Scanned QR codes link students to learning

qr code readerCell phone use is typically forbidden at Beatrice Middle School.

Beginning at the morning bell, students are to have stowed the mobile devices away in their locker for safekeeping and to eliminate distractions in the classroom.

Eighth-grade students, however, are bending the rules for educational purposes.

Teachers Mike Policky and Ben Essam, along with media specialist Karen Dittbrenner, have created a series of QR Codes or quick response codes – for students to scan and take lessons with them on the go.

What is a QR Code? QR codes are barcodes used in manufacturing, commercial tracking or on ticket stubs that can be scanned using a free program on a phone or tablet computer linking students to a secure website.

So, while students have been studying the United States’ westward expansion, they have also been exploring new avenues of learning with technology.

“They do a lot of research for this chapter, so this is a different way to research that they are more familiar with,” Essam said.

The process works simple, Dittbrenner explained.

Students download a free QR Code reader app to their smart phones, tablet computer, or even handheld gaming device. The iPhone app or Android App finds the code, downloads it and automatically sends the device to a link – in this instance, a YouTube video about the California Gold Rush.

The eighth-graders have been exploring different facets of the lesson between the two teams, Policky said, adding another dimension to the lessons.

Policky said using the codes fit right in with the chapter’s curriculum.

“We assign different topics and have the kids research and report and they put together a 30-minute news program,” Policky said.

“They just sit down, watch it and fill out the worksheet together,” Essam said. “They are so much more used to watching things on their cell phones that they can snap the photo and take it with them on the bus.”

“They love having that technology in their hands,” he added.

Students were so absorbed into the lessons that they may have forgotten about the most common function teenagers use their phones for: texting.

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