they were using surveymonkey that works well on a mobile device. The questionnaire was a simple one so could be easily completed on your mobile device.

    I think the only thing I would have changed may have been adding some idea of what the QR Code was about. Also I would have been adding a short URL to the QR Code for those that did not have a QR Code reader.

    Interesting to see learners using QR Codes on their own accord.


    Optiscan – iPhone App of the Week

    October 18th, 2011

    Optiscan – iPhone App of the Week

    This is a regular feature of the blog looking at various Apps available. Some of the apps will be useful for those involved in learning technologies, others will be useful in improving the way in which you work, whilst a few will be just plain fun! Some will be free, others will cost a little and one or two will be what some will think is quite expensive.

    This week’s App is Optiscan.

    Scan any QR code quickly and easily using your devices camera and Optiscan.

    • Create your own QR codes to share contacts, web addresses, text messages, phone numbers or locations with others.
    • Contrary to some reviews, it IS possible to create geo-location codes – use the ‘Note’ option to type (or copy/paste) the information in. This will be made easier in version 1.9.2 – due very soon!
    • Save to Photo album by holding down on the QR code image and selecting ‘Save Image’
    • Automatically scan a wide variety of QR code data formats
    • Save specific QR codes for quick sharing – perfect for sharing your business card!
    • Keep a history of QR codes created and scanned for easy recall.
    • Want to scan or generate codes in French? Japanese? No problem! Optiscan supports UTF-8, ISO-8859, and Shift-JIS.
    • Select the contact details you want to send, so the right people get the right information.
    • Found a QR code on the web? You don’t need two devices. Save the image to the photo gallery from Safari (tap and hold the image) – and Optiscan will decode them for you!
    • Optiscan runs without a network connection, and keeps your data private. Why put up with anything less?

    £1.49

    QR Codes do seem to be going mainstream at the moment and there are lots of people who are now embedding and using them in education.

    In my own college one of the Sports Lecturers on a newsletter about College Sport put in a QR code that linked to a Flickr page with more photographs on.

    The iPhone doesn’t come with a QR code reader and the older iPhones, the 3G and the 3GS, had a poor quality camera that often failed to render QR codes properly. When I had a 3GS I tried a few free QR code reader apps, but in the end after reading a review bought Optiscan.

    Of course the camera in the iPhone 4 and the 4S is superior to previous cameras and as a result the newer iPhones are much better at reading QR codes.

    It did the job really well, so have stuck with it since then.

    It reads virtually all the QR codes I have thrown at it. I also like how it retains a history of all the QR codes I have read.

    There are free QR code readers that work well on the iPhone 4 such as the QR Reader for iPhone that probably means paying for a reader isn’t necessary. However if you have the older 3GS or 3G have problems with one of the free readers then I would recommend Optiscan.

    Get Optiscan in the iTunes Store.


    Ten ways to use QR Codes

    May 26th, 2011

    Sorry, this is not a blog post on ten ways to use QR Codes, but it is a blog post about what you actually can do with QR Codes. Once you know what you can do with QR Codes then you can build learning activities round those functions.

    So what can you do with QR Codes?

    QR Codes can be used to:

    • Display text to the user.
    • Add contact details to the user’s device, a vCard.
    • Open an Uniform Resource Identifier URI (most usually a web address of some kind).
    • Compose an e-mail address with the correct address.
    • Compose an SMS text message with the correct SMS number.

    So there are five ways to use a QR Code. From those five ways, you can take an individual function and expand on how it can be used for teaching and learning, so for example taking the “open an URI” function, there are many ways that can be used to support learning.

    Knowing what the five functions are, you can then be sure that QR Codes are the correct solution to solve a particular problem.

    For example, you can use a QR Code to display text to a user. It has to be asked why would you display a QR Code to a user for text, when the text might as well be displayed, or given on paper! One reason you might for example is if you want the user to then take text move to a different location and then act on instructions in the text. With some large QR codes allowing up to 1852 characters you could provide users with some instructions or rules or something that they need to keep close. With text to speech, a user could read a QR Code and then the phone could read the text to the user. So there are reasons for using the text function of QR Codes, especially as the user won’t need any connectivity to read the text. However if displaying the text would be just as effective, why then use a QR Code?

