Transliteracy- QR Codes and Art

Transliteracy is defined on Wikipedia as

The ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks. The modern meaning of the term combines literacy with the prefix trans-, which means “across; through”, so a transliterate person is one who is literate across multiple media.

Ryan Nadel, in an interview on Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning, defines transliteracy even further:

“The most fundamental notion of transliteracy is the ability to adapt. It’s creating a literacy and fluidity between mediums that’s not tied to space or modality.”

I agree with Ryan: Transliteracy is closely related to “fluency“:

  • the ability to know when to use one media over another
  • the ability to move effortlessly between media
  • the ability to comprehend, build upon, and remix different kind of media
  • the ability to relate, communicate and connect via multiple forms of media
  • moving between media feels: intuitive, unconscious and smooth

Let me share a transliterate learning opportunity with you that I created (Art, iPads, QR codes, Language Arts and Digital Storytelling)  in collaboration with our Art teacher, Mrs. Gutterman and the 4th grade classroom teacher, Mrs. Teitelbaum?

During Art class, fourth graders adapted Vincent van Gogh’s chairs and placed things on and  around them that were important to them.

In Language Arts, students wrote a script, explaining their choices of what they drew and why it was important to them.

We all gathered in the library to record their script as an audio file on the iPad. We used the AudioMemos app (free) to record. Students then emailed the wav file to me.

  1. I then converted the .wav files to mp3 files with Garageband, since I did not know if all mobile devices would play .wav files easily.
  2. These files were then uploaded via FTP to our school’s server
  3. I inserted the URL of each mp3 file into
  4. Clicked on “Details” to get to the generated QR code
  5. Saved the QR codes as an image file


I inserted the images into a page and then printed the QR codes out for the Art teacher to attach them to the original art work.

Now anyone with a QR scanner on their Smartphone, iTouch or iPad walking by the art work, can scan and listen to the student artist’s audio reflection. The next step was to create a poster to catch the attention of the visitors and parents walking by and give a short explanation of what to do with the QR code