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Leveraging mobile technologies and Web 2.0 tools to engage those with an interest in the centenary of the First World War in the stories of the people of the era using strategically placed Quick Response codes.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Feb 2014, 16:56

If you are doing a Masters of Open and Distance Education Module (MAODE) you should be aware of an interested in the conference that is currently running in CloudWorks and OULive.

Access to the conference sessions is limited to H818 participants, MA ODE alumni, and IET staff.

If you fall into one of these categories and would like to register for the conference, please complete this short Registration Form.

Fig. 1. Lewes War Memorial, East Sussex, England     J F Vernon (2011)

The problem with war memorials is that those named on them risk becoming forgotten words on a list.

By using the Web we can find out who these people named on the war memorials were and where they lived; we can try to put a face to the name and a story to the name  … and then we can share what we find.

There are more than 54,000 war memorials in Great Britain, most of these put up after the First World War. There is barely a community without one. Significant interest already exists, especially as we approach the centenary of the First World War making this initiative a potentially easy one to add to what is already taking place. 

 

Fig. 2. British Legion Poppy featuring a Quick Response Code

In his 2011 book ‘The Digital Scholar’ Martin Weller  shares the thoughts of Brian Lamb to describe those technologies that ‘lend themselves to … the networked and open approach’ as ‘fast, cheap and out of control’. It was with this in mind, taking an interest in the centenary of the First World War and obsession with war memorials that I started to think about using Quick Response codes as a personalised entry point to the Web that anyone could generate in order to share a story about someone who served in the conflict, and to do so both online and on the street. Quick Response codes are fast, they are free and their potential in learning has yet to be realised.

Worn in this way, featured in the center of your commemoration Poppy, you can share directly with others the person whose life you wish to remember, as well as directing people to the content online and inviting them to ‘adopt’ a name from a war memorial themselves. Though exploiting the Web, this is designed as a ‘blended’ experience that uses face-to-face, community and classroom experiences, as well as taking people outside to monuments, buildings, streets and battlefields.

 

    Esponsorvik (2014 )

Fig. 3. Toyota Quick Response Code and Using a TV remote control Espensorvik. Flickr

‘QR codes’ are a product of the car manufacturing industry. Faced with increasingly complex components, Denso, a supplier to Toyota, came up with what is a 2 dimensional bar code in the 1990s (Denso, 2010). Made free of patent, and using free software anyone can now generate their own unique QR code. You can even print them out on standardised sticky label stationery.

Fig. 4. Google Search ‘Quick Response Codes Education Images’ (2014)

There are a myriad of uses for QR codes, from embedding information that is read and stored by the device to a quick link to rich content online. Barrett, 2012). The interest here is to use QR codes to link to learning resources, in mobile, or ‘m-learning’ contexts in particular and for users to both read and write such context. I liken QR codes to using your phone as a remote control to click to a TV channel (Fig 3) . You point a smartphone, or tablet at the QR code to read it and go instantly, pretty much, to a web page.

Their use in education in the last decade has been limited. ‘Refereed (sic) papers are few’ (Gradel & Edson, 2012), but between these and other published reports, suggestions can be made regarding their strengths or weaknesses.

If QR codes are to be used successfully then champions need to be identified to take up the cause in schools, colleges and local associations. Whilst QR codes use the power of the Web to connect people to rich content, that they may create themselves, a good deal of thoughtful planning will be necessary ‘in the classroom’, not just explaining how to make use of QR codes, but also working them in, where appropriate to current learning schedules where QR codes used in this way will meet clear learning objectives. Support online could be provided in a short eLearning module. What has been shown repeatedly, in museums and ‘out in the field’, is that simply ‘put out there’ the QR codes are ignored (Gradel & Edson, 2012). An innovation such as this requires considerable promotion and support.  This makes the idea of wearing your own QR code on a Commemoration Poppy all the more appealing, as each person becomes an ambassador on the ground, for that nugget of information, especially if they are responsible for creating and hosting that content. The opportunity exists, therefore, mentored and guided by educators, with support online, for schools, colleges and associations to engage people in bringing the stories of those named on our war memorials alive. In this way a deeper and more meaningful connection is made with the past and our relationship to it.

Copyright © 2010, The New York Times Company. Photography by Jim Wilson

Fig. 5. Handheld curator:  IPod Touches and visitors at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. (The New York Times)

According to the 2009 Horizon report (Horizon, 2009) the following would be of growing significance in teaching: mobile devices, clouding computing and the personal web. As an innovative approach, QR codes exploit all three of these developments.

