I attended mLearn last week to present a long paper on some of the outcomes of the Australian Standards for Mobile Learning, but I also had a range of other m-learning issues I was keen on sharing and discussing.
One of these topics was the use of 2D barcodes (or ‘mobile codes‘ as they are sometimes referred to) – specifically, Quick Response or QR Codes. Since I initially proposed the use of QR Codes as a way to link physical objects or locations with electronic and online learning materials, several excellent educators and educational developers have picked up on the potential of this technology – which is free to use and develop, and well-supported by free software, to both create QR Codes and decode them using ordinary camera phones.
I had the opportunity to mention QR Codes in my mLearn presentation, and provided a bit more information during question time; but I also did many demonstrations at other times during the conference, using QR Codes I screen printed onto all of my shirts for the conference, or QR Code stamps I had made to print codes directly onto my business cards. The QR Codes I used provided a link to a mobile-enabled Winksite page with all of my contact details for the conference.
Screen printing QR Codes successfully onto both light and dark t-shirts required both positive and negative versions of the screen print image (to print in either white or black ink). Printing both white and black ink onto the red shirt was a matter of combining both the positive and negative screen prints – the image itself provided its own very accurate registration marks, thanks to the three corner “squares” on each QR code, which made overprinting easy and very precise indeed. [Disclaimer: while I'm familiar with creating complex screen prints, this probably isn't everyone's cup of tea. However, I can create custom QR Code t-shirts for other educators for about A$20 (or even less for multiple items); the other alternative is to send your design to CafePress who will professionally print any design you like onto a t-shirt (or other item) for you].
I also ordered two stamps from Canberra Rubber Stamps and Signs, and they obligingly made self-inking and standard versions of my QR Code on a 28mm blank, within 3 working hours of me placing my order. I was very impressed (and grateful!). The standard stamp cost under A$20; the self-inking version was a little more expensive, but under A$45.
Using these stamps I was able to print QR Codes on all my business cards and
do over 20 live demonstrations of the creating and decoding QR Codes to other conference attendees. I had a green stamp pad to show how different colours could be used to create QR Codes (a bit more interesting than black-and-white), and I also brought self-laminating plastic pouches to demonstrate how to waterproof the cards.
Anyway, all this was a lot of fun, and apart from allowing me to share one of my particular interests in mobile learning, it was another conduit enabling me to meet many other terrific conference attendees. No doubt I’ll do something similar for future conference attendances!
If you’re attending an m-learning conference in the future, consider having a QR Code for your own contact information added to your business card; getting a QR Code stamp made; adding a QR Code for your contact details or website to your presentation; or even having it printed on a t-shirt so other attendees can “snap” your details in seconds!