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Showcasing Student Work with QR Codes

We believe that one of the key elements of inquiry based learning is designing student work with an authentic and purposeful audience in mind. It's a key piece of the inquiry rubric that we use to guide our understanding of effective inquiry-based learning.

We are continually trying to find places where student work can live beyond just the teacher's desk, including submitting work to film festivals, posting student videos online, providing opportunities for students to share their ideas with Faculty of Education professors, and creating online museums of student work.

However, one of the simplest, easiest and most effective places to showcase student work is within our own school building.

Like most schools, we believe the walls of our school should be covered with examples of student projects, artwork, ideas and initiatives. While school walls are a great place to showcase students 2D work (posters and artwork) what happens when student work is 3D or multimedia?

How do you staple a student-created documentary or music video to a bulletin board?

With that in mind, we have a few of our teachers experimenting with how the presentation of student work can be enhanced by using something called QR (quick response) codes.

QR codes are a basic form of augmented reality - the layering of digital information onto the real world. You have probably seen QR codes as they are becoming more popular in advertising and product design. Basically a QR code is like a UPC code - except it provides a shortcut to information that lives online somewhere.

For example, a company might want you to visit their website to get additional, multi-media information about a product you bought - so they create a QR code that you can scan with a web-enabled mobile device (iPhone, iPad2, smartphone, etc) that will take you to the site. In order to scan QR codes, you need to have an QR code scanning app on a device with a camera.

For example, if you have such a device, run the app the point the camera at the QR code above.

Why would you want to do this in a school? While there are many uses for QR codes, we're excited about the potential of layering our students' multi-media work around our school.

For example, our grade 8's are currently working on a project where they're remixing historical images to create a digital collage that represents their understanding of the positive and negative aspects of the Renaissance. We plan on printing off all the pieces of students' work and showcasing them around the school.

However, by adding a QR code to each piece of student work, we can now add an additional layer of information. In this case, each student is going to create a short video podcast for their work, explaining the image choices and their historical significance.

Think of it as a 'video museum guide' attached to each piece of work. Now when people tour the school, if they have a smartphone, iPad or iPod touch, they can scan the QR code and watch a short video explaining the student work.

The process for creating a QR code is very simple. (1) The file that you want to link to needs to be posted online somewhere. For example, we use Vimeo to host all our school videos. (2) Google 'QR code generator' to find a website that creates QR codes. (3) Paste the link for the file into the QR code generator. (4) Copy the QR code and add it to your documents.

We're excited about how this will allow us to showcase all sorts of student videos that would have been impossible before. We see using QR codes in numerous places around the school, including:
  • explanations of student work (for example, creating student artist statements)
  • student's own personal video productions placed around the school
  • adding Public Service videos to Public Service posters (i.e., anti-bullying, nutrition)
  • adding short commericals to posters about student clubs (join the track team!)
  • posting short, how-to physical activity videos around our gym
  • posting student created news stories in specific locations around the school
  • creating a school tour with examples of student work
  • linking a QR code to a Google Form to sign up for teams, events, etc
What other examples can you think of? Where could you see your school posting student created videos (informational, artistic or entertaining) that would benefit the student or the school?


Alan Stange said...

You have a great idea here.

hdickens said...

Wonderful idea can't wait to share at my next workshop!

Neil Stephenson said...

hdickens.. let me know if there's anything I can do to help with QR codes. We've got a more ideas coming!

Tracy Brady said...

You just made my day!!! Our school presents an annual Festival of Nations which showcases the different cultures that make up our student population. Each exhibit includes foods, costumes, artifacts, and crafts, but we have been unable to include any digital student work because extension cords from laptops to wall outlets present a safety hazard. With QR codes, laptops become unnecessary!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Neil Stephenson said...

Tracy. Thanks for the great idea! We do a similar Peace Festival every year. I'm definitely stealing your idea. Let us know how it goes with your QR code experiment.

beyondtech said...

We just introduced QR Codes in a real way with our staffs this year. Thanks for another example of what can be a powerful use to invite the world into student thinking process.

Neil Stephenson said...

@beyondtech That's great. There's some powerful things you can do with QR codes - how are you using them?

Anonymous said...

I currently use QR codes on my office door and course outlines to share additional course and instructor information for students but this provides some further ideas regarding linking to video/audio content. Also going to ponder on how to use QR codes to showcase student work at the university level...hmmm...Thanks Neil!

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