Use of QR codes in learning however has had mixed results. Simply putting a QR code in front of a museum artifact, as they’ve done at the Museum of London and did at the Design Museum does not work (Vernon, 2013)  – there is plenty already, there is little to attract or promote their use, not everyone has a smartphone or tablet of course and the technology is often not robust – ‘out of use’ signs are familiar. Outdoors QR codes added to signs in the South Downs National Park, for example, barely received a view a day during a three month trial and in some instances there was no signal at all (Kerry-Bedel 2011; South Downs, 2012).

Where QR codes have been successful is in targeted learning experiences in schools (Tucker, 2011; Gradel & Edson, 2012), where the affordances of the QR code have been exploited to form part of an engaging, constructive and collective learning experience. To be effective this initiative with war memorials requires galvanising people to take part in a joint exercise – easier with a class in school or college, less easy with the general public unless it is through a national, regional or local community association or interest group.

Examples where QR codes work include where participants are ‘equipped’, and where they can take an active role, such as in ‘on the spot’ surveys or quizzes, where they are prompted into cooperative learning and where timely ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ are given. (Awano, 2007: Information Standards Committee 2008; So 2008; Robinson, 2010; Hicks & Sinkinson, 2011; Ryerson Library & Archives, 2012.)

K Lepi (2012)Copyright 2013 © Edudemic All rights reserved

Fig 6 . A Simple Guide to Four Complex  Learning Theories. Lepi (2012)

The theory behind the idea of using QR codes in a mobile and open way, is that in the digital age ‘connectivism’ is the ‘modus operandi’. In this diagram (Fig. 5)  from Edudemic (Edudemic 2012) traditional and digital theories are concerned. All are relevant, each has its place, with the digital environment offering new and additional approaches to learning.

Whilst traditional learning methods have their role in schools, lecture halls and with mature students too, the complete learning package requires a level and quality of interaction and connectedness that can only be achieved on the Web and be effective where the body of learners is large and their approach is open and shared so that knowledge acquisition comes through the challenges and rewards of such intercourse. Connections won’t occur however unless they are nurtured. By way of example, wishing to support and promote the combat memoirs of my late grandfather John Arthur Wilson MM (Vernon, 2012) a number of organisations will be approached up and down the UK in relation to his experiences in the Durham Light Infantry, Machine Gun Corps and Royal Air Force. The Web will both help identify, forge and maintain and develop first and subsequent connections in what would hopefully be, to be effective, a two way, shared, open and reciprocal relationship. The beauty of having content  already online is that others can quickly view it and images, text and sound files, even video, adjusted to suit different audiences, or uses - and used freely where appropriate copyright permissions are given.

JFVernon 2010 from statistics from Jakob Nielsen (1999)

Fig 7 . Creators, commentators and readers - how use of the Web stacks up. Vernon (2010) after Nielsen (1999)

This degree of connectedness does not come naturally. Just as there can be no expectation that people will use a QR code because it is there – they won’t. With an innovative approach such as this promotion is crucial. Significant time, thought and effort need to be put into letting people know what is taking place and supporting their participation.

Only a fraction of a population are naturally inclined to generate content.

Jakob Nielsen (1999) would suggest that as few as 1% create content (Fig. 6). If content is therefore to be created by participants then very large numbers need to be made aware of the initiative. Online, openness helps when it is massive. Participation is improved where it is supported and moderated. Creators, commentators and readers each have a role to play.

The balance needs to be found between the qualities of a tool that is fast and cheap and where out of control means that something isn’t used in a way to benefit a formal learning requirement. On the one hand those who want to generate content can be encouraged to do so, while in a formal setting the intention would that everyone generates content of some form in order to receive feedback and assessment.

 

 

J F Vernon (2011) 

Fig 8. The Newcastle War Memorial by Sir William Goscombe John RA

The potential weakness of using QR codes are the requirement for participants to have a suitable device, say a smartphone or tablet and the possible communication fees when connecting away from a free wi-fi source – which is likely to be the case at a war memorial (Gradel & Edson, 2012). Reading from and using a smartphone or tablet may also present accessibility issues, from the need for dexterity and reading content that isn’t offered in alternative forms, such as text sizes and background or audio alternatives.

There are many examples where local councils feel a war memorial or building is so important that they have invested in information placards on site (Fig. 7). As commemoration of those who served and died in the First World War is of local and national interest funding is potentially available to help support initiatives such as these through the Heritage Lottery Fund, while organisations such as the Western Front Association have funding for branch activities too.

