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Friday, April 02, 2010



This is one of those "let's have a go at this..." moments.
It's a 'development' of some of the excellent QR code work that Noel Jenkins has done. I read this week that some graffiti artists are now using QR codes to 'tag' their work...

The idea of tagging is spreading (apparently there is no # tag on an Apple keyboard, although hashtags are now becoming very common...)

It's obviously important to tag resources so that people can find them, photos are tagged on Flickr so they can be searched, and an extension of that is geotagging, which is now built in to some digital cameras, and is added to photos taken with my iPhone for example.

So TOUCHATAG was introduced to me by John Davitt via some tweets and details from a conference that I followed remotely. John is also planning an event called Learning on the Beach #lob10 in Ireland which I would have attended as 'this year's Islay 2020' style CPD, but instead I will be at Glastonbury with the Geography Collective.

Touchatag uses RFID tags: these are Radio Frequency Identification tags (more later)

I bought a tag reader, and a starter pack of 10 tags from the Touchatag shop.

The phrase that drew me in was the chance to create an "internet of things"....

The tags can be linked to actions or resources, and it's this aspect that I will be exploring further...

Image Alan Parkinson

The reader and software are now installed, so the next thing is to come up with some activities.

A TOUR is available to introduce the idea of what can be done.

For example, a cube with a series of tags could be created and by placing the appropriate side of the cube on the reader, an action is triggered, which could be related to e-mails, music, videos, Twitter or some other application - the tag could be hidden inside an object or stuck to it e.g. the bottom of a coffee mug, or a DVD case. The objects could be related to the lesson activity that is planned, or provide instructions or guidance for students, or perhaps bring up clues as to the nature of the activity that has been planned... This is the next stage...

Just considering what stories I can attach to objects, and how I can use that for geographical learning....
From what you've read on this post - does anyone have any thoughts on how it could be used ?
Would be interested in developing some collaborative resources on the use of these tags, and will share some of the outcomes later in the year at a few planned sessions....

Also been looking at the existing uses of RFID tags, and there are quite a few 'geographical' contexts that could be used with students to introduce the idea of what they are, and let the students create the ideas in the classroom...
  • Tags in the ears of farm animals, such as cows, so productivity can be mapped as the animal comes in for milking, and each animal can be identified... - could be mentioned when looking at agriculture or food production - also useful for tracking spread of infections
  • Tags inside library books, so they can be scanned rather than physically stamping library cards and books etc. These systems may well be in lots of school resource centres / libraries
  • They can be placed in vehicles so that they can be tracked for congestion charging purposes or road tolls
  • My Barclaycard is able to use contactless technology to pay for things, not that I've ever had the opportunity yet...
  • My Oyster Card does something similar, and these are used by thousands of London travellers every hour...
  • Some schools are tagging pupils: RFID can be placed in uniforms or school bags and used to track attendance, or students leaving the school site during the school day
A useful document hosted on SCRIBD gives a summary of the technology:

RFID Technology

Not everyone is happy about their use. There are campaigns against their use to track activities and movements of people.

A lengthy post, but an idea I shall return to...

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