Another dot in the blogosphere?

QR codes revisited

Posted on: January 15, 2022

I started using QR codes when they were not cool. They might even have been on the wane, but I persisted because they suited my pedagogical needs.

Video source

The example above is one of my teacher education classes in 2011. It combined station and game-based learning with a QR-enabled scavenger hunt.

Most phones did not read QR codes by default so I had to include instructions in my resources for my users to download a now defunct app. 

Looking back, I think I got this hasty video done because a higher-up asked for examples of technology-mediated pedagogy. I got the help of a video cameraperson and an editor who put this video in double quick time. We were quite cheeky with the cheesy music and transitions!

Spring forward to today when QR codes returned with such a vengeance that they have become a norm. They are so common that LifeHacker thought they should offer advice on staying safe when using them.

Not all their advice was practical though. One was to ask staff at an establishment for a full URL to enter manually. The whole point of QR codes is to avoid that.

But miscreants could stick a bad QR code over a legitimate one, so what might we do then? LH suggested getting a more secure scanner instead of the one included with your phone. However, some phones might already have security baked into their operating systems.

What I actually learnt from the article was how to preview shortened URLs from bit.ly or TinyURL.

If the URL was generated by Bitly, you can simply add a plus sign (“+”) to the URL and Bitly will display a preview. Another popular URL shortener, TinyURL, offers a similar preview feature—just place “preview” in front of the shortened URL.

For example, a preview of my blog using TinyURL is https://preview.tinyurl.com/5n6nbjhb while that of bit.ly is https://bitly.com/anotherdot+.

Back to QR codes. When I started using them, they seemed novel. But that was not why I incorporated them. My main agenda was to provide a learning experience in which student teachers relied almost solely on their own phones. It was mobile learning in the form of a scavenger hunt, not the usual approach of simply stripping down desktop site information to mobile form.

I had to ensure that my learners accessed bite-sized resources at each station they visited. Being a scavenger hunt, they had to do this quickly so that they spent more time thinking and discussing instead of struggling to access a resource.

I have always called what I do technology-mediated pedagogy — the technology enables teaching and learning experiences that we might not have otherwise. It takes creative-critical design and hard work (some insight via video), but it is also great fun to do!

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