“The outdoor environment has massive potential for learning” Learning and Teaching Scotland (2010)
Many would argue that Scotland doesn’t have the correct weather for outdoor learning, this is something that I disagree with. Many children love the outdoors, no matter what the weather is like. Children love to jump in puddles, look at the raindrops on the grass and flowers, make snowmen or simply bask in the sun. In my experience, it is the adults who do not wish to venture outdoors, not the children.
Outdoor learning can, and should, be experienced in many different areas within the community including school grounds, the countryside, urban green space or in wider environments. Outdoor learning encourages a healthier lifestyle in our learners, helps to build stronger communities by developing skills such as managing risk when making decisions and encourages learners to engage with the natural environment and understand the significance of sustainability. Opportunities for outdoor learning are available across and within all areas of the curriculum for excellence (Learning and Teaching Scotland, 2010).
On finding out that we had an outdoor learning input in digital technologies I was confused and intrigued as to how digital technologies could be incorporated into outdoor learning. Having done some reading on the subject, I am now aware that digital technology can be an “important aspect” of outdoor learning experiences. When technology is used in the correct way, it can add significant value to outdoor learning. There are many digital devices which can be used in the outdoor environment including digital cameras to capture photographs which can enable learners to examine and explore their environment in more detail; voice recorders allow learners to capture memories or sounds in the environment which may otherwise be forgotten; GPS devices allow learners to become familiar with mapping technology and to share journeys with one another as well as being able to participate in outdoor experiences such as geocaching (Education Scotland, n.d.).
In digital technologies this week we were tasked to use QR codes to create a fun activity to promote outdoor learning.
QR means “Quick Response”, a QR code is an image-based hyperlink which is a type of two-dimensional bar code. QR codes are scanned using a mobile phone via a QR reader app, some modern mobile phones have QR readers built in to their cameras. These QR codes can link users to text, audio clips, websites, telephone numbers, email addresses, map locations, calendar events and much more. The below photo is a visual representation of a QR code.
With the vast amount of information that can be stored and accessed using QR codes they are an excellent tool for educators to use for outdoor learning across all areas of the curriculum. Some lessons that QR codes and outdoor learning may be incorporated into are spelling treasure hunt where the user must scan different QR codes in different outdoor locations to collect a letter and then work out a word from the letters they have collected, this could be used for common words, words from an IDL topic and many more. QR codes and outdoor learning can be used effectively in several areas of the curriculum including physical education, English, mathematics, science and health and wellbeing.
We were asked to work in small groups for this activity and the group that I was part of planned a health and wellbeing lesson which incorporated QR codes and outdoor learning. When completed, we then tasked another group to complete our lesson and we completed theirs. Our lesson had the learning intention:
“I am aware of how friendships are formed and that likes, dislikes, special qualities and needs can influence relationships” HWB 0-44a / HWB 1-44a (Education Scotland, n.d. P.44).
It included the success criteria of “I can successfully identify my peers through their likes, dislikes and family by using quick response (QR) digital technology”. This helped to ensure that those participating in the activity are aware of what they should gain from the experience.
The task we posed to the other group was entitled “getting to know you” and tasked the group to navigate around their classmates, no matter where their classmates were, and ask them the set questions of their favourite colour, food, animal and how many siblings they have. The group should then scan their classmates QR code to find out if they have a letter attached to them. All QR codes within the class should be scanned and classmates may be indoors or outdoors, once all QR codes are scanned a word can be made from the letters collected. Only 6 members of the class were given profiles with letters attached which spelled out the word “friends”, the others were given QR codes with the message “I don’t have a letter but thank you for finding out about me”.
The photo below is a visual representation of a profile created for this task.
I was really happy with the task that my peers and I created as it is inclusive of many curricular areas including outdoor learning, health and wellbeing and literacy. The idea of profiles being used to get to know others is an excellent idea for around the school. QR codes could be permanently placed throughout the school with profiles for trusted adults such as janitor, office staff and head teachers. Classrooms could have QR codes on doors which could be scanned before entering to confirm the teachers name and class, or simply to tell the user a little about that teacher. This is an excellent way for children to explore the school surroundings and learn about the staff within the school.
Some of the Curriculum for Excellence outcomes that are suitable for this lesson are listed below.
I can explore digital technologies and use what I learn to solve problems and share ideas and thoughts. TCH 0-01a (Education Scotland, n.d. P.307).
I can explore, play and communicate using digital technologies safely and securely. TCH 0-03a (Education Scotland, n.d. P.307).
I am enjoying daily opportunities to participate in different kinds of energetic play, both outdoors and indoors. HWB 0-25 (Education Scotland, n.d. P.16).
I can spell most of the words I need to communicate, using spelling rules, specialist vocabulary, self-correction techniques and a range of resources. LIT 2-21a (Education Scotland, n.d. P.141).
On speaking to the group who participated in this task, they commented that this was an excellent task to help them to speak to members of the cohort whom they did not know well or speak to often, they also found that it was very engaging and enjoyable. They would have liked to have more time to complete the activity and would have enjoyed if the whole task was outdoors. The timing of the task would have to be taken into consideration for this task. If children are working in groups and speaking to everyone in their class, asking questions and noting down answers then time would need to be plentiful. It may take children a whole afternoon to complete this.
The below photo is a visual representation of the task sheet given to children to aid completion of this task.
The task that we were asked to complete was a mathematics shopping task where we were given a budget of £10 and had to scan QR codes in various locations in order to “purchase” our items and calculate the amount of money required to purchase the items. We also had to calculate our change after “purchasing” each item, the scanned codes told us to progress to another location to “purchase” our next item. The second last QR code asked if we had enough money left over to “purchase” two more items and we had to decide if we did and calculate any change left. The final QR code scanned congratulated us for completing the task and confirmed the amount of change that we were left with.
I enjoyed participating in this QR code task, it was very engaging and was a fun and different way to tackle mathematics problems. There was not much time to complete the task which meant that we had to run around a lot and calculate the amounts very quickly. This is another task where timing would have to be considered carefully when planning for a whole class.
Overall, QR codes are an excellent tool to use for many activities including outdoor learning. Outdoor learning helps to develop essential skills and promotes a healthy lifestyle, QR codes are a way to further engage children in this learning and bring digital technologies to the outdoors. I feel confident using QR code technology within the classroom and it is a resource that I hope to utilise during outdoor learning as a practitioner.
Education Scotland. (n.d.) Curriculum for Excellence.[Online] Available: https://education.gov.scot/Documents/All-experiencesoutcomes18.pdf. [Accessed 12 March 2019].
Education Scotland (n.d.) Outdoor Learning Practical guidance, ideas and support for teachers and practitioners in Scotland.[Online] Available: https://education.gov.scot/improvement/documents/hwb24-ol-support.pdf. [Accessed: 12March 2019].
Learning and Teaching Scotland. (2010) Curriculum for excellence through outdoor learning. [Online] Available: https://education.gov.scot/Documents/cfe-through-outdoor-learning.pdf. [Accessed: 12 March 2019].