Thursday, 28 April 2011

QR Code Tour Generator - user feedback

As you maybe aware, we've been developing a QR Code Tour Generator at UCS. This is intended to act as an easy authoring tool to enable people to create and manage a number of linked QR Code points of interest. As part of the process we invited feedback from a few people at other institutions (many thanks to Phil Richards and David Hopkins).

Overall the feedback was very positive, the general areas for improvement are around the managing of the URLs (making sure the links work, and they are easy to identify once they are created), and the PDF (A5 print outs) have some layout issues which need addressing.

The following quotes indicate we are nearly there in terms of the interface and functionality. Therefore, we are nearly in a position be able to roll this out as an open source package.

How could we improve the user interface? What more do you need?

The interface is simple and uncomplicated - I would not want too add too much more info as the current state would be good for non-technical users to find "safe" and not to scary.

How could we improve the functionality? what other things would you find really useful?

Nothing occurs immediately. Perhaps being able to check the shortened URLs work within the tour form.

An interesting point was as made around the most difficult aspect was to the tour design. For instance, "generating the tour was easy and pretty self-explanatory. What was more difficult was, before starting the process, knowing what information I would be able to include and therefore how much planning would be needed. This is not about the creation tool itself and more about my own expectations and information/guide perhaps." I've interpreted this as the need to provide some concrete examples within an effective getting started guide.

The next steps are to work with a number of teams at UCS to produce some tours, and track use.


Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Exhibitors extending their own space using QR Codes

I was really surprised, and rather pleased to see the latest exhibition in the Waterfront Building. As is evident the promotional material uses QR Codes. The artists have used QR Codes in a number of ways. Firstly, there are the general promotional posters, and Exhibition Catalogue which includes one text based QR Code which contains a list of web links more information about each artist. The second, use is within the exhibition, which is a poster of four QR Codes, one named for each artist, which is URL QR Codes to their web sites, facebooks spaces etc.,

Interestingly, there were no QR Codes around individual pieces of work. For instance, the use of a URL QR Code to encourage people to leave comments, and to read other people's comments.

It would be very interesting to find out more from the artists in terms of what they wanted to gain from the use of QR Codes within their promotional material, and if they've received feedback from people around the effectiveness.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Giving the building a voice: developments with James Hehir

As part of the QR Code Tour Service we are working with Estates on a pilot project about giving our buildings a voice. Many of the UCS buildings include a open area which the general public can access, and then have card access controls for staff and students. This does often raise questions from people walking around the UCS Ipswich, such as, what is the building? what goes on in the building? As Gwenda commented, from the perspective of many people these are mystery buildings.

A very good example is the James Hehir building (

The intention is to use our QR Code Generator Service to create a set of QR codes which give an overview (short 2 minute talk, with or without images) to answer the question >> what is the history of the building and what is the current use? It will include the exit point of go to the UCS web site for more info

We'll then create a set of audio recordings based around conversations with the teams on each floor - this will give a much richer learning experience around what is happening in the building.

We are hoping to have the overview available by mid May, 2011. The Elevate Team will record the short round table discussion with Sonia and Gwenda, and help them create the QR Code Tour.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Emerging ideas from the History Division #QRCodes

Following on from the "QRTour Generator Sprint" and a small round of user testing, the Elevate Team are continuing the dialogue between the Division of History at UCS and the Ipswich Maritime Trust.

We are looking to support and enhance the work of the two with the use of our new QR Code based Tour Generator, following a very productive meeting on 7th April the History lecturers are going to be building up scenarios around the Historic Ipswich Wet Dock, with the supporting materials/resources coming from the Ipswich Maritime Trust's archive.

During the 7th April meeting we were treated to a very informative presentation by Stuart Grimwade from the Trust.  The Trust have a wonderful photographic archive, with photos going back to the 1850's, showing the Ipswich Wet Dock through different stages of its life.

Below are a couple of these wonderful images:

[caption id="attachment_637" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Neptune Quay c1860 - Ipswich Maritime Trust"]Ipswich Maritime Trust[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_636" align="alignleft" width="277" caption="Shipyard c1857 - Ipswich Maritime Trust"]Ipswich Maritime Trust[/caption]













We are planning to look through a number of these photographs to pick out a few locations to create a tour, with these locations being points of interest for use on our tour generator.  We will be working with staff from the History Division to select the most appropriate locations for this proof of concept.  We will be working with these lecturers to write scenarios, to give a story to the points of interest.  Wrapping around this will be the use of these photographs, as we will be using QR Codes to link to these scenarios, we will know the users location, as they will need to scan the codes, we can really start to tailor these scenarios, giving people a look at the past of the location they are standing in.  As well as the use of these fantastic pictures, we will also be adding a voice over, telling the story to give these pictures a voice.

