Can the Incorporation of Quick Response Codes and Smartphones Improve Field-based Science Education?

David Chapple, Bruce Weir, Ricardo San Martin

Abstract


Innovative approaches to field-based biology classes are needed to overcome logistic and financial constraints to running them. Quick Response (QR) technology, which links users to online content by scanning barcodes with their smartphones, provides an inexpensive, customisable way to support field-based learning. This paper reports on the trial of mobile learning, using hand-held devices and online material, in an undergraduate biology class. Students conducted a wildlife survey with reference to an online identification guide, accessed by scanning QR codes on site. Students expressed mixed opinions about the use of QR technology in field-based classes. Technical problems with scanning QR codes, weak wifi coverage and apprehension towards new technologies appeared to influence their attitudes towards mobile learning. However, they felt that they benefited from online resources and endorsed QR codes for learning. To improve student engagement with QR technology, staff should provide students with adequate training, test QR scanning software before use, and emphasise cellular coverage.

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