Education Advances into the Mobile Age: A Guest Blog
The following is a guest post from Justin Herbert, an education professional. As such he is interested in how technology is affecting education. His post discusses using "Mobile Response Codes," a term we've begun using internally to group the rapidly expanding print to web options; QRcodes, Microsoft Tags and [most importantly] digital watermarks to name just a few.
Technological advances in cellular capabilities, web applications, and interactive content storage have led to the creation of digital watermarks and quick response (QR) codes. QR codes are two-dimensional bar codes that users can scan with a webcam or smartphone app, such as QR Droid or Red Laser, that lead directly to interactive content. Digital watermarks work in a similar fashion, but offer a more aesthetically pleasing layout. Invisible to the naked eye, but perceptible by your smart phone, digital watermarks provide a sleeker, visually pleasing look and can be used by simply pointing your smart phone at the watermarked content of interest and using the associated app.
Digital watermarking tools, like Digimarc Discover, and QR codes have become so popular that they have found their way into our classrooms. Schools have begun using these tools to connect printed letters and publications web-based content so that readers can then be taken directly to the school website. While QR codes are the predominant tool in educational use, publications such as House Beautiful and Volkswagen magazine have committed to using digital watermarks. Schools and educators could soon follow suit, and former Digimarc Discover vice-president Jeri Owen views digital watermarks as the next-generation of QR codes, reminding us that using "QR codes will train consumers on what they can do with their phones and help build demand and preference for us longer-term." Further, educators could use these interactive tools to allow students to revisit notes and discussions recorded on SmartBoards or similar interactive whiteboards. In fact, it is possible that QR codes and digital watermarks could become standard in our country's colleges and universities in a number of ways, including:
Interactive Media Content in Online Education
Online education is a popular trend in the US right now because it allows students and professionals to advance their education from home and offers more flexibility. Digital watermarks and QR codes can take users to content review videos or online homework assignments that allow students to review and re-learn content at their pace. Further, Digimarc Discover software allows users to embed multiple digital watermarks in print; a feature that would allow educators to put multiple content review links into one print publication. While QR codes can offer similar services, the bulky and spacious formatting of the 2-D codes limits the amount of codes that can be used in the same format.
Study Guide and Practice Test Taking
Educators could use these tools to create interactive study guides and practice tests that utilize the digital watermarks to mask the answers until the student is ready to review. Once the student has completed their study guides or practice tests, they could use an app to scan the digital watermark and find the correct answers on a web page. Using Digimarc Discover's technology, educators could even create tests and quizzes that can be taken from anywhere, using a smart phone to read the digital watermarks behind each possible answer, instructing the student to scan and access the label for the correct answer, and tracking the number of correct or incorrect scans.
QR codes allow instructors, students, and/or researchers to use multiple codes to create anonymous surveys. Survey-takers simply have to scan the bar code corresponding to their choice, and data collectors can then instantly see the number of scans the codes have received. Digital watermark technology could offer similar functions, and could do so without forcing educators to change their current test formats. Using digital watermarks would allow educators to add imperceptible digital watermarks to the test they have already developed, as opposed to adding larger, bulkier QR codes that take up more space. Further, digital watermark technology could allow instant tracking of the number of times it has been accessed, so researchers and could use them to collect frequency and visitation data.
Related Content Material
Educators could use digital watermarks in their worksheets and handouts as well, allowing students to access websites and interactive web content that reviews related content. For example, a history professor lecturing on World War II might use a digital watermark hidden behind text to links that review the Holocaust or the story of Anne Frank. The ability to add multiple digital watermarks to prints makes linking an abundance of related content simple and allows educators to condense the materials into one source. By doing this, educators may even be able to reduce, or eliminate, the need for expensive textbooks and related publications.
QR codes are finding a niche in the field of education, both as a tool for educators and as a resource for students. Colleges such as Penn State University, The University of Florida, Baylor University and more are using QR codes more frequently in application brochures and recruiting pamphlets that allow students to take virtual campus tours, watch introductory content, and meet professors and staff members through web videos. Digital watermarks, however, may soon replace QR codes by offering similar services in a sleeker, more attractive format. Further, because multiple watermarks can be added in the same publication, these links could be provided on the same document, which limits expenses and provides a condensed and specific publication for prospective students. Whatever the use, companies like Digimarc are seeking to provide more ways to use these tools effectively inside the classroom and out!
Justin Herbert is an education professional that has worked and lectured at the middle school, high school, and college levels. He has an MA in Education Leadership from the University of Cincinnati and writes to inform others of current trends, primarily in the fields of education, health and fitness, technology, and public service. Herbert believes that education is the key to our nation's future, and hopes that advances in technology and pedagogy will lead to the development of better teachers and the creation of more successful school systems.