As a follow up to my participation in last month's innovative ICT Day at Medina High School on the Isle of Wight, I spent last Monday afternoon with the MFL department looking at ways they could use a class set of iPod Touches to engage their pupils and enhance language learning.
To give some structure to the training, I created a new page on the Posterous blog I set up to publish the podcasts we made during the two workshops in June.
We started off by exploring the potential of QR codes, how to make them and how they could be used in an educational context. Watch this nice explanation of QR codes from Common Craft for an introduction.
Referring to Sharon Tonner's wonderful explanations on her I-C-T wiki, I demonstrated how easy it was to make different types of QR code with the site Sparqcode and within minutes we had created one linking to a URL and the other to some text. The advantage of the latter being that it will work offline as well as on. To read the codes, I recommended the free app I-nigma which works instantaneously when pointed in the right direction.
We then discussed how we could employ QR codes in language lessons.
e.g. For a URL QR code
- To launch an mp3 file
- To play a video
- To visit an authentic website and answer some comprehension exercises
My favourite idea was to give students cards with QR codes on them linking to a text response whereby they would have to find their partner who had the answer to their question or the same information as them. Preparing the exercise wouldn't be too time-consuming as you could use the Teachers Pet toolbar to make picture flashcards in a few clicks or copy and paste multiple QR codes into a Word document, print it off on to card and cut them up from there.
Alternatively, you could just use Russell Tarr's wonderful QR Treasure Hunt Generator! which simplifies the process even more by creating the necessary QR codes for each question along with an answer sheet. Moreover, your devices don't have to be online for this to work and you need to input a minimum of five questions and answers. Try out his bookmarklet too which can generate a QR code of the web page you are on or any highlighted text on that page! The QR codes can then be copied and pasted into a document, printed off and cut up as previously suggested. The beauty of the text ones is that they don't need a connected device to work. Just think of the exciting exercises this could generate in MFL and yes QR codes can deal with accents!
Have a look too at QR code voting with Qwikvotes! The idea is a teacher sets the question, students scan generated QR code of their choice and then teacher clicks on show results.
For QR codes which link to URLs, another way of saving time would be to create a customised URL using the link shortening service Snipurl. This would mean you could use the same QR code, but change the URL it launches each time.
For example, the image at the top of this post is a QR code which links to http://sn.im/medinamfl, the shortened form of http://medinaictday.posterous.com/pages/mfl. I made this using the nickname medinamfl and I added medina as a Private Key to make my snipping private.
By clicking on the Manage Snips tab and Edit, you can see that you can change the Long URL and hit the Save Changes button without changing the shortened form. In this way, you can create a range of customised links with different nicknames e.g medinamfl1, medinamfl2 etc and generate QR codes for each one. These QR codes will not need to change because they will always link to the same customised URL. However, by changing the Long URL, the link that opens as a result can be different and so could be regularly updated for different purposes.
If you add a Private Key to your customised link, you will need to enter it and click Fetch my URL before being able to access the desired web page. To avoid this extra step, but keep your snipping private, you can add your Private Key after your link e.g. http://sn.im/medinamfl-medina
Both methods will ensure your snippings will not appear in the public timeline so it's up to you to choose which you prefer. Unfortunately, this will not work with text QR Codes only URL ones.
There are various apps which allow you to generate a QR code directly from your iPod Touch. Easy QR is my favourite as it is free and has a very simple clean interface. Using the text option, you can create QR codes for texts as well as URLs and save them as images in your Camera Roll so they can be scanned later.
One idea would be to make a QR code from a long piece of text and display the image on the board. Pupils could scan it in and then complete a Google Form also accessed via a QR code to show they had understood the contents. To finish, you could display the results on the board and go over the answers. Alternatively, pupils could generate their own QR codes and do a pair or group work activity which you would traditionally complete on paper.
Allanah King has writtten a series of blog posts about using QR codes in the classroom including this one on promoting creative writing which could lend itself well to MFL.
We also watched Kelda Richards' brilliant clip le mur parlant which shows how to combine a QR code with the augmented reality app Aurasma and launch video clips from a picture prompt! Aurasmic!
- Use Russel Tarr’s bookmarklet to create giant URL QR codes in one click on the interactive whiteboard so students can quickly scan them and transfer the content on to their handheld device. See this process in action in this clip from Ollie Bray published in 2008. To create a text QR code, highlight the text in question first before clicking the bookmarklet.
- Give students QR codes which link to revision PowerPoint presentations you’ve published on Slideshare so they can watch them on their mobile devices. You could embed a YouTube clip containing supplementary material which runs on one of the slides. This would work fine unless you wanted to make a Slidecast by synchronising an mp3 file with your presentation in which case, you could add a QR code on the slide in question and ask students to pause, watch the clip and then press play again. The QR code linking to the SlideShare version of a class presentation could be added to the last slide as a matter of course.
- To enhance a departmental portfolio of levelled pieces of work, use QR codes to launch audio or video clips as evidence of speaking. Likewise, add QR codes to your prospectus linking to impressive multimedia outcomes highlighting the strengths of the school.
