Tuesday, July 12, 2016

QR CODES AND CONNECTIONS

This is a cool video that connects to so much of the way I think and see the world of writing, thinking, and connecting to the world. At one point, we were talking about the death of the novel at a master's course, and I argued that it isn't dying - it is changing in a way that you don't see. This connects to that kind of thinking. Thanks Joe Dillion for directing me to it. 




I like the idea of hyper linking and connecting that way and perhaps that is a different chapter. But in the spirit of the Pokeman Go crazy, there is something very tangible about a QR Code that can be printed on a syllabus, plastered on a t-shirt, or added to a billboard. They are not always ideal and they aren't the innovation to change the world, but when a student asks for assignment in the library and I don't have a copy, I let him scan the QR Code with his phone and he has it. Cool. 


I also think about connecting things. Imagine creating a book that needs instructions. Use a QR Code to connect readers to the instructions. In the case of Scott Momaday's On the Way to the Rainey Mountain, there is so much interconnection to that book and The Anicent Child that one is really a connective myth guide to the other. Not only can we link other texts, we can create small text messages, connections, and locations that make scanning this information important and relevant to your life. 

In a graphic novel course, I had students review graphic novels and then put their QR Codes on bookmarks and stuck the bookmarks in the books at the library. Students could scan the codes and read a peer-reviews of the graphic novel. 

It is interesting in the video above when it discusses that XML doesn't "define form. It defines the content." What does that mean to the novelist, the poet, the journalist? What does it mean? I will let you know when I find out more. 

P.S. QR Code Dice - how fun would that be?




Monday, July 11, 2016

CLMOOC Introduction - Getting My Hands Dirty

I am excited to be here and I will try to be diligent with posting and sharing. It is very nice to be surrounded by so many creative, smart, and thoughtful people in a learning community. With no budgets for professional development, I find these groups and connections very valuable to my vision of teaching and thinking. So thanks for having me. 

Poetry with a twist to introduce myself. 
Click here to view the poetry. 
Thanks for reading and exploring with me. 

Notes on QR Codes. I get that sometimes, QR Codes can not be effective to give connections to readers. If people are looking at them with their mobile devices, they can't use an app to scan what is on their phone. 

And yet, there is something I like about them. They are connections. They are symbols. They can be attached to a website, a document, or a message. They can do a lot. I've written poems this way a few times and feel like I am merely trying to explain my content. In my introduction, I tried to move away from the direct correlation between the words and the content on the other side of the QR Code. In some cases, like On The Way to Rainy Mountain is a full text. If you were to explore all these connections, it would take some time. That isn't the point. The point is - look at texts, images, and ideas that influenced me. Perhaps it will enhance the content. It is a novelty for the time being. Easier and less gimmicky is just hyper links embedded in the texts. I like that idea too, but a hyperlink can't be clicked on a t-shirt. But a QR Code can be scanned off a t-shirt taking you anywhere. 

I did some other projects with QR Codes if anyone is interested. Thanks for your interest. 

Syllabus and the QR Codes

Boxes and Connections 





Monday, June 27, 2016

Experimental Novels Part I

Introduction

Ask anyone and they will tell you that I am fascinated with process in writing and in order to understand the way we write, we have to understand that we can find specific reasons or connections to the choices we make. From names of characters to motivation to plot, process is important. The more I can identify some reason and function for my choices, the more I understand where I am going and why. That being said, one of my favorite topics to read, research, and share is my love of experimental novels. And in order to really understand why it matters at all, we have to define what they are and why they differ from other novels. And then, by looking at some novels that I consider experimental, it will also help find characteristics that are relevant in watching the evolution of experimental novels and ideas over the years. This series is part book review (of experimental novels), part idea building, and part process discussion. So, it won't always feel like the typical blog post. Sometimes, it will feel like a hyper-focused discussion about one book. Other times, it will talk more broadly. And sometimes, it will be connections and random thoughts. If you would like to share your ideas, feelings, or refer books - I would be happy. The comment sections will be open for that purpose. 