If permission is required for personalisation of a British Legion poppy using a QR code, then alternatives may be required, from working with other suitable groups such as the Imperial War Museum or Western Front Association to putting the QR code on a badge instead. Where used in the field it is likely that a teacher would put out sets of QR coded markers in advance and collect them afterwards. Where a photograph in a town featuring before and after views permission may also be required if any kind of QR coded plaque or poster is to be put up. Other inventive ways to use a QR code would be to attach them to an obstacle course like trench experience where each code triggers elements of a task, sound effects or narrative in keeping with the setting.  By way of example, at the ‘In Flanders Museum’ in Ypres a number of exhibits require the visitor to duck, crawl or crane their neck before supporting audio or lighting is triggered by a Near Field code in a bracelet.

  J F Vernon (1989-2014)

Fig. 9. The memoir of a Machine Gunner and RFC Fighter Pilot. ‘That’s Nothing Compared to Passchendaele’

In his 2011 book ‘The Digital Scholar’ Martin Weller shares the ideas of Robert Capps (2009) who coined the term ‘the good enough revolution’ – in relation to creating and sharing content in an open culture. This precludes being prescriptive or from expecting perfection. Whilst output on the First World War from the BBC, the Imperial War Museum or the Open University should understandably attain a certain professional standard, the kind of creation required of those research names on war memorials should take inspiration from that is more than just ‘good enough, from ‘pinning’ names from a war memorial to a home address, to ‘pinning’ submitted World War One photographs to Google maps over former battlefields, as well as numerous inventive YouTube videos and memoirs presented as blogs.

REFERENCE

Awano, Y (2007). Brief pictorial description of new mobile technologies used in cultural institutions in Japan. The Journal of Museum Education, 32(1), 17-25 Barrett, T (2012). 50 Interesting ways to use QR codes to support learning. (Last accessed 6th Feb 2014  https://docs.google.com/present/edit?id=0AclS3lrlFkCIZGhuMnZjdjVfNzY1aHNkdzV4Y3I&hl=en_GB&authkey=COX05IsF

Denso (2010a). QR Code Standardization. (Retrieved 6th Feb 2014, from http://www.denso-wave.com/qrcode/qrstandard-e.html ) Edudemic. Traditional Learning Theories. (Accessed 19th April 2013) http://edudemic.com/2012/12/a-simple-guide-to-4-complex-learning-theories/

Gradel, K., & Edson, A. J. (2012). Higher ed QR code resource guide.

Hicks, A., & Sinkinson, C. (2011). Situated questions and answers: Responding to library users with QR codes. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 51(1), 60–69.

Horizon Report 2009 (2009) Educause (Accessed 14th Feb 2014 http://www.educause.edu/library/resources/2009-horizon-report )

Information Standards Committee (2008) Section 3: QR code, Synthesis Journal. (From http://www.itsc.org.sg/pdf/synthesis08/Three_QR_Code.pdf )

Kerry-Bedel, A (2011) Smartphone technology – the future of heritage interpretation: Its in conservation (Accessed 14th February 2014 http://www.kbstconsulting.co.uk/QR/images/ITIC.pdf )

Lepi, K (2012) A Simple Guide To 4 Complex Learning Theories. Edudemic eMagazine 24th December 2012. (Accessed 14th February 2014. http://www.edudemic.com/a-simple-guide-to-4-complex-learning-theories/ )

New York Times. The Best Tour Guide May Be in Your Purse. Article by Keith Schneider. 18 March 2010. Copyright © 2010, The New York Times Company http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/18/arts/artsspecial/18SMART.html

Nielsen, J (1999) Web Usability Robinson, K. (2010). Mobile phones and libraries: Experimenting with the technology. ALISS Quarterly, 5(3), 21–22 Ryerson University Library & Archives (2012). QR codes. Retrieved 6th Feb 2014, from http://www.ryerson.ca/library/qr/. So, S. (2008). A Study on the Acceptance of Mobile Phones for Teaching and Learning with a group of Pre-service teachers in Hong Kong. Journal of Educational Technology Development and Exchange, 1(1), 81-92. South Downs (2012)  Use of QR Codes (Accessed 14 Feb 2014 http://southdownsforum.ning.com/forum/topics/signposting-and-qr-codes ) Tucker, A. (2011). What are those checkerboard things? How QR codes can enrich student projects. Tech Directions, 71(4), 14-16.

