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QR codes and NFC

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Feb 2014, 17:12

Fig.1. YouTube video for the Museum of London's NFC initiative in 2011

Having picked through links that came to a dead end in a fascinating paper on the variety of technologies and tactics being used by museums in relation to mobile learning I started to see and read more and more about the use of QR codes (those matrix two-dimensional barcodes you use with a smartphone) and NFC 'Near Field Communication' which is becoming an industry in its own right.

Having been kept awake at night about a need for 'constructing knowledge' rather than being fed it I knew that visitors, students especially, need to engage with their surroundings by somehow seeking and constructing their own views.

Without QR and NFC the simplest expression of this is taking notes, and or photographs of exhibits - not just selfies with a mummy or your mates. Possibly doing bits of video. And from these images cutting/editing and pasting a few entries in a blog, Prezi or SlideShare. QR and NFC feed the visitor controlled and curated bite-size nugets, so more than just a snap shot, you can have audio and video files, as well as more images and text.

Fig.2. South Downs Way QR Code.

Successful trials mean that these have spread. Funny I've not noticed them living in Lewes and walking the dog most days on the South Downs. I'll take a look. NFCs have been used extensively, for 90 exhibits, at the Museum of London - so a visit is required. Though I won't be ditching my iPhone. Apple does not support NFC believing that the technology is still in its infancy ... like Flash, like Betamax and VHS, and all that stuff, a battle will be fought over the NFC benchmark.

So 60% penetration of smartphones in the population ... most of all of which can use a QR code, but less using a early version of NFCs. My experience?

Fig.3. QR Codes at the Deisgn Museum

Last year a visit to the Design Museum I found the 'Visualizing the mind' exhibition littered with QR codes.

They didn't work. Just as well they had ample computers. How often do organisations jump on the IT bandwagon only for a couple of wheels to fall off further down the road?

Fig.4. Evie

Meanwhile I'm off to walk the dog .. then using a trip to see Gravity at the Odeon Leicester Square with my kids to include an educational tour to the Museum of London (always handy to have a teenager around when using mobile technology).


'REPORTING RESEARCH' 2013, Interpretation Journal, 18, 1, pp. 4-7, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 November 2013.


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Rebecca Berry

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This was a really interesting read, thanks!  Especially the bit about the need to construct knowledge rather than being fed it - I hadn't thought about that before and I may well borrow the concept for my next TMA! smile

Design Museum

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The most valuable knowledge I got my head around courtesy of the OU finally came AFTER I had completed the MA ODE and was doing the module on research based practices in e-learning. During the course of this I once and for all got my head around Learning Theories and the correlation not only between identifying the theory behind a piece of learning in order to conduct appropriate research - but necessarily knowing what theories are most appropriate for different learning challenges. Behaviourist theory is a valid approach, feeding or telling students stuff, for example, junior doctors knowing the different between male and female, top and bottom ... (you know what I mean!) ... and when and where the goal is to pass an exam, until these exams are replaced by other kinds of assessment then students need to get stuff into their heads in a way that they can then use it during these formal assessments. Constructing knowledge is what we do despite ourselves, in particular as children - we play, experiment, test boundaries, and build our knowledge accordingly. This can be formalised in any kind of apprenticeship. It is one form of learning through doing, whether as a playful activity, or because the person is motivated for other reasons ... stick, carrot, to be the best, to impress friends or girlfriend, to please parents, a teacher etc: There are four or five key learning theories ... I stretched this to 12 or 13 to include such gems as 'don't want to learn' ... the view that there really are people, or circumstances where not learning ought to be the goal.