- Use Sparqcode to generate a set of QR codes linking to Google Maps for a lesson on directions. Give pupils written or spoken instructions for where they need to go via a text or URL QR code and ask them to label the final destination they reach having followed the instructions.
- Give pupils a QR code which launches the email client on their handheld device as a way of simplifying the process of handing in work or sending you the URL of a web based project they’ve completed. This could be the email they need to publish resources on to a class Posterous site although they could use the dedicated app for this as well.
- Create a text QR code for the login details needed to access a site or resource so they are always kept in the device’s history. In the same way, use a QR code to access the school’s wifi system!
- Produce a QR code with a personalised graphic with the site BeQRious
- Stick a URL QR code linking to work carried out in an ICT suite as proof of outcomes in pupils’ exercise books.
- Create a QR code of an RSS feed to make it easier for students to subscribe to blogs and podcasts.
- Use Snap.vu or BWScan to find out how many times a QR code has been scanned and by how many unique visitors. Choose the former if you want to clear results and receive email notifications. Choose the latter for more detailed analytics
Curious? Head of MFL, Annalise Adam has written a quick start guide for QR code newbies. Sam Lunn has also blogged about how she plans to use QR codes this coming term and Kath Holton has already tweeted how she is going to create QR codes linking to Zondle games via her departmental wiki. Way to go Kath! To top it all, James Pearson has made a QR code quiz to celebrate European Day of Languages on 26th September and Alex Blagona has created a QR code poster for his classroom linking to useful sites.
For ILILC 2012, I’ve been reflecting on the possibilities of integrating QR codes into procedures and so far have come up with the following:
- Create a QR code which links to a mobile friendly WebDoc full of multimedia goodness. Thanks to Shelly Terrell for the inspiration for this idea. This could be incorporated into a blog badge or added to any paper literature about the conference.
- Put a QR code next to speaker’s bios in the conference programme which link to their respective blogs.
- Create a multimedia QR code quiz to be completed between presentations at the MFL Show and Tell. Pub Quiz for the 21st century?
- Link a QR code to the new Languages South East Facebook page and encourage people to Like it!
Following on from the excitement of QR codes with the iPod Touch we turned our attentions to using the mobile devices as a classroom response system using Poll Everywhere. Again we referred to Sharon Tonner's wonderful notes on the subject and proceeded to create and take part in a multiple choice and short answer poll.
Here is an example Free Text poll to show you how it works with the iPod Touch or any other handheld device connected to the web.
click Save new poll.
On the right hand side, untick the box next to Text messages from and make sure there is a tick in the box by Web devices on.
Make a note of the number you need to use for your web response and go to http://pollev.com to submit it with your answer.
Return to the page where the answers to your poll are displayed to see your response.
Please note you can carry out a poll without being registered and your answers will be deleted after two weeks. Once the poll is finished though you can choose to click the Stop Poll button. You can also download a PowerPoint slide which contains the poll too and include it in a presentation.
Next we looked at recording audio on the iPod Touch. There are many apps which allow you to do this including the default Voice Memos app. One issue is the format the audio records in (m4a, AIFF, mp3, caf etc) and the second is how to transfer it off the device, if it needs editing and publishing.
John Johnston is an expert in this field and has recommended two apps to me. The first is iTalk recorder which is free, allows you to rename your files on the device and lets you sync your recordings with your PC with the free iTalk Sync program. It records audio as AIFF files which means they can be edited in Audacity and converted to mp3 using the Lame encoder.
The second app is VR+ Voice which costs £1.19 on the app store and records directly as mp3. You can also transfer the files wirelessly from the device to a computer using a URL. Listen to John singing its praises here as well as Wifi Photo Transfer which works in the same way, but for images.
I demoed iTalk and showed how to download files from the iPod Touch. They were suitably impressed!
To finish the session we talked about file management using DropBox and touched upon the digital storytelling apps SonicPics and Our Story. The latter looks particularly good and was designed by the Open University to promote reading.
To find out more about the practicalities of using iPod and iPads in the classroom, have a listen to this fascinating online panel discussion from Edutalk and for an MFL specific approach, check out this recent Linked Up project from Nottingham which includes a lot of practical advice and interesting outcomes.
Check out as well my MFLedapps blog which features links and video clips of many apps I feel could be useful in enhancing language learning. I've used tags on the right hand side to specify in which skill area they could be particularly effective, if they are free or not and if they are for the iPod or iPad. A good place to find educational apps is on Twitter. Search for edapps and you're bound to find some gems!
Isabelle Jones has also put together a fantastic list of apps for the language teacher which is well worth a look too and if you are planning to come to ILILC 2012, there will be a session or two on using iPods and iPads in the MFL classroom for you to enjoy.
I'll be very interested to hear how the MFL department at Medina get on with the iPods next academic year and see what impact they have on the pupils' learning. I hope they keep in Touch ;-)