Digital Technologies allow children to explore many different skills and explore various environments. This week we focussed on QR Codes and the outdoor learning environment. A QR code is “a pattern of black and white squares that can be read by a smart phone, allowing the phone user to get more information about something. QR Code is an abbreviation for quick response code”(Collins, 2019). Before attending this class, I had never really explored QR codes and their use as I had never needed to use them. However, I quickly found out that QR codes are becoming more popular in the primary classroom. This week I was able to learn about their usage, how to create my own and also trying to create a child friendly activity which could be used in my own future classroom. We also had a focus surrounding outdoor learning and its positive impact on the children learning. This also allowed me to reflect on my own activities in the past which I had conducted outside.
QR codes are useful in a variety of ways. They enable a link between the code and the device providing additional information on a subject. By scanning QR codes, the person or people viewing the device can see images, web links or messages which could give instructions, ideas or facts surrounding a particular topic. You may see QR codes on company billboards which will provide people with further information about the companies job or how they can be of service to the individual. Now you may be thinking “how can this be used within a classroom environment?” Well, it can be used for a variety of activities or reasons such as
- Book Reviews
- Treasure Hunts
- Facts on Class Topics
- Interactive Activities
- Questions for the Class
- Youtube Links
I think one of my favourite ideas for these QR codes are for providing extra activities for those learners who finish early (Mauk, 2017). This would be useful as it allows the class teacher to continue helping the other children with the class activities while stimulating the brains of the other learners giving them a further understanding of the topic. I see why QR codes are useful in education, however, reflecting on the knowledge that I know, I do not think this would be my first method I would use in my classroom. I think that they take too much time to create using the online QR generators as the activity may only take a couple of minutes. However, I do think it would support the ‘digitally native’ classroom so maybe I just need to try and have a better understanding of the technology behind QR codes and continue to practice planning my own activities (Prensky, 2001).
Another aspect looked at us this week was the importance of outdoor learning in a school environment. It is thought that when a child has a learning experience outside, it will remain relevant to them in later memories. This is because the child can see topics learned relating to their own real life context (Learning and Teaching Scotland, 2010). Learning outside can also be seen as fun and motivational encouraging the children to partake in the activities (Education Scotland, 2010). It’s also thought that the outdoor environment allows children to roam more freely exploring their surroundings and its a more natural setting for children than the classroom (Maynard and Waters, 2007). Outdoor Learning is a subject which I have been aware of the last 3 years due to my NC and HNC in Childhood Practice. I have been able to conduct activities in the outdoor setting in both the nursery and primary school setting. Thinking back now, I can say that these activities were more engaging for the children as they loved to be outside and enjoyed a new setting from the day to day classroom. All the children that I have worked with have always preferred the outdoor learning sessions that I held and I think that it is important to cater to the child’s needs. This is an area which I will continue to support in my future classroom.
Outdoor learning also relates to the Scottish Governments Policy of Getting It Right For Every Child (G.I.R.F.E.C). This policy includes the Shanarri Wheel which states aims which schools should try to achieve [The Scottish Government, 2018).
When in relation to outdoor learning, the segment of active can be achieved as we can encourage exercise in the outdoors, respected can be achieved as outdoor learning includes cooperation, responsible can be achieved as responsibilities can be given out in leadership games, safe needs to be achieved as we must ensure the outdoor environment cooperates with the schools health and safety policies, healthy will be achieved as the children again are gaining time to exercise and use the outdoor area, achieving will be achieved as games including technology can be used where the children must aim to achieve the final answer or goal and nurtured can be achieved by ensuring that we are catering to the child’s individual needs. This is incredibly important to achieve as this is how we as teachers can show that we understand that every individuals needs matter and we need to ensure that we understand the importance of getting it right for all.
So where can we relate QR codes and outdoor learning? That was our task for todays class as we all had to create a digital QR treasure hunt! Using an online QR generator, we created a variety of QR codes which all conveyed different questions, hints and answers. We began by planning out our locations and questions and what topics we should be using .
As you can see in the image, we decided to focus on a maths revision game. This allowed our peers to search the university while gaining the educational benefit of maths questions . A critique we got about our activity was that it was very broad and if we had focused on one area of maths it may have had made more of an impact. Creating the QR codes was a challenge as we quickly learned that long messages do not show up properly and we would need to reduce the amount of characters we had been using. Also this was very time consuming so in the future, I would like to find a program which may create these at a faster speed. However, I was impressed by how easily we could generate a new code. Our activity consisted of our peers having to scan our codes to answer questions to receive a letter to create a mystery word at the final destination. The word was ‘Calculator’ to ensure we were focusing on the main theme of maths.
The other group provided us with some positive feedback which I would like to reflect on. They said they enjoyed the challenge of finding each new code. This to me was important as challenge and enjoyment are 2 of the 7 design principles (Education Scotland, 2010). By giving the children a challenge, it can help to stimulate their minds and provide a more beneficial experience. They also said that the time was good as it would probably take the children slightly longer. On reflection, this would work well as you do not want to create an activity which you have spent an hour on for it to last around 2 minutes. This is why I will ensure that I will create activities which last for a good period of time. My personal opinion is that I would use this idea within my classroom and I am leaving todays class with a more open mind about the use of QR codes in an educational setting. I think I would take the other groups advice by focusing on one area of maths rather that expanding it to many other topics. I also feel this activity could be used with many other parts of the curriculum.
The CFE code that was used for this activity was:
- ” I can use digital technologies to search, access and retrieve information and am aware that not all of this information will be credible” – TCH 2-02A
There was also many maths experiences and outcomes which could be achieved due to several topics our group focused on. As mentioned above, in the future I will be choosing one topic to help children have a better understanding.
After these further reflections and the creation of our activity, my mind has been changed slightly and I will be trying to incorporate QR codes into my classroom. I think the book review idea is my favourite as an avid reader, this would be helpful for the children to see another child’s point of view. I think outdoor learning is important in todays society and I will support it within my own practice. I cannot wait to implement all of the above ideas into my own teaching career.
References within this blog:
Collins. (2019) Definition of ‘QR code.’[Online] Available: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/qr-code [Accessed: 20 March 2019].
Education Scotland (2010) Curriculum for Excellence Through Outdoor Learning.
Learning and Teaching Scotland (2010) Curriculum for Excellence Through Outdoor Learning.
Maynard, T, Waters, J (2007) Learning in the outdoor environment: a missed opportunity?. Early Years.[Online] Volume 27(3) pp 255-265. Available: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09575140701594400?needAccess=true [Accessed: 20 March 2019].
Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants MCB University Press.
The Scottish Government. (2018) Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC).[Online] Available: https://www2.gov.scot/gettingitright[Accessed: 20 March 2019].