I will post a working list of experimental novels HERE, as a shared document. Feel free to add your favorites. 


Experimental isn't cutting edge. In fact, experimental novels of the past paved the way for how we consider the novel now. Even a common high school literary experience like Moby Dick by Hermann Melville might be considered experimental at the time. The experimental novel isn't new. In fact, all innovations in novel writing were and are considered experimental. Some are more pronounced, but they all have fed into the discussion that will be evolving here on this website, through the sources, and through other connections. In looking at some titles, it will be necessary to put the novel into historical context. What was happening in the world around the book? What was the author thinking? Why this experimental concept at this moment? And what did it mean? 


Perhaps any artist that attempts to find the edges of their craft will eventually consider some kind of experimentation or variation on what is considered the normal balance of art expectations. Often, experimentation with poetry, paints, and other modes of art feel like they absorb and use experimentation as a constant in their understanding of the craft. While the novel, stands in a slow pattern of change. Forever on the edge of extinction, the novel moves through slower changes. And I don't think the heralding of the long form's untimely death has ever done anything but strengthen its resolve to continue forward. In the last twenty years, I've posed the idea that the novel isn't dying or even in elder care - but changing into things that don't make sense to critics and literary crepe hangers. It is believing the television will never change, only to find everyone talking about a show on Netflix, that thing you didn't subscribe too because it seemed like a scam. Perhaps then, the novel will change with the technology, change with the vision a future forged in strife and chaos rather than bucolic suburban dreams that disappeared shortly after the second invasion of the Iraq. The novel might be on the move. It might be expanding. But until we use some of our tools and innovate their use on experimental texts, we will never really understand the edges of the novel world. That is my goal to discuss, view, and understand where the novel has been in terms of experimentation and evolution so that we can innovate and embrace the new vision of novel writing, style, and process involved in continuing his vast and stunning legacy in letters. 





Friday, May 13, 2016

#Rhizo16 / Oh Boy

So, we are going to jump into this with some kind of understanding of the idea of resilience. And while I am concerned about the topic and how little I might know and add to the conversation, I also know that I felt the same way last year. 

So, as I plunge into what is a prewriting for what is coming, I think there is something relevant to the idea of resilience and writing. Being in the field of writing -- this has been my area to jump into with rhizo thinking and learning, so I will start there. But first - my thoughts on juggling. 

I've presented a few times on risk taking to parents and shaping some goals and good habits around healthy risk taking with families before coming to college. One of the challenges that I throw out is juggling. Can you learn to juggle over the summer? During my first presentation, I showed them how I can juggle three objects and told them once they learn, it will never leave them. Like riding a bike, they might get rusty, but they will never forget what it feels like to juggle. Then I challenge them to come back and show me they can juggle in a few months. And I told them that I would like to take on juggle five. And since I threw down this challenge, I've not been very diligent. In fact, I haven't progressed very far with five at all. Why? Because I haven't been resilient. I haven't even really practiced enough to see success. I know I can probably do it. But I haven't put the time or the focus on this task to do it. Part of the struggle for me is not "if" I can do it, it is knowing that I have to put in more time that I really want to to make it happen. And what is worse, I feel like knowing the power of three is enough, but knowing the beauty and the hard work of five just doesn't seem worth it. Why? Part of me wants it very badly, and part of me doesn't because of the time. Is this a resilience issue? Have I grown too old to accept the work that I need to put in. Looking at the definition -- I feel like I do need to overcome something to make this happen - but I need to find out what that is. Maybe I just don't see the payoff. And that isn't me at all. And that is disturbing. 

