Educators are always looking for new and innovative ways of enhancing the learning experience. Tasked with an institutional directive to find more flexible delivery strategies to engage learners, Terri Downer looked at the technology at hand and asked a couple of related questions:
What could be done to highlight the skills required by nursing students, and what could be done to further improve their learning experience
Understanding that learning embedded in experience, or experiential learning was well recognised as a rewarding, student-centred approach, Terri initially decided to produce some short videos and place them on YouTube. ‘The pedagogical approach used in our project supported active learning which increases the students’ motivation and gives them control regarding what it is they would like to learn, how many times they need to view the information and where they would like to view the information. Being available for download on their mobile phone this could be literally anywhere’.
Terri explains further: ‘one innovative aspect of the videos was the use of a first person point of view for filming. That is, the students would view the activity ‘through the eyes’ of the practitioner, effectively ‘looking over their shoulder’. This point of view immerses and engages the learner; they feel they are present and even performing the procedure themselves’.
All this was well and good but how could the learning experience be enhanced further? What ‘something different’ could be added?
Terri found the answer in QR Codes.
QR or Quick Response Codes appear throughout our day to day life (see Figure 1). They can be found across a diverse set of media and locations including supermarket catalogues, magazines, art galleries, museums, and so on. Utilising a combination of web and mobile technologies, their overall purpose is to enhance engagement between participants and an item, be that a product for sale (in a catalogue for instance), or in a learning/educational sense (an exhibit in a museum for example).
It was the latter application that appealed to Terri: ‘The use of QR codes to enhance this learning seemed a natural progression. By placing the QR codes on the equipment in the nursing labs students were able to quickly access specific key skills that they had learnt without the additional need to search for these skills in their online learning materials…the QR codes provided on the nursing equipment for students assisted with instant access to information when the students chose to practice these skills in the labs. Otherwise the skills were still available for their use and revision through the YouTube links’.
Terri says that while filming them provided challenges at times, the videos have proved to be ‘very successful’ with students, with ‘over 1000 hits on YouTube for some of the skills’. She explains further that ‘since commencement of the project in 2010 an increasing number of students now have Smart Phones, iPads or other handheld devices’ which ‘makes the video clips far more accessible rather than [the students] just watching them on their home computer’.
With universities both here and in the United Kingdom embracing the use of Augmented Reality to enhance student learning through the use of QR Codes, and with more ongoing research in the area, it is clear that it is an approach that can only further develop.
The potential benefits for improved authenticity in clinical practice by supplementing what is taught at university are enormous. According to Terri, ‘by placing these codes on the equipment students are able to become independent learners… if they wish to practice the skill in their own time then the information is available and they can’.
‘It is well known that adults learn best through repetition and by watching best evidence based practice on these videos students are learning what to do correctly’.
Watch the video and join in the discussion by answering questions below, or put your own point of view forward.
What would you invite students to explore and discuss from this excerpt?
What sorts of technological issues do you think need to be considered in using the sort of learning approach Terri describes here?
Can you see a way to apply QR Codes to teaching and learning in other ways?
Chee, Y. (2001). Virtual Reality in Education: Rooting Learning in Experience, Invited talk. In Proceedings of the International Symposium on Virtual Education 2001, Busan, South Korea, pp. 43–54. Symposium Organizing Committee, Dongseo University.
Dearnley, C. A., Taylor, J., Hennessay, S., Parks, M., Coates, C. & Haigh, J. (2009). Using mobile technologies for assessment and learning in practice settings: Outcomes of five case studies. International Journal on E‐Learning, 8(2), 193-208.
McAllister, M., Levett-Jones, T., Downer, T., Harrison, P., Harvey, T., Reid-Searl,K., Lynch, K., Arthur, C., Layh, J., Calleja, P. (2013). Snapshots of simulation: Creative strategies used by Australian educators to enhance simulation learning experiences for nursing students. Journal of Nurse Education in Practice, 13(6), 567-72.
Taylor, J. D., Coates, C., Eastburn, S. & Ellis, I. (2006). Evaluating the impact of mobile technologies on the student learning experience in health practice placements. Retrieved from http://www.docstoc.com/docs/20125845/Evaluating-the-impact-of-mobile-technologies-on-the-student
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