QR permanence

No, I’m not weighing in on the “QR longevity” debate… this is about putting your money where your mouth is!

The final two permanent codes of the Balmullo History Safari were fixed in place last night and here’s a couple of pics of the Old School House – now privately owned, so thank you to the owners!

UPDATE: This is the Cynicus QR Code – Balmullo was home to a famous cartoonist called ‘Cynicus’ – this code tells you more about him and shows you some of his work…

A couple of the images attached are from my Instagram feed. Instagram is now available for iOS and Android so feel free to follow – @OnTheSuperFly

I must also add a big thank you to the Community Council who have allowed me to place the QR codes on their planters around the village.

Happy hunting y’all!




Branding Safari

Apparently, if you want to design an icon or logo you could do worse than get help from primary aged kids. Children as young as 18months old have been known to recognise the golden arches of the worlds favourite fast food outlet! It makes sense that children would be image literate long before they are word literate so no wonder advertisers make every effort to capture that particular audience with strong visuals. Therefore, by the time kids start school they are already pretty savvy regarding logos.

So, in almost no time at all having suggested we find iconic symbols from the village, main suggestions from the children were the Smithy and the burn and the Smithy very quickly became a horse shoe. I took the decision to position it like a bridge rather than the traditional ‘lucky’ horse shoe – it just made more sense with the water running underneath.

I was personally intrigued by the shape of the school as we see it in the satellite images of Google Maps. It even appeared that the four points were exactly North, South, East and West and so it made sense that our ‘Safari’ logo, in some respects, resembled a compass.

So, here it is, as featured across all of our permanent QR Codes around Balmullo and my first logo collaboration with 25 seven year olds! I may have to call them in again!

Red Tape

For the first time since I took on this project I was met by red tape… of the best kind, a big red ribbon around the information box in front of the school signifying the impending ceremony to officially open Room Two’s QR Code Safari!

It’s almost a week ago now but the Safari, to hunt and observe Balmullo History QR Codes, is now fully operational!

VIPs from Fife Education, parents of Room Two and the entire school gathered in the main hall at 2pm last Wednesday to listen to the children present their project (with their own Powerpoint presentation) and have it officially opened.

Kenneth Greer, Executive Director of Education for Fife was unable to join us due to prior engagements but was well aware of the project and sent the children of Room Two a letter letting informing them of how proud he was of their achievement.

Everyone had to endure a brief lesson in QR Codes from me but I came away more educated than anyone as a quick straw poll revealed more P6/7s had smart phones than adults in the room!

So, Balmullo may well be the most QR literate village in Fife, but we won’t be resting on our laurels. The Safari’s system is fully content managed so the Safari’s content of videos, images and words will be changing from time to time as new classes take over the project.

While installing the permanent codes I found this poor specimen in the road. It’s one of the temporary QR Codes that had blown off the planter at the bottom of Main Street. There are still a few temporary codes waiting to be upgraded while we arrange for suitable fixing places for the new permanent ones but they’ll all be in place before long.

Here’s a permanent fixture at the Balmullo Inn.

So you’ll now find the Safari starter codes on the information box outside the school, but essentially once you log in you can start the Safari from any of the codes as they all carry information to the map and additional information on this site.

Back to the launch… after the ceremony we were treated to cake, but no ordinary cake, a cake with the project logo printed on the top! (More about the logo soon!)

I was extremely fortunate to have this opportunity and to complete what I’d had in my head for more than a year. I’ve now demonstrated a generic series of projects (or products) that modularly come together to create a learning experience for any age. While in the context of technology there are many ‘seemingly peripheral’ subjects that can be covered as part of the project. These were sited by the teacher supervising the project on behalf of the school: literacy, presentations (Powerpoint), local history, community engagement, graphic design, research, development and documentation… in total I was given a list of 40 outcomes front the Curriculum for Excellence that we had covered.

Any class in the school from P1 through to P7 could have taken a section of this project and developed it within the confines of their ability and experience and taken from it new experiences, skills and understanding relevant to their age and needs.

I only hope I get to expand it through ‘funded’ projects in the future.

I am working on it… lets just hope that I’m met with ‘more’ of the best kind of red tape!


It’s a word that can carry such damning connotations…

“Don’t use that on there it’s permanent!”, or “What have you done to you hair? Don’t tell me it’s perma… ”

Just me then..?

Well, today, permanent is my friend. Today I have a pile of QR Codes that will form a trail (what we like to call a Safari) around our village designed with the help of 25 munchkins from the local primary school. (see the link below)

Of course, permanent is only a screwdriver or a delinquent-teenager’s-cigarette-lighter away from temporary, but hey-ho, here we go!

Here for the first time is a peek at the logo that I designed, again under direction of the children, and it incorporates Balmullo icons such as a horse shoe (the Smithy), a burn (Burnside) and even the school (as you might see it on a map, from above). More about that another time…

For now, please stay tuned… the official opening of the Balmullo History QR Code Safari is coming soon!

Let’s Go To Work..!

Friday the 30th March was our QR Safari installation date. And what a day it was. One of the warmest days of the year so far and barely a cloud in the deep blue sky.

However, once you get a class of seven year olds anywhere near a main road the weather goes somewhat unnoticed… but don’t get me wrong, it was a lot of fun!

We had been given ‘copies’ of 100 year old photographs of Balmullo by a parent who works in the local library. Part of the process for the children was comparing 100 year old Balmullo with present day Balmullo.

Some areas of the main street are surprisingly similar with the same buildings visible and retaining their original purpose, but others, like the old Balmullo shop, now have a different purpose (here’s an example of one of our videos).