Writers have this problem too. Write and write, reject, fail, not accepted in this, rejected from that. It becomes very hard to be resilient to failing when success is so rare. At least that is how it appears in my life, and the volume of writing that a writer creates to that of success is at significant odds with reality. What other worlds do people continue to fail and still hold a sense of resilience, a sense of methodology to their growth. Fail better, fail harder, fail more completely. If I can just juggle five, I will be okay. If I can write another novel, and sell it, I will be successful. How do I come back - I do we reform? How do you listen to someone explain the wrong in writing and come back to normal? It isn't about pity, it is about building. How do we reshape ourselves when we have lost, dropped the balls, and feel like we can't move forward? 

We don't stay the same, we evolve and change. The hope is that we grow. Perhaps resilience can also be measured in what we resolve to become when we fail again and again. Not because we are not trying, not because we are doing it the same way over and over, but because we must fail more before we can throw the third ball. We must read more rejection letters, we must hear how trite our writing is, we must take it all before we can carry the weight of our possibilities. For students, failure is merely a grade, a passing course, whatever goal they need to accomplish - but there is no rubric for life - for raising a family, for writing a novel, or juggling chainsaws. We know failure and resilience on our own specific terms. My rubric grows every day, new categories down the side, and more levels of completion across the top, emerging, struggling, attempting, developing - there are so many I can't see the edge of the paper anymore. 

Four weeks of Rhizo16 - five balls, juggling. Outcome: fail. Outlook: Superstar. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Between The Lines: Slaughterhouse Five Opening

Truth and fiction is a strange world. Writers are constantly invested in the vision of living many lives - some on paper while others are in real life. The complexity of writing fiction and understanding truth runs parallel to the idea that we can talk about truth and find its mirrored in fiction. In terms of writing, true stories and real accounts has a value to the general readership. We see labels splashed across book covers and movie posters that profess that they are based on a true story. And yet, the layers of fact to fiction can be complex and run deep into the story. 

Does it matter? Does fiction have to hold truth? Does a true story shift into fiction as soon as it is captured and told from different voices?  

It is important to write about these lines and ideas as they relate to both sides of the issue. It isn't black and white, truth and fiction, but a combination of millions of possibilities and connections that make truth stranger than fiction. This series continues to discuss this concept. Sometimes, these entries will be brief notes and connections, while other articles will a bit more elaborate. 

In Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, we are faced with the kind of strange world that I want to continue to explore - perhaps for the rest of my life. I want to be the truth expert in fiction... whatever that means. 

"All this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true. One guy I knew really was shot in Dresden for taking a teapot that wasn't his. Another guy really did threaten to have his personal enemies killed by hired gunman after the war. And so on. I've changed all the names." 

In looking at the way this opening reads, it is clear that fact and fiction are coming together. Most of the sentences in this section have disclaimers to the truth. "All this happened" is very declarative until it is disqualified with "more or less." This builds the uncomfortable relationship that is being established. 

He moves on to the next idea, "The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true." Alluding to the idea that "pretty much" covers enough. As we move to the next sentence, we should acknowledge the emphasis on the words. "One guy I knew really was shot in Dresden for taking a teapot that wasn't his." This is a moment where you feel like the writer wants to look you in the eyes, look, this happened. Notice there are no names here. The next sentence continues this serious tone, "Another guy really did threaten to have his personal enemies killed by a hired gunman after the war." In these phrases, the narrator wants us to realize that there is truth, even fact in these words, but they can't be verified. They can't be questioned. You will have to take his word for it that they happened.

In the last two sentences, we have "And so on" as if we would just carry on with more of his stories. And then he forfeits it all by saying, "I've changed all the names." The obscuring of the names isn't at all a surprise, the narrator has teased out the balance between truth and fiction here, but to it does remind us - I will tell the truth by obscuring facts and leaving you merely with truth. Of course, this is merely an interpretation, but it does a back and fourth of reality that is being played one aginst the other. 