Some of UCS's history students are working on a project where they have been taking audio recordings of the last surviving barge captains, we will be looking at hopefully using these stories/recordings in one of our points of interest along the tour.

We will be looking to host the materials/resources for each point of interest on a blog style system, allowing users that take the tour to leave their own comments and thoughts immediately, from the location they are in, therefore allowing the next person to look at the materials to also see previous peoples thoughts.

We are very excited about this project, both for how it will technically work as well as something usable for the Ipswich Maritime Trust and to see how the tour can be written to support the learning outcomes of our history modules.

Extending the Exhibition Space #QRCodes

Following on from the "Extending the Exhibition beyond the Physical Space" post, to show that the very short notice (2 days), proof of concept project actually worked we have had a look at the statistics from the event.

We created a number of QR Codes for the event, these were all placed in the printed catalogue due to the short nature of the Elevate Team's involvement.  The codes that were used for the event were:

  1. All of the artist's contact details

  2. The online catalogue

  3. The 2011 Gallery events listing

  4. The UCS School of Arts & Humanities website

  5. The Ipswich and Colchester Museums

Total number of scans for each QR Code was as follows:

  1. 8

  2. 1

  3. 14

  4. 3

  5. 7

As you can see we had 33 scans of the QR Codes, removing the scans that were done prior to the event for testing, gives us 24 scans.  Below you will see the statistics for the 2011 Gallery listings code, (clicking the image will make the picture larger) this shows when the scans of the code were made, as you can see, this QR Code is still being scanned until very recently.

QR Code Statistics

Even though these numbers appear small, we are very pleased and happy for a number of reasons:

  • Our involvement was for a very short period of time

  • The numbers of people at the event were small

  • We have been able to view/track numbers of scans for each QR Code generated

  • Our proof of concept project worked

After this success the Elevate Team are looking to move this proof of concept forward, with the use of its newly designed QRTour Generator.  We are also working with our Estates department, they are looking to "give the building a voice".  The landmark Waterfront building at UCS has a number of areas that Estates would like to allow students/members of the public to be more aware of, we will be looking at locating a number of QR Codes around the building, allowing users to scan the codes and listen to more information.

Friday, 8 April 2011

New Featured Video: Debut Video Capture

We've a new featured video for April 2011. It is a talk through of the Debut Video Capture Software which is available on all networked PCs.

The video discusses how to set and record (capture) the screen. This supports an increase in interest in screen casting across the institution. We've a number of resources available from our Screencasting FAQs (

A slightly different take (compared to recording a powerpoint) of using the software is using it to capture visuals and audio from a visualiser (


If you'd like to find out more about screen casting at UCS, please email the Elevate Team (




Thursday, 7 April 2011

Testing desktop conferencing with the big blue button

A very common request from staff has been for desktop conferencing to run webinars, 1-2-1 support, e-workshops etc., Infact, a session was run successfully with a presenter in the USA and the rest of the group in Ipswich last week (more to follow from Aaron).

The Elevate Team have been investigating various software to meet this need given our resources. We've been exploring the wonders of the "Big Blue Button" (, an open source desktop conferencing solution. As part of this evaluation, we are going to run a webinar (desktop conference) on Thursday 14th April, 11.30 to 11.45. I've not decided on the topic, but the user requirements are as follows;

  • deliver to a teaching room in Waterfront building (project, audio, and allow them to ask questions)

  • deliver to a number of desktops machines in UCS Ipswich

  • deliver a presentation (powerpoint), with a quick demo (walk through of a web site - share desktop), and run a question and answer session.

The aim is to see if it works, and how straight forward it is for the presenter and the audience. If you'd like to take part, please email us, with the subject ... e-conferencing

You will need a set of headphones, and you'll need to be on the UCS Ipswich campus (as the software is installed on our development server and we've limited this to certain networks).


Monday, 4 April 2011

out and about: Andy at Media Enhanced Learning SIG

I've just got back from a one day event at Liverpool John Moore's University organised by the HEA Media Enhanced Learning SIG. I've made a few notes on my personal work blog ( A few points I took from the day include;

  • some very good examples around getting staff to create their own video material

  • copyright and ethics issues around the capturing material

I'd suggest anyone at UCS interested in developing media enhanced learning activities should engage with is the JISC Digital Media Service, who provide a considerable amount of material around guidelines, help etc., For instance, I'm just about to run a number of sessions using Camtasia for people interested in screen capture (talk through powerpoints etc.,). So I'll need to include,

Some software which caught my eye - in terms of easily allowing an individual to add audio over images, create a small-ish file and easily facilitate the file uploaded to youTube, blogs etc, is Microsoft's Photo Story Software (