Smart Use of Smart Phones. Michael Jones packed the room with teachers eager to learn more about using technology in the classroom. Michael is currently teaching at Woosong University in Korea, and he has had much success in using smart phones to deliver content to his students. His presentation introduced practical and engaging uses of QR codes.
We got a 30-second history lesson when Michael explained how quick reaction codes were originally invented by Toyota back in 1994 to control inventory. These matrix barcodes proved to have faster readability and larger storage capacity than UPC barcodes. Today many outside the automotive industry are using QR codes as a content delivery method.
Michael demonstrated how to generate a QR code on QR Stuff, a free online code generator. The website offers a clear 4-step process, and the output choices include downloading, printing, and emailing the code. Michael pointed out that all TESOL attendees had QR codes on their badges, and indeed it seemed the in thing was to have a QR code on a business card or even in place of a business card.
Those participants who had yet to install a QR reader app did so quickly, and Michael then demonstrated possibilities. He warned that there were limitations, of course, as there are with any piece of technology. Do all your students have smart phones and know how to use QR codes? Will some pre-teaching be necessary? How is the Internet connection? (I mentally added, “What if batteries are running low?”) Once everything is in place, however, QR codes can be used for:
- administrative uses = Save paper. Post a single-sheet printout at the door and let students scan and download the homework assignment as they leave.
- paperless tasks = A website URL or Dropbox link can easily be converted into a code. Michael asked us to do a poll, complete a quiz, and submit ideas on a Google Docs all via QR codes.
- content delivery in the classroom = Delivering content to students’ phones can replace the use of slides on a projector.
- class projects = Michael has had his students exchange movie reviews and surveys via QR codes.
One of my favorite activities in this session was Michael’s use of two similar pictures. Working in pairs, one partner scanned code A and the other scanned code B. We each had a line drawing on our smart phones and were instructed to try to identify the differences without showing our partners our versions of the picture. A lot of language was produced. For example, I said, “In my picture there are three birds in the sky.” My partner replied, “There are no birds in my picture.” You may have done something similar on paper, but why waste paper if you don’t have to? Also, as Michael pointed out in his session description, why not leverage your students’ interest in mobile technology to increase their motivation?
Great job, Michael! Many thanks!
Electronic Village Highlights to come! (The last of my TESOL summaries!)