This work is considered semi-autobiographical which alone strikes at the heart of the matter. Half true, half something else. Part of what we are seeing here might be an answer for the mass destruction, the death, and the insanity of war. It can't be shown to the reader without cloaking it in imagination, shifting the reality away from the reader, intentionally block the brunt of the evil so that the readers can begin somewhere. This novel was written twenty-five years out from his personal experience. Perhaps it is this distortion that helps define the balance between right and wrong.  - #


Ron Samul is a writer and educator. For more information or to contact him, go to www.RonSamul.org 

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Friday, March 11, 2016

Writing Feedback and the Art of Wonder

by Ron Samul 
The power of information, understanding, and thinking is one of the most important skills I want students to understand in academics. Sure, they will have to write papers and do some grunt work for me, but in the end, I want diverse thinking based on thoughtful research. 

When I saw this article that suggests that feedback shouldn't be a directive, but an exploration, I realized that I wasn't fostering diverse thinking if I was telling them what I wanted them to change (make the teacher happy = good grade). But I realize now that perhaps this is not helping. Bill Ferriter posted this idea by Dylan Wiliam and it struck me that perhaps I needed to change the way I spoke to them between the lines. 

"It turns out that it isn't the giving of the feedback that causes learning gains, it is the acting on feedback that determines how much students learn"(1)

If feedback is given to college writers in terms of questions, places to look, or just leads... then students are given permission to explore and find their own learning moments. In the world of creative writing, I think there is more of an exploration of ideas rather than concrete direction and focus. 

The difference is the creative element. The choices writers make with creative writing is based on experience, not form or rhetoric. That being said, feedback does come in the way of questions and connections. Drawing in connections allows the writer to go back and consider relationships, allows them to see another writer moving around the same ideas. It is theirs to comprehend. My point is, when you look to a method of investigative feedback, we should look into the creative writing models and see how feedback is delivered. The biggest insult to a creative writer would be to tell them that their creative expression is wrong. But we do it constantly in academic writing because we are looking for specific benchmarks and rubric goals. In novel writing, sometimes we don't even realize what is happening in the novel to evaluate right and wrong. Recently, I've asked students to pre-read their novel before I commit to working with them on it. Not because they are not good writers, but perhaps I am not the writer to help you with the type of book you want to write? It is a big endeavor and not one to be taken lightly. 

Academic writing could take a few lessons from understanding the value of open-ended feedback. If the grade was secondary to the goal of better writing, we could change the thinking, the writing, and the vision of the paper. Maybe the equation is "challenge teacher = good grade" or "find a sense of voice = good grade" rather than the idea doing what the student is told. 

The last few semesters, I have taken the high-stakes research project for freshman and positioned it in the middle of the semester. The reason behind it was to spend time after the initial writing to explore, deconstruct, and revalue what they added to their paper. Most of the papers that come in are cleaned up rough drafts, and I think spending some time thinking about their paper is valuable. 

The next step is to make them feel like they know something they didn't know before. I want to them to feel like they are knowledgeable about the content of their research. If they are not, then what did they gain? It isn't enough to read the research paper back to me, it must be something you understand. That is what makes good writing. A good creative writer understands what they are writing and knows the depth of their words. So should academics, and be leading them by way of discoverable feedback, the depth of their thinking increases. 


Ron Samul is a writer and educator. For more information or to contact him, go to www.RonSamul.org 

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Teachers in the Clouds

by Ron Samul 
"So what’s better? A teacher who waits in the wings till students need them, or one who “softly and silently vanishes away” when they are no longer needed? Or, rather, which is better when?" -- Sarah Honeycurch

In higher education, I've been actively trying to reposition myself self in terms of my role as the instructor in the class. I don't think lecturing and traditional content delivery are viable. When I saw this questioned posted on NoMadWarMachine website, and I connected immediately with some of the students I worked with last spring and into the fall.

