This month's Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators is all about creatively using QR codes to help the families you teach feel prepared and informed for labor, birth and parenting. Today's families are tech savvy, and are familiar with this technology and will enjoy applying it to their childbirth education. If you want to check out previous Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators for fresh teaching ideas, click here to see them all, or download a QR Reader and scan this custom QR code below to pull them up as well.
How to Make a QR Code
Making a custom QR code is easy and free. This article "7 Best Free Online QR Generator 2016" evaluates and discusses the top seven resources for creating your own custom QR codes. One of my favorites is http://goqr.me/ Many of these sites provide the option to create your QR code in a custom selected shape or design, or in the shape of your own personal logo for added variety Once the image is saved to your computer or device, you can print them, embed them in a presentation or document, or place on a website. While each QR generator is a little different, the principle is the same - you enter a website address (URL), hosted document, image, or other directions of your choice and the generator creates the code that you can use as you see fit. QR codes that I use over and over in class, I print them out on colorful paper and laminate them so they stand up over time. Don't forget to save them with a useful filename and indicate on the back what the QR code leads to so you don't drive yourself crazy.
Let class members know in advance to download a free QR Reader from the App Store - iTunes if they use iPhones or from the Google Play Store if they have an Android device. Having the families arrive ready to "scan" saves class time and allows you to jump right into the activity. Many people will already have the app installed on their smartphone from previous usage.
1. Activity - Car Talk
In my classroom I have a laminated poster hung by the door labeled "Car Talk" with a fun, whimsical cartoon car on it. Each week, as families leave my classroom, I ask them to grab a preprinted QR code on the way out that is taped up on the poster. There is one for each family already hung up. I ask them to scan the code in the car. Scanning takes them to a hidden page on my website where I have posted a question/topic for discussion that supports our learning this week. I ask them to discuss this talking point with each other as they make their way home and explore how they feel about the issue. On the website page, I have also listed some links to websites that contain more information or additional supplemental material where they can explore the topic more. Alternately, you can just have the code up, and they can scan the question as they leave the classroom, saving you the trouble of printing and hanging the codes for all the families. For example, after we have discussed relaxation and practiced a guided relaxation and visualization in class, scanning the code brings them to the question - "Where do you hold tension and stress in your body? How can your support team help you to release that tension and relax during contractions? What can they say? How can they touch you?" I may also include some links to my favorite relaxing music, guided scripts and a collection of birth affirmations. I ask them to discuss with each other while they make their way home, and to explore the additional links if they want further information. Each week, there is a new QR code and a new "Car Talk" discussion point with new resources supporting our most recent class topics.
2. Activity - Scavenger Hunt
One of the many learning objectives during my Lamaze classes is to help families become familiar with evidence based, consumer friendly websites that provide additional information on the topics of pregnancy, labor, birth, breastfeeding and early parenting. I want them to have resources for after class is over and begin to explore websites that are respected and provide best practice information. To achieve this goal, divide the class into small groups of 2-3 families. Each group gets a packet of QR codes. You can have them laminated and clipped together, or you can provide a handout with them all printed there. Each QR code takes them to one of my favorite websites; Lamaze for Parents, Evidence Based Birth, Spinning Babies, KellyMom.com etc. With each QR code is an accompanying question. Scanning the code takes them to the website, where they can find the answer. Searching for the answer helps them to become familiar with the information on the website, learn an interesting factoid or two and creates community as they work in teams to be the first to complete the "scavenger hunt." For example - I might send them to the Lamaze for Parents page about IV Fluids and ask them what the World Health Organization recommendation is for receiving IV fluids in labor. Then I might send them to KellyMom.com - Mastitis and ask them what might be the symptoms of mastitis. The competition heats up as the families jump all over the internet exploring great resources for the future and try to be the first to finish and win a small prize.
3. Activity - Parents as Teachers
I know that learning is more fun when the parents can help share information with the rest of the class. When we are talking about interventions such as AROM, Pitocin, Continuous Electronic Fetal Monitoring, Episiotomy and others, I like to ask each family or team of families to teach what they learn to the rest of the class. Each group gets a topic and and several QR codes. I ask them to gather information about the benefits of that intervention, the risks of that intervention and what some alternatives might be. They are to gather information and present it back to the rest of the class. I give them some time to work and come up with the information, using the QR code linked sites and then share what they have learned. If they leave information out, or misrepresent something, I help to clarify or gently correct so everyone has the correct information. This activity is effective because once again, they are being directed to evidence based resources they can refer to later, and they are responsible for sharing what they have learned. I am confident that families enjoy taking turns doing the "teaching" and sharing their knowledge. You, of course, could do this with any topic of your choosing, for example - pain medications, or breastfeeding positions, etc, etc.
QR codes are a simple, cheap fun and easy piece of technology that can spice up your childbirth classes, increase learning opportunities and appeal to the millennial learner. They are easy to make, easy to use and allow for you to create activities that reinforce and support what families are learning during their childbirth preparation. Do you think you might be open to trying any of the activities listed above? Are you already using QR codes in your classes? Share your ideas with the rest of us or let us know how you might modify the above activities for engaging and active learning.