How does the technology extend the learning of staff and students?
This question was asked during the staff development team’s professional development day on technology. The morning we started with looking at the QR codes (quick response codes) and how they could be used within classrooms and communities to provide information quickly like websites, emails, pictures, videos, etc.
All technology has the potential both to increase engagement and disengagement, depending on how it is implemented. The ease in which learners can be lost in google searches demonstrates web activities can be a deathly spiral and cause teachers and educators that are not familiar with the technology to be turned off and fall back to their ‘regular’ teaching. The fear of the unknown and the expectation or belief that students are digital natives while the teachers are digital immigrants all both factors in preventing technology from being utilized to their fullest potential, whatever that potential may be.
Technology can extend learning by creating opportunities for students and teachers to enter into the dialogue of the learning. As the importance of using Differentiated Instruction’s KUD (Knowledge, Understanding, Do) and pre-assessments for readiness, interest and learning profile, technology can quickly and effectively pre-assess students to allow for flexible groupings and create meaningful tasks that are respectful and authentic.
For staff development (as with student learning), technology allows for conversations to continue once the instructional ‘time’ is completed. On-going conversations that allow time for reflective responses are essential in the formation of knowledge and the constructivist theory of learning.
Now, back to QR codes. New ways of using the special black and white images that encode for web addresses, emails, photos, notes and variety of other interesting bits of information are being developed and can be included in classrooms where students have access to their smart phones or can ‘borrow’ these devices to scan. There are many ways to introduce or use the QR codes. Here are three that might help (with great appreciation from Liz Dwyer’s post from her blog):
1. DIGITAL PORTFOLIOS FOR STUDENTS: If students were given a personal QR code that linked to page or a file folder that could be added to throughout the year, the students, parents and teachers would have a living record of all the successes and struggles that student had throughout the year. Video clips, artwork, assignments and creative projects could all be stored at a central location and with the simple scan of a code, be accessed.
2. CONNECTING WITH PARENTS: Teachers could have their own codes, with links to either email, blogs, notes regarding classroom set up, expectations and curricular intentions. Parents then could easily scan and read the information through any smart device.
3. ENGAGING STUDENTS: As the use of QR codes continues to grow, students could be welcomed to scan textbook codes that could show videos or explanations of problems that lie externally from the printed textbook.
As with all technology introduced, it will take a while for all the bugs to be worked out and issues around student access to be addressed. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg, and perhaps we need a QR code to help us navigate the options and cautions of QR codes, themselves…..