It is inherent in my teaching style to foster collaboration with student writing and research. I want them to be good researchers, better writers, better thinkers -- I also think that I have to step aside and let them write and be effective in their practice. It might take some students a few tries to format, argue, and research their work, but that practice is good work for students.  Teaching overview skills to the entire class and then working with students one-to- one is important to fostering an individualized yet pedagogical approach to their writing. And there I am, "a teacher who is in the wings till students need them." While I know they are writing their research papers, I am waiting to assist, collaborate, and redirect students to resources, motivation, and other elements of the writing process. In Star Wars terms, this is Yoda in the swamp teaching his pupil the ways of the Force.
Yoda to the left. 


In recalibrating my purpose and interaction with students, it is clear that sometimes (with a few students) it is more important to disappear and be the whispering voice. In many ways we are in a contract with the student. They are taking the course and we have an obligations to instruct in the subject area. But how and why we do that is constantly transforming. More and more students come to me asking -"when am I really going to use this in my career." In some cases, they have a point - but not everything we learn we use in our jobs. That is where the transference of skills and ideas needs to be fostered. And perhaps, like Yoda, we need to show how important some of the transferability of their skills are across many jobs and skills they will be using. You will need to be proficient at formatting documents, finding effective articles and research, and they will have to communicate clearly. Students want individualized education and I want them to experience their educational path as an individual. But I also want them to be well versed in taking skills out of the classroom and turning them into assets in the real world.

The beauty of our job is that we will disappear, but the hope is to have an echo caught in the ears of the students - a voice that says you need to write, think, and express yourself. It is everywhere - and that is why you don't think you need them. 

Ron Samul is a writer and educator. For more information or to contact him, go to www.RonSamul.org 

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Quick Response Codes - Dying to Use Technology

by Ron Samul 

Quick Response Codes were developed to link products to advertising, marketing, and stock information. They were developed in Japan as a way of automating connections from a thing to information stored online. The difference between a bar code (numerical) and a Quick Response Code is the amount and type of data that it encodes. Thinking about and creating quick response codes came from elements for a class in the fall and participation in Digital Writing Month. Not only did the idea of codes as keys become engaging, it was something that I could introduce to my class and make operational quickly. See links below for older articles and connections. 

Yesterday, speaking to a Death and Dying instructor, I was shown a fascinating connection to Quick Response Codes and the dead. A Living Headstone is more than just a burial plot. The idea is simple - attach a QR code to a tombstone and when someone stops by - they scan the code and see a video, slideshow, or website commemorating your loved one. I love this idea and I love the idea of using QR codes to share the connections between the cemetery plot and the family memories. I also enjoy the way the website promotes this technology into the respectful memorial jargon. In a "timeless tradition of granite headstones with the newest technology available. We provide an interactive "living" memorial that is a legacy for future generations." This is one more example of how technology can disrupt traditional rituals of our culture. 



Not only does the code connect to information about the deceased, but it can be added to existing monuments. Imagine donating a granite bench to your university alumni and adding the QR code to your website. Achievements, class images, projects, and friends can all connect to make the memorial an important touchstone to those who care.

This post is not meant to be patronising or sarcastic. In fact, the point is to highlight another interesting use of QR Codes in the evolution of our rituals and connections to our society. If we can have "Find-a-Grave" where we have started to index tombstones and cemeteries, this would seem like a good next step for the logical integration of memories to the source of someone's final resting place.

Like the previous articles that discuss ways to use QR Codes for scavager hunts, tree identification, and even party favours -- it makes sense that this is the next generation of tangible connection between a lost loved one and a grieving family. And like new technology, will it stand the test of time? 

Not to minimize the impact of the newly deceased, this would be an interesting element to allow for historical access to cemeteries. I know we have a few old cemeteries with stones that hold significant historical context. Imagine a location for a small QR Code next to the stone that could access archives and other resources to help people understand the history, the tangible connection to the past, and the keys that can unlock real knowledge and understanding - even as they wandered through the pristine grounds of a cemetery. 