    Adding contact details is useful, for example providing details of the Library support phone number and e-mail address. QR Codes provide a quick and easy to add those details to a user’s address book on their device.

    Opening an URI (for example a web address) is an often used function of QR Codes, we use it ourselves in the Gloucestershire College libraries. The best way though to think of QR Codes is as an URL shortener, like TinyURL, bitly or is.gd taking a long URL and providing learners with a shortened version. One mistake that people make is forgetting that when using QR Codes, the web page will 99.9% of the time be then displayed on a mobile device, probably using 3G. So there is little point in pushing out web content that won’t work on mobile devices or is huge etc…. Remembering that QR Codes are merely a way of shortening URIs for mobile devices means that users will get a better experience. Don’t just use a QR Code because you can, use it because it makes a difference, makes it easier for learners and makes it faster to access “the something else” that the learners need.

    Using QR Codes to enable a user to send an e-mail or an SMS I think is a really useful way of using the technology. Do you want more information? Do you need help? Vote for this awful singer on X-Factor! Sign up for a newsletter. Of course it implies that either their device can send e-mails or they want to pay to send a text.

    So sorry there aren’t ten ways of using a QR Code in this blog post, but I hope it clarifies what QR Codes actually do, the five actual ways to use a QR Code.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with using QR Codes, because they are QR Codes. We once did a QR Code treasure hunt, the reason though was not because we wanted to use something “awesome” no it was because we wanted to promote the use of QR Codes in the library that were been used to help students find e-resources and online content.


    e-Learning Stuff Podcast #056: QR Codes in the Library

    August 1st, 2010

    We’ve put QR Codes in the Library to enable learners quick and easy access to electronic resources.

    With James Clay.

    This is the fifty sixth e-Learning Stuff Podcast, QR Codes in the Library.

    Audio MP3

    Download the podcast in mp3 format: QR Codes in the Library

    Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes

    Shownotes


    BIG QR Codes

    June 11th, 2010

    I have been interested and using QR Codes for a while now. I mentioned them on this blog nearly three years ago.

    You then take a photograph of the barcode, and with special reader software you are able to convert the barcode into information, which could be a link to a website or just plain information.

    Since then I have used them myself a fair few times. I used them at ALT-C 2009 to allow people to more easily vote for my poster (didn’t win by the way).

    In presentations I have used them for titles or to share my contact details (though to be honest in the main to show people the potential of them).

    We are using them in the Library at our Gloucester Campus to allow learners to access more information, links and further resources.

    With the advent of Augemented Reality (AR) with Apps like Layar on the iPhone and Android, I have been wondering if there is a real future for mobile phone 3D barcodes.

    There seemed to be very little use of them made in the mainstream public environment. Though interestingly Mashable reports today on how the City of New York has “outfitted Times Square with giant QR codes”.

    [img credits: NYC Media]

    To celebrate Internet Week 2010, the City of New York outfitted Times Square with giant QR codes earlier today. It’s called “The City at Your Fingerprints” and eleven New York agencies participated in the interactive billboard initiative.

    Times Square denizens could use their smartphone barcode scanning app to scan the QR codes — which were featured in an animated sequence on the Thomson Reuters building in Times Square from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET — and pull up information relating to specific agencies being featured.

    Some mobile phones come with a reader built in, I think my Nexus One did, and the Nokia N95 certainly did. Other phones don’t and need to have an app downloaded, I use Optiscan on my iPhone for example.

    So where are we with QR Codes?

    The University of Bath have been doing some extensive work on using QR Codes in education and their blog is well worth a read.

    They are not mainstream and I know if I show them outside the mobile learning community and geekdom that most people have no idea what they are.

    Are we at a point where they will take off?

    Probably not.

    I am sure AR will mature more and will be more useful.