Creating QR code audio scavenger hunts

A few days ago, I had my new students do one of my QR code scavenger hunts on campus. I tweeted about it and there were at least a few people who were interested in what it is and how it works. That’s where this post comes in.

What is a QR code scavenger hunt?

This is where you take a longer audio file, such as a short lecture or presentation, and divide it into smaller audio files. You then upload those smaller chunks onto a cloud server and share them using QR codes. You print off those QR codes and post them in different places, give clues on how to find them, and then send off students to scan the codes. Once the students have collected all of the audio pieces, they work in pairs or groups to put them back together in the correct order. I then focus on the content by either asking comprehension questions or having them reconstruct the information in some other way.

Why would anyone do this?

There are a few reasons I have done this with my students. The main reason for dividing the audio into pieces is to focus their attention on linguistic clues such as collocations, signpost phrases, and intonation. I also want them to listen to the content clues such as contrasting ideas or supporting evidence. There are also a few reasons for doing it as a scavenger hunt. In the case with my new students, I posted the QR codes in important areas of the college I wanted them to find. I give them a map and some clues that will help them explore the campus beyond where they normally go. I have also used it to get them moving at the end of a long day, or I will create the clues to focus on the areas where the QR codes are located.

Does it work?

The short answer is yes. This is only anecdotal though, so I don’t have any evidence (yet!) to support that. Students have commented on how much they enjoy it and I have noticed that students are able to locate the linguistic clues in future lecture recordings. I’ve even noticed students using some of these same clues in their class presentations and essays.

How do you create one?

It does take a bit of work to pull it all together, but it is something that can be used again and it is actually a bit of fun as well. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Find an audio that will work for this type of task. I would suggest you find one with a transcript already done for you. Using a written transcript is really helpful in looking for content clues and collocations that might be helpful to focus on.
  2. Figure out where to divide the audio. I like to divide it into short enough pieces so students don’t get lost, but long enough that there are enough content clues. I’ve found that somewhere between 30-45 seconds works well for my intermediate to higher-intermediate students. I like to have the audio chunks in roughly the same length, give or take a few seconds. I start with the introduction section and figure out where to divide it. That sets the timing for the rest of the audio. I then listen to the audio, stopping in the set intervals to see if there are enough clues to help them, but not enough to make it too easy.
  3. I then divide the audio using Audacity. I wrote up some instructions on this in a previous post.
  4. Once I have my shorted audio files, I upload them to a cloud drive. I found that Google Drive works best for playing audio files on mobile devices. I then make those files public and get a share link for each one. I paste those links into a document so I can find them later.
  5. Once I have all of the links, I create QR codes using Qrickit. I use the Optional Text function to put in the label for that file and I download the QR code as an 850×850 PNG file.
  6. I then put all of the QR codes in a document and print them off on coloured paper. I typically print them off around 2-3 inches / 5-8 cm square. I cut them up and tape them up where I want to place them.
  7. Make note of where you put them so you can write out clues for the students. I make a list of clues in a document and then create more sets, one for each set of students I am sending out. I scramble the list for each list so students aren’t going as a clump of students through the list. I also print off a map if needed showing the different areas they will be searching for the clues. I am luck that the school has detailed campus maps I can print off.
  8. In class, I create a sample QR code for them to test out their phones. I project the code and have them all scan it. If some of the students aren’t able to scan it for whatever reason, I don’t worry since I will be placing them with a partner. I just need half of the students to get the QR code scanner to work.
  9. Once I have them ready, I give them these instructions.
    1. Go in whatever order you want. You don’t have to follow the list in the order it is written.
    2. It might be helpful to spend a few minutes with the map and the clues in the classroom to figure out a plan.
    3. Don’t listen to the audio clues while scanning. It might bother someone nearby. Just collect the clues and come back. It might be helpful to also take a photo of the code just in case you have a problem when you return to the classroom.
    4. [Sidenote: Give the class a time to return even if they aren’t done. I don’t actually stick to the time, but it makes them work faster. If someone does return before scanning all of the codes, they can ask another group for their photos to scan.]
    5. Once you are done, come back to the classroom to work with your partner on putting the audio back in order. PLEASE use headphones for this part. Write down the labels for each audio in the order you believe it goes in.
    6. Share you answer with the teacher.
  10. After it is all done, I work through the content questions and we also work on what helped them figure out the correct order. They tell me and I collect those on the whiteboard.

Do you have an example?

I’m glad you asked. Here is one I created for this post using an online audio from Macmillan.

Original Audio and Transcript (scroll down to Presentation Skills)

Divided audio

QR Codes

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