I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict what some of you may have just said to yourself. It was likely something to the effect of, “Ooooooooooh! That’s what those things are called!” Yes, those little black and white square designs are called QR codes, or ‘quick response’ codes and they seem to be popping up everywhere….on business cards, flyers, for sale signs, print ads, and even in classrooms.
What are they, you ask? QR codes are essentially barcodes that have various types of information encoded in them. They can be read by mobile phones using a QR code reader such as i-nigma or NeoReader , apps that will access your phone’s camera and use it to scan the QR code to provide you with the embedded data. Computer or tablet webcams paired with QR reader software such as QuickMark are an option for users without a smartphone.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how QR codes can be used in classrooms to make access to online resources easier for students, to improve
communication with parents, and to review or enrich concepts covered in the classroom. While there are many possibilities, most I’ve come across seem a bit gimmicky without much educational benefit. With that off my chest, here are a few reasons I could see using QR codes:
1. Simplify Whole Group Web Navigation
Teachers of young students know how difficult it can be for young students to type in a URL displayed on a screen. There are always a few students
who will misspell them and end up in the wrong place. Project a QR code at the front of the room and let students scan using whatever device they have to get
the group on the same page quickly without the need for teacher intervention. There are various bookmarklets available that could make projecting a large QR code easy to do on the fly.
2. Easy access to review/enrichment resource links
Attach a QR code on assignments or in textbooks so students (and parents!) can find more information about the topic whether it’s a link to a video on the Khan Academy website, a download URL for a helpful app, or a related web article.
3. Easy access to book reviews
There are several librarians out there who are attaching QR codes to books that link to reviews written by students so rather than judge books by their covers, they can make informed decisions based on peer recommendations.
4. Create a QR Code Treasure Hunt
Some teachers are using QR codes to simply get their students up and moving by creating treasure hunts that require students to move around the school hunting for codes which all link to various questions they have to answer.
Interested in making your own QR codes? There are a numbers of sites out there that will generate QR codes with a variety of data types. I like QRstuff.com but a quick google search will provide you with many other options.
Anybody using them in a way that truly transforms learning? If so, I’d love to hear about it.