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MON: Leveraging mobile technologies and Web 2.0 tools to engage those with an interest in the centenary of the First World War cont.....(Jonathon Vernon)
Cloud created by:
Dr Simon Ball
4 February 2014
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.
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, originally 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.
All we see are names on memorials to those who died in the First World War.
But we’d like to see something like this …
To attach faces to the names and add their stories too, to know where they lived and went to school and who their families were.
So we pick a name, go online, research the records, find where he lived and what he did, learn when he joined up, follow his Division and find where he died.
We uncover a photograph that appeared in a local paper and learn that his older brother served too and survived. We create a web page: a picture and a short biography.
And then we generate a Quick Response code that we print off and stick to our Poppy.
And when asked what it’s all about on Remembrance Sunday I say that I’m remembering Lieutenant Gerald Woods who is named on the war memorial on the hill. I say that he was in the Machine Gun Corps and before that he worked in the Brewery down the road.
And over time, the word spreads, and as others take part we are eventually able to find pictures and stories for almost all the 365 names on our war memorial.
In some cases grandchildren and great grandchildren join in, adding family photographs to the website.
And our research adds the survivors too, even unearthing an audio recording held in the Imperial War Museum of one of ‘our’ veterans.
There are 365 names on our War Memorial to those who died in the First World War - over 3,000 served. Over 900,000 died from Britain and the Commonwealth, their names on the 54,000 war mermorials in Great Britain and others in Commonwealth countries. Over 3 million served.
Our world is that way it is because of the events of 100 years ago. Let's not forget them.
22:09 on 11 February 2014
23:27 on 12 February 2014
I hand draw/pain 'design' my own poppy - the flower isn't a copyright image, only the way it is interpreted by the British Legion.
Someone sticking a QR code for non-commercial purposes to a poppy they have purchsed is proably perfectly legitimate - unless it is considered defacement?
I am look at alternative 'badges' that can be warn with a QR code on them, such as working with the Western Front Association or putting the QR code on a faked up medal like image - the basic idea is that people wear the code and identify themselves with the content you are taken to.
If the British Legion's response is 'take it down' or to add such and such a copyright notice I will do so. There is no commercial use here so I believe there are legitimate 'eduational' uses.
I can draw and take a photograph. I ought to doodle up every image myself to overcome any and every copyright issue. This is what would be done in a commercial, publishing context, though for a 'work in progress' I believe that such bespoke work is the very last thing you do as you can otherwise find you do a great deal of work on images that have to be cut at a later stage..
07:42 on 14 February 2014
This is the text that is closest to the presentation given on Monday 17th February
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.
Open Education in an Open Landscape
Inclusion: Innovation: Implementation
An OULive presentation by Jonathan Vernon 17th February 2014 @20:45
Who are them men and women whose lives are remembered on British War Memorials?
© J F Vernon (2014)
Fig. 1 Lewes War Memorial
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 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 online.
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. There are some 900,000 names. 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.
“Fast, cheap and out of control”
Brian Lamb (2010) described those technologies that ‘lend themselves to … the networked and open approach’ (Weller, 2012 KL 244) as ‘fast, cheap and out of control’. It was with this in mind, taking an interest in the centenary of the First World, that I started to think about using Quick Response codes as a personalized 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.
© J F Vernon (2014)
Fig. 2 How a Quick Response code might be used on a Royal British Legion Poppy in order to personalise your commemoration.
Quick Response (QR) codes are fast – they are easy to use, they are free; however to be effective in learning there has to be a ‘ modicum of control’ - the initiative has to come from somewhere. Worn in this way, I’d like to think that you can share directly with others the person whose name you have researched and 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. This is designed as a ‘blended experience’, that uses ‘face-to-face’, ‘community’ and ‘classroom’ experiences, trips to monuments … and qualities of being and going online.
Fig.3 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 2d barcode in the 1990s. (Denso, 2014) Made free of patent, and using free software anyone can now generate their own unique QR code; you can even print them out on standardized sticky label stationery. 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. 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 content. I liken QR codes to using your phone as a remote control to click to a TV channel. You point a smartphone, or tablet at the QR code to read it and go instantly, pretty much, to a web page. Unlike a TV remote though, you can just as easily create and share your own content too.
The use of QR codes in education in the last decade has been limited
Refereed papers are few, but between these and other published reports, suggestions can be made regarding their strengths and weaknesses. If QR codes are to be used successfully then champions need to be identified to take up the cause. 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, not just explaining how to make use of QR codes, but also working them in, where appropriate to current learning schedules where QR codes can contribute to meeting clear learning objectives.
The 2009 Horizon report identified six technologies that were expected to be significant in the following few years, of these, five relate to this proposed innovative approach to learning by wearing a personalised QR code:
the personal web and
Use of QR codes in learning 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 isn’t enough to attract or necessitate their use, not everyone has a smartphone or tablet, and the technology is often not robust. While outdoors QR codes added to signs in the South Downs National Park, (Kerry-Bedel 2011) for example, barely received a view a day during a three month trial and in some instances there was no signal anyway.
