12 educational uses for QR codes
QR codes look like jumbled checkerboards. You’ve seen them on posters, billboards, magazine ads, clothing, food packaging – maybe even on a city bus!. Launch an app on your phone and point it at the code to access a website or receive other information.
QR codes got loads of attention in the USA a few years ago as smartphones with cameras reached a critical mass. Now that the hype has died down some pundits allege that they’re passé, but I think not. QR codes have lots of applications and the technology is not hard to use.
With a 29 x 29 grid (like the one above right) a QR code can store 77 alphanumeric characters; a 40 x 40 grid can handle 4,296! Non-geeks can create them in a flash using a free website like Kaywa or goQR.me. Type in some information and the site generates a downloadable image. The video below it gives an idea of how this all works (warning: it’s a little over the top).
QR code readers are also free; I like the cross-platform mobile apps RedLaser and Scan. Are they easy to use? Just open one and point your camera at a code. The app grabs the data quickly (the Q in QR) and asks your permission to do what the code indicates. That usually means viewing a website, but it could also open a Google Form, play a video or sound, show an image, download a mobile app, and so on. Besides URLs, a QR code can represent an email address, a calendar event, contact info, a map location, a phone number, or a block of plain old text. Scroll through the gallery below and try some for yourself!
12 ways teachers and learners can use QR codes
After you create a QR code, you can embed the image file in a document, upload it to a vendor website, or print it on a self-stick label. The code can then be used on a poster, bulletin board, flyer, postcard, business card, resume, button, mug, key chain, t-shirt … the list goes on and on.
- At the top of your syllabus, a printed code links to the course website.
- After a presentation, an on-screen code links to a bibliography.
- To reduce paper consumption, a code links to an online handout.
- Students laminate paper codes providing background info on art works in a gallery.
- A web page is only accessible via code and student access is tracked for extra credit.
- Codes attached to real-world objects form a location-based game.
- Early in the semester, a code launches a poll where students provide feedback.
- On a poster advertising a new course, a code links to more information.
- Ahead of an exam, a code lets students add your office hours to their calendar.
- At a conference, a button pinned to your collar contains contact info as a code.
- In a lab class, codes call up today’s instructions.
- When submitting a media project, students include a code that links to their work.
- What’s Up with QR Codes: Best Tools & Some Clever Ideas – Learning in Hand
- 7 things you should know about QR Codes – ELI
- QR Codes in Instruction – Western KY
- QR code teaching tips (PDF) – U of Florida
- Educational uses of QR codes – Duke