The recent introduction of QR codes into high school textbooks has combined technology with the needs of both educators and learners to provide an innovative learning solution.

The QR codes – known as “Bubbles” – link to short, interactive modules that help learners gain a deeper understanding of the material through audio-visual snippets. The initiative was developed by Media Works, South Africa’s leading provider of adult education and training, and Excom, which has been publishing IEB and CAPS-aligned textbooks for 10 years. Bubbles are currently available in textbooks ranging from Business Studies to Economic and Management Sciences (EMS), Life Orientation and junior Accounting.

“The feedback we have received since this project was launched has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Yvette Russell, Managing Director of Excom Publishers. “Educators and learners find it easy to use and, for many learners, having concepts explained in a different way improves their comprehension.”

Catering for every learner

“Children learn in different ways,” says Russell. “Auditory learners by sound, visual learners by sight, and kinesthetic learners through physical activities and engagement. Bubbles cater for each of these learning styles, and have been shown to help learners understand and retain information with ease.”

Bubbles are typically 60 to 90 seconds in length – “which helps learners with short attention spans,” adds Russell – and do not duplicate information provided in the textbook. Instead, they reiterate important concepts and provide new and accessible examples and applications. Each Bubble also offers short self-evaluation questions for learners to complete.

In the hard copies of textbooks, learners can scan the codes using a free QR reader or the camera on a smart phone, or they can simply click on the active links in the e-book versions. The past year has seen newly designed and updated English textbooks and, for 2019, Afrikaans versions of these books will be available, with new CAPS-compliant editions being added to the range over time.

Expanding into the homeschooling market

The value of Bubbles in the homeschooling market has seen substantial growth during 2018. “Homeschoolers often study on their own, or with a parent, tutor or facilitator who is either not a qualified educator or not specialist in the subject,” explains Dennis Lamberti, Media Works’ Development Director. “Having Bubbles on hand is like having an educator available to guide them through the main concepts.”

In 2019, Excom will be piloting extended educator guides for the Grade 9 CAPS-compliant EMS and Grade 10 Life Orientation textbooks to test the market.

Educators interested in prescribing the books for learners, as well as learners or parents who would like to access the books, can order them directly from orders@excompublishers.co.za or obtain them from several bookstores. The e-book version can be purchased and downloaded via ITSI or Snapplify. Alternatively, educators, parents and children can also click here to download the booking form.