Where QR codes have been successful is in targeted learning experiences in schools (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 galvanizing people to take part in a joint exercise – easier with a class in school or college, less easy with the general public.
Examples where QR codes work include:
where participants are ‘equipped’,
where they can take an active role, such as with ‘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 4 . 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 Fig. 3, an infographic produced by Edudemic (Edudemic 2012) traditional and digital theories are shown. All are relevant, each has its place, with the digital environment offering new approaches to learning.
Learning ‘in the digital age’ enables and benefits from a level and quality of interaction and connectedness that is easier to achieve on the Web. It is particularly effective where the body of learners is large, where ‘birds of a feather, flock together’ (Li & Chignells, 2010) at a hub (Efimova, 2009) and their behaviour is open and shared so that knowledge acquisition comes through the challenges and rewards of sustained interaction. (ibid)
Only a fraction of an online population are naturally inclined to generate content. Nielsen (1999) suggested that only 1% create content, 9% might comment, while the remainder are readers or viewers. Nielsen cites the Amazon book reviewer who wrote 1,275 reviews in one year. I liken these people to what advertisers call ‘champions.’ The key influencers of a cohort or group, early adopters, who innovate first and do so with conviction and passion. (Vernon, 2012).
Fig 5. Creators, commentators and readers – how use of the Web stacks up. Vernon (2010) after Nielsen (1999)
So if we are to rely on participants to generate content the total numbers taking an interest as viewers and commentators needs to be large. Building on Nielsen, and authors who have called groups who identify with each other through connected blogs as ‘like minds’ and my own experience in advertising I devised Fig. 4 to suggest degrees of participation.
How I would see it work with War Memorials is that as well as the key creators, there would also need to be, say branch members of an organisation such as the Western Front Association, they have over 3,000 members with branches across the UK, as a body of ‘like minds’ supported to work on the content, a figure increased further by engaging local schools or colleges – especially where the work is made part of formal assessment.
A balance has to be found, I believe, between the qualities of a tool that is ‘fast’ and ‘cheap’, and where, if it is ‘out of control’ – but you want to use it, to do so by creating parameters or ‘scaffolding’.
© J F Vernon (2013)
Fig. 6. Following ‘City Walks’ near Bloomsbury Square, London.
The potential weaknesses of using QR codes include the requirement for participants to have a suitable device, say a smartphone or tablet and communication fees. QR codes may not be so easy to stick to, then read from, a standard Poppy either. Reading from and using a smartphone or tablet presents accessibility issues. Though these devices are also being used in resourceful ways to support people with disabilities, and an audio guide, say a minute per name, for a war memorial, has its appeal.
There are plenty of examples too where local councils feel a war memorial is so important that there are information stands on site though it is unlikely and unrealistic to give physically the details of the thousands named.
Fig. 7. Google Search ‘Quick Response Codes Education Images’ (2014)
If permission is not given for personalization of the iconic Poppy then alternatives may be suggested, such as working with the Western Front Association or simply wearing a QR badge alongside your poppy.
In relation to creating and sharing content in an open culture, Robert Capps (2009) coined the expression ‘the good enough revolution’. This precludes being prescriptive or from expecting perfection. Whilst output on the First World War from the BBC and the Open University should understandably attain a certain professional standard, the kind of creation required of those researching names on war memorials themselves should take inspiration from this ‘good enough revolution’. Examples include ‘pinning’ names from a war memorial to a home address, photographs in a gallery on Flickr, ‘pinning’ World War One photographs to battlefield maps, numerous inventive YouTube videos and memoirs presented as blogs.
What has been shown, in museums and ‘out in the field’, is that simply ‘put out there’ QR codes are ignored. This makes the idea of ‘wearing your Poppy featuring your QR code’ appealing, as each person becomes an ambassador on the ground, in the street, on site, for that nugget of information, especially so if they are also responsible for - and proud of creating the content you then link to. The opportunity exists to engage people in bringing the stories of those named on our war memorials alive and sharing this knowledge in an invigorating, dynamic and Web 2.0 way. As a result, a deeper and more meaningful connection is made with the past and our relationship to it.
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
Capps, R (2009) ‘The GOod Enough Revolution: When Cheap and Simple is Just Fine’, Wired Magazine: 17.09. Avaialble at http://www.wired.com/gadgets/miscellaneous/magazine/17-09/ff_goodenough?currentPage=1 [accessed 18th February 2014]
Denso (2014). QR Code Standardization. Available at http://denso.com/ [accessed 18th February, 2014] also at http://www.denso.com.au/Products/Non-Automotive/Data-Capture/QR-Code
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04:48 on 18 February 2014