Reference Articles 
QR Codes and Your Syllabus 
QR Codes on the Ground 
Boxes and Connections 




Ron Samul is a writer and educator. For more information or to contact him, go to www.RonSamul.org 

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Unquestioning Writing - When Good Is Good Enough

by Ron Samul 

As writers, we are constantly thinking about the audience and the impact of our writing. It is a fundamental element of teaching, thinking, and writing. It made me think, when I saw this tweet by Maha Bali, when she mentioned this moment. 


This is a complex idea, and from a writing standpoint, it is also a brave idea. Writers as communicators and creative generators always seem to humble and diminish their craft. In this case, Maha is confident and sees that sometimes - no one comments because of the "powerful". I really admire the confidence and the realization that sometimes - that the power of writing can overwhelm. Why? 

Social Media 

The concept of finding something meaningful and important on social media is relevant to me. Online courses, MOOCs, connected learning, creative spaces -- all interact through social media. For me, learning, thinking, and listening to very smart and creative people comes from my interaction with social media. However, not everyone comes to social media to find that kind of connection. 

Some people are connecting with family and friends, some are just passing by while they watch their favorite TV show, some are broadcasting on Periscope as they walk to work. Why people use social media is tailored to each person. The depth of reading and interaction really comes down to the user. And it isn't happening in real time, it is happening along a timeline that could be shifting through time zones and cultures. Sometimes, the most important statements or blog posts don't get the attention I think they deserve, merely because I posted them on a Friday afternoon before a holiday (fail). 


But more importantly, people are looking for an interaction that is quick and reactive on social media. Things that make them stop, think, and experience deeper level thinking, (which relates to selective solitude, pausing, and deep reflection), may not fit into the "Like" or "+1" world of immediate reaction. This has spurred the age of important, meaningful quotes on stunning images. 


In this scan and click age, deep thinking and impactful ideas sometimes need a difference venue. It sometimes needs a blogpost, or some area where things can be expanded and slowly unpacked. And sometimes, the "Like" or the "Share" simply doesn't relate the importance of meaning at that moment. Sometimes, I see an image or a concept and I want to keep it. I want to hold on to it. But where would I keep it? Social media lets you keep it on social media terms. But when something is meaningful, we want to do more than just throw it on our timeline. Perhaps it is merely my personal need to embody ideas, art, and writing in tangible ways. Social media isn't going away and perhaps a thirty-year archive of my Facebook posts will allow me to go back and find that poem I recall so sweetly. But I want to make moments my own - outside of the screen. I want to print them out and save them. I want to fold them up and leave them in a book to discover them in a few years. 

Student Writing 

Being a writing teacher is a complex beast. Following syllabus standards, rubrics, college standards, your own vision, and the student's vision - we create a position where we are looking for the right answer to the assignment. Writing is subjective and I am looking at process, not the right order of words in a sentence. I am looking at critical thinking, how you cite sources, how you can create a document that convinces me. There is some excellent writing that comes by in terms of student writing, but I find that those elements are the product of good thinking, critical research, and planning. It comes from students who engage the learning process. And sometimes, compared to the whole class or the entire writing section, you have to acknowledge excellence as it comes to you. And sometimes, after two or three rewrites and a clear process of thinking and learning - there comes a moment when you don't need it better. They have learned - they have more than met your requirements, and they deserve to stand in that moment and feel the significance of their work. 

Creative Writing 

Creative acts are a different beast. When you apply rubrics and grading schemes to a poem or a short story, it gets awkward and complex. The "powerful" concept that Maha tweets about can be emotional, formative, and change the way we see the world. That is what art does. And sometimes, from a creative writing mentor point-of-view, you have to judge something that isn't vetted through a rubric or a course guide. It comes from emotion, it comes from form and content magically aligning to make a moment (perhaps in time if read or spoken) that matches our time and space with the ideas of someone else. 