Vernon J.F. (2012) (Blog Post)  (Accessed 14th February 2014 http://machineguncorps.com/jack-wilson-mm/ )

Vernon, J.F. (2013) (Blog Post) Mobile learning at the Museum of London: QR codes and NFCs (Accessed 14th February 2014) http://mymindbursts.com/2013/11/10/molqr1/

Weller, M (2011) The Digital Scholar: How Technology is Transforming Scholarly Practice. 5% Loc 239 of 4873  

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Leveraging mobile technologies and Web 2.0 tools to engage those with an interest in the centenary of the First World War in the stories of the people of the er

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 10:36

A conference presentation for H818: The Networked Practitioner

In relation to the First World War, during its centenary commemoration, there are many places, such as war memorials, cemeteries, historic houses and battlefields that are bereft of quality, supporting information. With consideration for the needs and interests of visitors to such sites rich, multimedia information, such as audio guides and photographs, links to databases and to others with a similar interest can be provided through the use of Quick Response (QR) codes. Of interest here is to personalise commemorisation through the use of a self-generated QR code and content with the code put onto a British Legion Poppy.

This opens up the possibility of providing information at war memorials, large and small, even down to the single name, as well as at sites, buildings and on battlefields, for example informing walkers and cyclists that the old airfield was once a training area for the Royal Flying Corps showing them photographs of what it looked like or that that council building that was a convalescence home or that part of the Downs that had trenches dug in it for training or the concrete pill-box on the former Western Front where it is known an officer and two of his men died.

QR codes, orginally the creation of a supplier to Toyota, have grown in popular use in Japan and China in the 1990s, then the US, Canada and Germany. They are now used at point of sale for marketing purposes, and increasingly in libraries and museums were research is indicating how they can best be used. Implementation issues relate to the percentage of the population that do not have smart devices, the possible cost of 2G and 3G away from free Wi-Fi and adequate support for the use of QR codes which are not yet ubiquitous in the UK.

The purpose of this paper is to pull together current experiences of the use of QR codes in order to consider ways they could add to the our collective understanding of the events of the First World War. QR codes offer multiple potentials, not simply providing rich mobile multimedia content, but letting people create their own content and QR codes, to share, form hubs of like-minds and respond in their own way whether by contributing to the historical debate, offering their own family stories or being inspired or angered by the events as described and wanting to express their views in prose, poetry, painting or performance.

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Those TMA Blues

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Why is it that clarity only comes from comments on TMA1 as I reach the last couple of days in which to deliver TMA2? I know people hate them, but I do rather like the cruel deadline of a written examination - it is the performance after the preparation, the 'first night'. 

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Amanda Palmer: Share, share alike and ask

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Feb 2014, 16:44

Fig. 1. Amanda Palmer TED Talk

A fellow student on H818 The networked Practitioner found this 13 minute TED talk from Amanda Palmer who secured $1.2m in crowdsouring to record an album. I reflect on the significance of her life story and perspective on asking for, trusting and giving. It isn't a collaborative endeavour where the crowd take part, but rather closer to a performer seeking recompense from an audience that permits them to do more of the same.

I doubt 'crowd funding' will kill of the X Factor.

Personaly I get what she is saying and will press on with a crowd sourcing project - a few people saying they'd put in $200 encourages me. I need to raise about $20,000 to digitise video 'archive' I shot as an undergraduate in the 1980s. That's just the start of it. Self-funding short-films that cost £10,000 to make for £500 TV rights doesn't work for anyone. In 1999 when I started to blog 'we' paired up with a designer who did the platform and coding for free ... but we'd ask for donations.

These generally came from the same people who were trying to make a go of this new medium so I guess the funds were circulating in a closed community - or, what I think is the case, for those who create there are 96% others who partake, or consume.

Like the trobadors.

What Amanda Palmer expresses IS common to much that is created on the web, certainly, for its earliest days of 'share and share alike' that I had felt had long gone. This sense of connection with people though comes from pleasing that fraction of a huge population.

Fig.2. Amanda Palmer in her days as the 8ft Bride living statue

Personally I have never given money to a living statue, though I have never shouted abuse at them either. I have however busked in my teens, even getting into bars and restaurants to do a set and by default found people wanted to pay me when I sat in parks drawing and would do portraits - I couldn't part with the drawings as I needed them for my A'Level portfolio. But I personally liked the sensation and drew satisfaction for doing something that others enjoyed that they couldn't do themselves - perhaps this explains my love for performance and theatre, another activity I long ago quit in favour of efforts to get and keep 'that job' that people yelling from cars would talk about.

I wonder if this too explains the inclination of educators to 'do it for free', at least from the security of tenure with a college, school or university?

My father in law is an 85 year old academic who has 'given it away' all his life, going way, way beyond allotted 'hours' as a tutor ... the consequence is that he does have hundreds turn out to 'gigs' and 'fund raisers' for his net project. So, interestingly, I think there is a lesson here that has a good deal to do with openness in education.

This isn't the same as collaboration though.

An audience gives their time, their presence, or food, or a sofa to sleep on - even money when it is asked for, and even inspite of not asking for it in the case of the $10 from the bloke who burned Amanda's CD that he had been given as a gift.

