Monday, July 11, 2011

QR Codes in the Real World

It always seems that once you learn about something, it ends up popping up everywhere. This has become true for me with QR codes. Before this summer, I really had no idea what they were and I had maybe seen them once or twice but did not know the specifics. With my research and posting last week, I became much more interested and intrigued at the capabilities of these QR codes and the possibilities for use in the classroom. Since my last post, I have encountered QR codes several times (more times than I have in the past year) in the past few days.

1. Traveling to a family reunion in Wisconsin, I rode along with my sister. Talking with her about the current classes I was taking, our talk eventually turned to QR codes (I had sent my sister a link about them, saying we should use them for our next family scavenger hunt). As we were talking, my sister was flipping through a magazine. Lo and behold, a QR code popped up on one of the pages. Having not downloaded a QR code on my iPhone yet, we quickly downloaded one, filled with excitement to see what happened when we scanned the little box of black lines. Attached to a story about a band, the QR code once scanned, led us to a video of a live performance by the band, streaming from youtube. As we listened and watched the song, we were amazed at how easily physical text could be integrated with mobile phone technology. The QR code gave us something that was not possible with text alone: it gave us an opportunity to bring to life the description of the band, listening to a
song in an instant. Our reading experience became multidimensional. (See example page below from Relevant magazine.)

2. The other instance I encountered QR codes this past weekend was later that night at a local musical festival. When entering the festival, there was a sign promoting the event with a large QR code in the center. It promoted a prize drawing for those who scanned the QR code with multiple opportunities to scan multiple codes. Once I scanned the sign, I was directed to a site where I could enter my name and phone number in order to enter the drawing. I was given another QR code card when I bought food, and found a complete list of where I could scan various QR codes; festival workers tshirts, at different stores around town, and at different community sites throughout town. It ultimately was a large advertising campaign for the town.

Example of QR codes in advertising

As I have thought more about QR codes, I began to think about the possibilities for students whose first language is not English, most relevant for me, students whose first language is American Sign Language (ASL). One of the greatest challenges for students who are Deaf is developing English language skills. High school students who are deaf typically graduate with a 4th grade reading level. The nuances of English, especially within textbooks, are difficult to understand when reading is one dimensional. Often times, teachers of Deaf students will have students read a text, then have it signed in their own language, either by the teacher or by the students. This allows greater comprehension of a written language through a visual language. QR codes could create an avenue to bring difficult texts to the level of the reader. It seems possible, that a QR code connected to a specific text could be a link to a visual representation of the reading, presenting the text visually through sign language. This allows the student to read independently, with a greater possibility of genuine comprehension. The students could ultimately be asked to create their own videos corresponding to readings, allowing the student to show competence in reading English and translating it to ASL.

Though I must move on from my QR inquiry to explore other tech devices, apps, and programs, I will still be brainstorming ideas on how to incorporate QR codes into special education. And I hope to create my own QR code soon.

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