I always question my role in interfering with the creative process. It isn't my story to tell, it is my job to make the writer think about making the story better. That is complex. And my suggestions are never - "throw this out and start over," because I would be devastated if someone told me that. But this "powerful" part of writing and speaking is fascinating to me. And there has to be a moment when we realize that expression and time meet you when you need it. There are so many poems, books, and important things written all the time. When I need them (personally), they will be there. I don't always see them now because I am looking at different things that I need now. We are all on different paths and moving in different ways. We find those moments that are "powerful" because we are looking. We need to stop counting "likes" and stats, and imagine that if one person moved forward because of the power of our words, it is always... always worth it. 


I don't think I am done defining Maha's "powerful" because I think there is a lot to the creative elements here. There is an important conversation here in defining the "powerful" in our writing, in our expression, and in our ideas. We need to value them - make an earnest and important effort to value those words and ideas that can change lives. It may not make you famous or popular, but it is a rich and deeply thoughtful life, one without regrets. 


by Ron Samul -- want to know more about me... go here. 


Ron Samul is a writer and educator. For more information or to contact him, go to www.RonSamul.org 

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Friday, December 11, 2015

QR Codes and Your Syllabus

Syllabus 
Ever feel like your syllabus becomes a major work of contractual obligation, spelling out expectations, clauses for different areas of the college, purpose, and intent? Do you feel like much of your syllabus is based on issues that have come up in the past and need amending? My syllabus feels like a complex governmental document that doesn't always outline the creativity and importance of the course - but just a lot of boilerplate things that the students don't read anyway.

There is a lot of different ways to reinvent a syllabus, but I would like to add a few QR Codes to my syllabus. By adding Quick Response Codes in my syllabus, students have some quick access to me. Here are some ideas.

  • By scanning a QR Code - students will be able to load my contact information into their phones with one quick scan, including my phone number, email, and office location. 
  • By scanning a QR Code - students will be able to find my office on Google Maps and get there without excuses. 
  • By scanning a QR Code - students can link to the course website or upload a copy of the syllabus to their phones or tablets. 
Students are coming into the classroom phones and tablets. These once basic things are now very powerful. Using CR Codes in developing a quick connect to elements in the syllabus might allow students to quickly access information that would take time to enter into their phones. 

This does not mean that we will discard traditional syllabus information and institutional goals and templates. But it does give students Quick Response Codes that will allow them to gather information quickly and have it in their devices. 

For students who are not interested in scanning codes - they still have access to the printed material and information. While it might seem like a novelty - it also can guide them to places like the course website, the login space for a LMS, or even take them to the library homepage for help with subject guides and other resources. 

Assignment Sheets
This concept applies to assignment sheets. When I present an assignment to my class, the first thing I do is pass it out on paper. If there is a QR Code on the top of the assignment sheet - students can then use their phones or devices to access the URL where they can find the electronic versions of the assignment. On that sheet, students might also find QR Codes for library resources and other elements. While I would provide links and other pathways to discovery for non-scanners, this would be an easy why for students to find this information. 

Tutoring centers could develop their own QR Code - a key to signing up for tutoring appointments or schedule. 

Asethetics
I should mention - I really admire the practicality of QR Code boxes, however, I think they look oppressive. I've seen some graphic designed boxes that look cool. I wonder where the line can be draw between funcationaly and looks when it comes to these codes. I annotated a poem using QR Codes and it looked so odd. 

In searching for cool QR Codes I found these and -- they work! Try it! 

Like all technology, we run the risk of putting too much focus on a particular element of technology. In looking at different ways to use these boxes, it has allowed me to study a peice of imprintable media that can be used in a variety of ways. It isn't all very functional. In fact, sometimes, it doesn't work at all. But it is a way for us to help students input, access, and share information on the devices in their hands right now. It has also allowed me to develop and think about how these odd electronic keys might open different opportunities for me and the students in an academic setting. 

Any feedback, ideas, or collaboration on these ideas are always welcome.



Ron Samul is a writer and educator. For more information or to contact him, go to www.RonSamul.org 

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