Openness, I wonder, from characters such as Amanda, is a psychological need for some and a requirement in society. We are still, as human beings, pre-urban, pre-monetised, where in a self-supporting community a community of people could meet all their needs - including the need to be entertained and taken out of our heads. Perhaps an anthropologist would describe Amanda Palmer as a natural 'witch doctor'. Amanda wonders if 'the internet is taking us back, about a few people loving us enough' - to a sense of shared society and community.

I like the comparison between sleeping on someone's couch and crowd surfing (though it wasn't her on the couch in this story). THAT is more usual, and I've done this too, hitching through France in my teens (again), on more than one occasion we were taken home, given a meal and either allowed to put our tent up in a garden or given the couch to sleep on.

So how does this explain or justify 'crowd sourcing'?

It comes down to trust. Which also means having a thick skin or ignoring some of the vitriol written in the comments to this TED lecture - nothing like controversy to get the fingers typing.

'The perfect tools won't help us (I'm paraphrasing) if we can't face each other and give and receive fearlessly and ask without shame'. Amanda Palmer, TED Talk 12:11

But will this mean that like Cacofinix some musicians will play even when they don't have a commercial future?

The number of buskers who deserve my £1 are rare ... sometimes I give them £1 because I admire their nerve. Sometimes they too should keep quiet - they might get more as a living statue. I'll have to go and listen to Amanda Palmer's music now. This isn't sustainable for the film industry ... how can a movie costing $200m make its money back on handouts? Or is crowdsourcing and handouts an alternative means of funding?

I'll know when I've tried it.

If educators are funded by the state, from taxation, are they living on hand outs? Is the BBC a product of this culture of hand outs too? If during a MOOC participants are asked to pay what they can afford will this permit those who can't pay to continue thanks to the largesse of those who can and want to?

I'm off to make a donation to a friend who has spent his life writing - and to a lesser or greater degree getting published. How else can we enjoy commentators?

Couchsurfing IS my father in law staying with his former pupils whenever he travels to north America or continental Europe - they want to put him up, and on a lecturer's pension he couldn't travel otherwise. He didn't need the Internet to develop this crowd either - though it makes it easier to be in touch these days.

In education the Amanda Palmer as lecturer would put on a free gig and then take the hat around - those who could pay might pay over the odds, those who couldn't pay would have the benefit of her talk, while those who could pay but don't make up that fraction of society who habitually take and give nothing back anyway.

To what degree have religions relied on the largesse of followers? A hat being passed around at a gig? The hat going round after a performance by a juggler in Covent Garden ... or the collection box going round after a church service?

Thought provoking in its controversy.

I've not seen so many NEGATIVE comments coming out of a TED lecture before either.

Some Music (think 'Hazel O'Connor, Breaking Glass 1980):

In My Mind

The Oasis Music Video 

The Killing Type

Dear Daily Mail

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H818

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Feb 2014, 16:06

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H818 - The Networked Practitioner - New for Autumn 2013

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014, 07:50

Fig. 1. The Digital Scholar

Martin Weller's Digital Scholar becomes the basis for H818 - The Networked Practitioner

This new e-learning module from the Open University uses Martin Weller’s book The Digital Scholar is part of a wide range of open access material used for the module and Martin is one of the authors of the module content.

Chapter 1 - Read it here on the Bloomsbury website

Over the last couple of years I have said how much I would like to 'return' to the traditional approach to graduate and postgraduate learning - you read a book from cover to cover and share your thinking on this with fellow students and your tutor - perhaps also a subject related student society.

Why know it if it works?

Fig. 2. The backbone of H810 Accessible Online Learning is Jane Seale's 2006 Book.

Where the author has a voice and authority, writes well and in a narrative form, it makes for an easier learning journey - having read the Digital Scholar participants will find this is the case.

As in the creation of a TV series or movie a successful publication has been tested and shows that there is an audience.

The research and aggregation has been done - though I wonder if online exploiting a curated resource would be a better model? That e-learning lends itself to drawing upon multiple nuggets rather than a single gold bar.

There are a couple of caveats related to this tactic:

  1. Keeping the content refreshed and up to date. Too often I find myself reading about redundant technologies - the solution is to Google the cited author and see if they have written something more current - often, not surprisingly from an academic, you find they have elaborated or drilled into a topic they have made their own in the last 18 months.
  2. Lack of variety. Variety is required in learning not simply to avoid the predictable - read this, comment on this, write an assignment based on this ... but this single voice may not be to everyone's liking. Can you get onto their wave length? If not, who and where are the alternative voices?

 

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