As the ‘guides’ on this Safari, the children’s learning experiences have shaped our trail and what our visitors see. They designed it!
Their Safari provides an opportunity for their audience, ‘the explorers’, to make the same insights and have a similar learning experience, but they can do it whenever they like.

We managed to install 5 of the 12 QR codes. The QR Codes are quite spread out across the village (‘Safari’ means ‘journey’ in Swahili after all!) and, besides, it was nearly lunchtime.

So Balmullo now has a legitimate semi-permanent QR Code Safari – this was our ‘prototype’. The QR Safari will become completely permanent once we secure permissions and funding for completely weather proof QR Codes. Feel free to visit and find our Safari. The notice board outside of the school will feature a code pointing ‘explorers’ in the direction of our Google Safari Map and, from there, how they explore the environment is up to them…

If you become a Balmullo QR Code Explorer please let us know how you got on and maybe let us know what you would like to see in the future… any comments can be added to the site here or directed to the school.

So there is still a little content to be included, but by the end of the Easter holidays our Safari will be fully operational and we’ll maybe have a little launch party – if you’re local look out for more information in the village newsletter.

Have a great Easter Break and enjoy some more pictures of our QR Safari ‘Guides’ setting it up..!

Coming Soon! News on our QR Trail Logo, our Mystery Box scanning session, our Writing Round-a-bout on what we learned and news on the Balmullo QR Safari Official Launch!

QR Trail Photos

This is the first installed QR Code…

No prizes for guessing where this is…

Perfect day for a Safari…

Look out for more of these around the village…

Making Mystery Boxes

I’m helping Primary Twos in my village with a ‘QR Safari’ and the project I’m about to show you is designed to help them form a concept of what the QR Code does.

But what is a QR Safari..? QR Safaris are all about experiencing digital content ‘in the environment’ that inspired its creation. The children have been collecting interesting historical facts about old Balmullo and while one option may have been to gather the information into a book or a poster, the Safari allows the audience to experience the content ‘on the spot’ where it can have more resonance. QR codes are perfect for Safaris because a QR Code is a call to action – “scan me now!”

There is also the mystery element. Who knows what’s contained within the QR Code! It’s important to give your audience want a good experience. If they scan a code simply to find a Facebook page that they could have looked at at home then they won’t be motivated into scanning your other codes. However, if the content is relevant to the environment, a picture of how the street looked 100 years ago for example, then they’ll come back eager to explore the rest of the Safari!

QReativity (Kree-ay-tivity) is what it’s all about…

For the children I characterised QR Codes as containers. The metaphor of a mystery box definitely struck a chord. They were very open to the concept of ‘mystery’ and got very excited about my own Mystery Box that contained very secret QR Codes (see previous post). They eagerly supplied us with a picture of an item personal to them (see the lego plane below) to be tagged to their box. Remember, we are not interested in putting physical objects in the physical box, we are putting digital objects inside the digital box, the QR Code. The children decorated their boxes with clues as to what we might find behind the QR Code… the scanning process then takes the form of a game.

I supplied the children with a box template, complete with Mystery Box logos and a unique QR Code, reproduced on two sides of the box just in case some over eager colouring rendered one useless.

The personal Mystery Box was useful to introduce them to QR Codes but also as a memento of the project. The ‘QR Safari’ is a virtual product and difficult for them to explain to their parents – I felt it was important that I provide them with something they could take home and maybe even demonstrate.

And so we have here a selection of completed boxes and an example of their contents. I’m not sure how long the box will last once it gets home but hopefully next time they see a QR code in the street, or in a magazine, they’ll be asking mom or dad to ‘act’… I can’t wait till we can be scanning our own codes!

Safari… so goody..!

Safari: An expedition to observe or hunt…
SuperFly Safari‘ was the name given to my QR Code trails. Obviously we are hunting out QR Codes, but when the content is so integral to the environment being explored then ‘observation’ is an important element of the game too.

The reason for writing is that for my latest ‘Safari’ I’ve been working with a local primary school for the last month with the aim of creating a QR trail around our village that will focus on the historical aspects of life in the village and create a point of engagement between the school and the community.

The great thing about these projects from a teaching perspective (and I’m not a trained primary teacher) is that there are so many peripheral learning opportunities around the subject, that the ‘tech’ becomes almost incidental… at least that’s the way I feel it should be… if the tech is working then it should be barely noticeable!

So, before I even started on ‘what QR Codes were’ the pupils (all Primary 2, aged 6-7) had been for a couple of walks around the village finding points of interest and had a visit by a local resident who had lots of stories and information about ‘how we used to live’ in the village.

So, my role was to help them set up the QR Safari.

I started with “What are QR Codes?” While I was nervous at the prospect of answering that question for 7 year olds it was surprisingly easy. For the past 18 months I’ve been using the metaphor of the ‘Mystery Box’. The reception to this could be luke warm with the academics, but for the children it really seemed to strike a chord.

I had a wooden 100mm square Mystery Box which contained QR Codes that I would eventually reveal, but at one point during the first class I absent-mindedly removed the lid… there was an audible gasp from the room and I looked up to twenty-five pairs of eyes, did with anticipation..! ‘X’ hits the spot!

I had found my audience!

So, in the next few posts I’ll share with you how we made mini QR Code Mystery Boxes, mapped out our route, came up with ideas for a logo, looked at old photos and discussed how the village had changed and documented the content for the trail. All being well, (with thanks the St Andrews University who are lending us 3G Tablets) the trail should be completed and available to all by the end of the month… so keep it here… ‘X’ marks the spot, you might say…

Next time ‘making Mystery Boxes!’